List of Mad issues
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The humor magazine Mad has had a consecutive run for well over half a century, making a transition over the years from color comic book to black-and-white magazine to color magazine, presenting a constant parade of parodies.
When Harvey Kurtzman began editing Mad in 1952, his intention was simply to satirize comic book genres. He had no idea that his comic book was destined to become a publishing phenomenon that would reach a circulation of 2,132,655 by 1974, be reprinted in slick, full-color hardcover slipcased editions and transform the culture of the 20th Century. The cultural significance of Kurtzman and his creation were noted by the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Art Spiegelman:
- Kurtzman's Mad held a mirror up to American society, exposing the hypocrisies and distortions of mass media with jazzy grace and elegance. He's our first post-modern humorist, laying the groundwork for such contemporary humor and satire as Saturday Night Live, Monty Python and Naked Gun.
Evolution and expansion
Kurtzman's expansion to parodies of radio, films and television was a step-by-step evolution, and not all readers were familiar with the numerous satirical sources and references, including some drawn from contemporary and classical literature. Readers could have enjoyed the first issue of Mad without being aware that it featured a lampoon of an E. M. Forster short story and a reference to the sound effects in James Thurber's short story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."
Forgotten and obscure sources
Mad did not restrict its attentions to the popular culture of the day. A baseball story in the second issue is a twist on Stephen Vincent Benét's "The Devil and Daniel Webster." In the fifth issue, the Renfrew of the Royal Mounted source was already more than a decade out of date for the readers of 1953 and is exponentially more obscure today. Some subtle distinctions may not be readily apparent in reading the material. For instance, "Dragged Net" in the third issue is a parody of the Dragnet radio show, but "Dragged Net" in issue #11 satirized the Dragnet television series.
Such sources are illuminated in the following sequential listing of all Mad issues. It also includes the debuts of notable contributors. As with all parodies, a knowledge of the subjects being satirized is necessary for a full understanding of the humor. The early Mad poetry lampoons are an exception to this rule, since they used the original text of notable poems but added exaggerated, extreme cartoon illustrations.
List of issues
- List of Mad issues (1952–59)
- List of Mad issues (1960–69)
- List of Mad issues (1970–79)
- List of Mad issues (1980–89)
- List of Mad issues (1990–99)
- List of Mad issues (2000–09)
- List of Mad issues (2010–present)
- Cochran, Russ. Mad, volumes one, two, three and four. West Plains, Missouri: Russ Cochran, Publisher, 1986.
- "Harvey Kurtzman Is Dead at 68; Cartoonist Was Creator of Mad," The New York Times, February 23, 1993.
- "A Science Fiction Collection for Harvard." Harvard Library Bulletin, Vol. IX, No. 3, 1955.
- Stewart, Bhob. "Tuning in Mad," Comic Book Marketplace no. 119, January 2005.
- Index to Mad