One Less Idiot.

worldofmadMAD 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.




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  1. Ann Koplow

    Chris, I was lucky enough to have a depraved and not deprived childhood — I got to read and study every issue of Mad magazine when I was growing up. That totally affected my world view and I’m so glad.

    RIP Jack Davis and thank goodness for the usual gang of idiots.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      You are extremely lucky and you’ve reminded me that some of those friends of mine whose copies of MAD I read were girls. The appeal crossed gender lines which is a wonderful thing.

  2. mydangblog

    We had a subscription to Mad growing up. Between that and Monty Python, I know where my weird and random sense of humour came from. I still remember the Star Wars parody, my brother and I laughing ourselves silly and repeating lines at the dinner table. RIP Jack.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Did Mad and Monty Python create your sense of humor or did they appeal to a sense of humor that was already there? That’s a chicken-or-egg question that’ll make you dizzy.

  3. Michelle

    I did enjoy MAD, but growing up with British imports I was more familiar with Python, Farty Towels, Billy Connolly, The Kenny Everett Video Show and The Goodies. But anything that takes the piss and reminds us to not take everything so seriously should all be required viewing/reading for kids!
    Possibly why I always preferred Marvel over DC; DC takes itself SO VERY SERIOUSLY, which is in itself hilarious.

    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Amazingly I was familiar with Python, Billy Connolly, and Kenny Everett–oh, how I loved Kenny’s take on the Bee Gees–before a lot of others in the US, although it wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I finally managed to see Fawlty Towers and I still haven’t gotten caught up on The Goodies.
      And please don’t think badly of me for admitting that in my preteen life I adored Benny Hill. It wasn’t the girls I liked–it was the way he took the piss out of mostly American TV shows. Benny Hill was also on TV nightly, unlike Python or Dave Allen, which were rare treats.


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