NYCC 2018: Mad About MAD Magazine Blending Tradition And Modernity

by Brendan M. Allen

MAD Magazine has been a thorn in the side of parents, teachers, and clergy for more than six decades. Founded back in 1952 by Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Gaines, the magazine that masquerades as a comic book has been an insanely influential piece of social and political satire, taking good, hard pokes at pop culture, politics, entertainment and public figures.

MAD Magazine’s New York Comicon 2018 panel was all about presenting the “all new” MAD, while paying tribute to its long and storied history.
In response to a few years of stagnant sales, the magazine underwent a complete relaunch back in April. MAD rolled out a new logo, moved to Burbank, CA, and reset issue numbering back to 1. The rebranding has met with some pushback from fans on social media, which the folks at MAD take as a sign they’re doing something right. We were treated to a video of Allie Goertz singing her original tune “Everyone Loves Us,” as a bunch of ridiculously angry tweets scrolled in the background.

The dais sat editor Bill Morrison, art director Suzy Hutchinson, writers and artists Desmond Devlin, Tom Bunk, Dick DeBartolo, Tom Richmond, and Luke McGarry (The Usual Gang of Idiots). There were a bunch of stories from the old school writers, but the new kids were also given plenty of mic time. The MAD reboot isn’t just a gimmicky renumbering and an office move.

As dedicated as MAD is to honoring their long history, they’re also reaching across social media to a new generation of readers. They’ve completely redesigned their website, and they have an active Twitter and Facebook presence. They’ve even got a Twitch channel, where they broadcast live wackiness every other Friday.

This felt like more of a show than a panel, which is cool. There was a lot of interaction with the audience, cool stories, and some sweet, sweet prizes. MAD really wants you to know there’s a new format, which is a lot like the old format, but you know, hipper.

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