The Decline and Fall of Mad Magazine

Everybody in the press and social media has been commenting on the recent announcement of Mad Magazine's projected demise, so why not me? As one of "the usual gang of idiots", I certainly have the credentials to at least make note of this sad turn of events on my blog/archive.

Below is a reprint of my posting, dated August 29, 2006, which told of my brief involvement with Mad. In the next few days, I will reprint another Mad-related posting. Sad news indeed.

Posted by Eli on August 29, 2006 - 2:39am

Gagwriting is one-quarter of the thrill of being a gag cartoonist. The other three quarters are drawing the gag, selling it and finally, seeing it in print. In 1968 I came up with an idea that I couldn't seem to develop into a cartoon, but it occured to me that it could possibly become a pretty good spread in Mad magazine. I roughed out a layout, wrote a lot of copy, and sent it out.

I soon heard from Mad Editor Nick Meglin, who said he was interested in the concept and the writing, but he wanted to farm it out to one of his regular artists to draw. (See my posting about Tom Wesselmann -- the same proposal was made to him by The New Yorker.) I pondered for a while about what leverage I had if I were to insist on doing the artwork myself (absolutely none, I decided), so I said OK to Mr. Meglin's offer.

The two-page spread appeared in the October 1968 issue, illustrated by Joe Orlando. The images below were taken from the reprint of the article in the paperback book Steaming Mad, which appeared years later.

So I got paid the writer's fee instead of the artist's fee, and that's how I became one of Mad's "usual gang of idiots" and a hero to my little kids. mada1068.JPGmadb1068.JPGmadc1068.JPGmadd1068.JPGmade1068.JPGmadf1068.JPGmadg1068.JPGmadh1068.JPG


Dartnell, 1988

Buy Lines, December 23, 1985

Selling Power, January/February 1992

Winner of Eli's Cartoon Caption Contest No. 148

                           "I can't wait to get out of here next week.

                          I really need to update my Myspace page!"

                                          (by Ronn Roxx)


My original caption: "Yes, for a while there, I was on the round-up-the-usual-suspects 'A' list."


Congratulations, Ronn Roxx, on this, your third victory! Once again, your Myspace page can announce to the world that you are one of the funniest people around.

These are the other caption submissions that I was seriously considering for top honors:

"This is the life. No rent, no bills, and free health care." (by Diane)

"Talk about your 'Small World', you worked for Trump, too?" (by Kay Ralph)

"I'm just here for the free haircuts." (by Richard Wolf)

"So, do you think it is too late to enter the Democratic primary?" (by Kelasher)

"Oh, it's just bank fraud, a few hundred million. It paid for my lawyers. I'll be out any day now." (by Jonathan Stein)

"I told the judge I was taking the fifth. Then I picked it up and made a run for it." (by Charles Vaughan)

"I'm in for contempt of court. I told the judge she looked fat in that robe." (by Mel Tanenbaum)

"It's mostly non-violent here, except for occasional pillow fights." (by Cary Antebi)


Thanks for your paricipation, captioneers. Look for the next Contest in a few short weeks.

Eli's Cartoon Caption Contest No. 148

Contest No. 148 starts right now.

Briefly, here are the details: I'll supply a drawing of one of my old cartoons that has never been published, leaving off my caption. You are invited to supply your funniest captions. Simply (1) click on "Add New Comment". Then (2) scroll down past any other submitted captions and type in your name and your caption in the spaces provided. You will also be asked to verify that you are a human being and not a robot. Please follow the instructions in the "Captcha" box. Then (3) click "Save".

Your caption (or captions) will be posted after I review your submission. Also, no captions at all will be posted for the first few days of each contest. This is to give everybody a chance to submit their spontaneous, gut-instinct caption without fear of discovering that it was ripped off by somebody else's similar spontaneous, gut-instinct caption. This is an equal opportunity contest!

There is no limit on the number of captions you may enter for each drawing, but I will only post and consider the first 15 captions from any contestant. Entries will be accepted and posted for one week, after which a winner will be announced and the winning caption will be printed. Below that I will also print my original caption.

The cut-off time and date for you to send in your captions is midnight Tuesday, June 25, 2019.   

I will be the sole judge. The winning caption will be the one I judge to be the funniest one submitted (not necessarily the one that matches or comes closest to my original caption). Additional rules and regulations, for those of you who need such things, can be found here.

Below is the drawing that needs your funny captions.

Parts Pups, 1985

Community Press Service, 1998

Community Press Service, 1987

Dartnell, February 28, 1990


Subscribe to Eli Stein Cartoons RSS