Frank Jacobs (born May 30, 1929) is an American author of satires, known primarily for his work in Mad, to which he has contributed since 1957. Jacobs has written a wide variety of lampoons and spoof, but he is best known as a versifier who contributes parodies of famous song lyrics and poems. In 2009, Jacobs told a Burbank newspaper, "I’m the least-known writer of hysterical light verse in the United States."
Jacobs appeared in the sixth chapter of PBS' comedy documentary, Make 'em Laugh: The Funny Business of America singing "Blue Cross," his own 1961 parody of Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies". That lyric was one of 25 which comprised Irving Berlin et al. v. E.C. Publications, Inc., a precedent-setting case that was appealed to the Supreme Court and helped to define the boundaries of parody in American law.
In September 1964, Jacobs married Barbara Stellman whom he met in Greenwich Village. They had one child, Alexander George Jacobs, born 1970 in New York City. Jacobs and Stellman were divorced in 1975, but still remain close friends today. Stellman lives in Seattle, WA while their son Alex now resides in Delray Beach, FL with his wife, Tara. Jacobs resides in Burbank, CA where he continues his writings and ramblings.
Jacobs' first submission to the magazine, "Why I Left the Army and Became a Civilian," resulted in an immediate sale and a request for more material. It was one of five Jacobs pieces to appear in issue #33 (June 1957), marking a prodigious debut for the Mad contributor. His byline has since appeared in more than 300 issues of the magazine, second only to Dick DeBartolo among Mad writers who do not also illustrate their own work. Jacobs has over 575 credits for the magazine, more than any other writer or artist. At his peak, Jacobs was writing a fifth of the magazine's content. "My top year, I sold 60 pages... so you get an idea of the roll I was on," Jacobs told an interviewer. 165 separate issues of Mad include multiple articles written by Jacobs.
Jacobs established numerous recurring features in Mad, including fabricated obituaries for fictional characters from various genres and the "Do-It-Yourself Newspaper Stories" which offer a series of fill-in-the-blank options.
Books and writings
One of Jacobs' non-Mad-related projects was the 1965 Alvin Steadfast on Vernacular Island, a gentle spoof of post-Victorian boys' books. The titular hero is a ten-year-old boy, who joins an adult explorer on Vernacular Island, a place populated by bizarre and wonderful creatures such as the Standing Ovation, the Ill Omen, the Glowing Report and the Ugly Rumor. The two humans go in search of the Doubt, and as their adventure takes them into the jungle, even more fabulous creatures are encountered. The original Dial Press edition was illustrated by Edward Gorey, in a non-characteristic whimsical style unlike his usual gleefully dark drawings. Jacobs' writing is only lightly cynical, with more of an emphasis on wordplay, puns and gentle humor.
As the magazine's most prolific writer, Jacobs' work appears in most of the Mad reprint compilations. A compendium of all Jacobs' work, "MAD Zaps the Human Race," was published in 1984. He also wrote new titles under the Mad brand name, and contributed scripts to Don Martin's original paperbacks. Jacobs provided the commentary for "MAD Cover to Cover," a 2000 book of the magazine's cover images.
- MAD For Better Or Verse (Signet 1968 / Warner Books 1975), illustrated by Paul Coker, Jr
- Sing Along with MAD (Signet 1970 / Warner Books 1977 ),illustrated by Al Jaffee
- MAD About Sports (Warner Paperback Library 1972), illustrated by Jack Rickard with Don Martin
- MAD's Talking Stamps (Warner Paperback Library 1974)
- The MAD Turned-On Zoo (Warner Paperback Library 1974), illustrated by Bob Clarke (Clarke also co-wrote the material)
- The MAD Jumble Book (Warner Paperback Library 1975), co-written by Max Brandel and illustrated by Bob Clarke
- More MAD About Sports (Warner Books 1977), illustrated by Bob Clarke
- MAD Around The World ( Warner Books 1979), illustrated by Paul Peter Porges
- MAD Goes Wild ( Warner Books 1981) , Illustrator and Co-Writer: Bob Clarke
- Get Stuffed With MAD ( Warner Books 1981), illustrated by Bob Clarke
- The MAD Jock Book ( Warner Books 1983), illustrated by Jack Davis
- MAD Goes To Pieces ( Warner Books 1984)
- MAD's Believe It Or Nuts! (Warner Books 1986), illustrated by Bob Clarke
- Canvas Confidential – A backward Glance at the World of Art (The Dial Press 1963), illustrated by Kelly Freas and co-written with Sy Reit
- 30 Ways To Stop Smoking (Pocket Books 1964), co-written with Alfred Gescheidt
- The Highly Unlikely Celebrity Cookbook (New American Library 1964), illustrated by Mort Drucker
- It Came From Madison Avenue (Kanrom Inc., New York, 1964), co-written with Nick Meglin
- Alvin Steadfast On Vernacular Island (The Dial Press 1965), illustrated by Edward Gorey
- The MAD World Of William M.Gaines (Lyle Stuart Inc. 1972) (Paperback edition: Bantam Books Inc. 1973)
- Pitiless Parodies (Dover Books on Literature & Drama 1994)
- Casey At The Bat Baseball Cards: The Mudville Nine ( Dover Publications 1995), illustrated byTony D'Adamo
- Batty Baseball Cards (Dover Publications 1995)
- Fun With Hand Shadows (Dover Games & Puzzle Activity Books 1996), co-written withHenry Bursill
- Looney Limericks (Dover Games & Puzzle Activity Books 1999), illustrated by Larry Doste