MAD Magazine was verboten at my house when I was growing up so the only chances I ever got to read it were when I was at friends’ houses. And while I treasured those brief chances in retrospect I realize I never got the chance to really study the incredible amount of detail that went into MAD’s parodies, especially in the art itself. MAD artist Jack Davis, part of the “usual gang of idiots”, recently passed away and it’s amazing to look at some of his work, such as this cover of It’s A World, World, World, World, MAD. As a kid I could have, and probably would have, spent hours going over pictures like this with a magnifying glass examining the details.
I feel like my childhood was deprived when it could have been depraved. Studio 360’s story on MAD Magazine’s influence highlights how the magazine created a generation of smartasses, or at least tried to. It was the preadolescent counter-culture, mocking the culture we knew—everything from TV sitcoms to Star Wars was fair game. MAD Magazine never talked down to kids. Instead it tried to raise us up—by taking everything else down a notch.
Here’s a portrait by Davis of MAD’s publisher William Gaines, fellow illustrator George Woodbridge, and writer Dick DeBartolo from the book Completely Mad by Maria Reidelbach.
Hail and farewell Jack Davis.