MORE THAN 40 years ago this month, MAD Magazine founder William M. Gaines managed to outrage hundreds of his loyal readers, all by barely lifting a finger. For the April 1974 issue of his happily juvenile comedy rag—a mix of pop-culture parodies, political humor, and sound-effect-saturated comic strips—Gaines’ staff went with a cover illustration guaranteed to shock school teachers and parents around the country: A raised middle finger, accompanied by the declaration that MAD was the “Number One Ecch Magazine.” Gaines had casually approved the image, which he didn’t even find that funny. But when some of the magazine’s nearly 2 million readers began complaining, he wound up personally writing letters of apology. “We put it out, and the roof fell in,” Gaines later said of the issue.
It’s hard to imagine a similarly outraged reaction to the just-released MAD No. 1, the first issue since its publisher, DC Entertainment, announced a much-needed relaunch.
Wired makes it sound like Mad had gone away. But it had not. As a matter of fact, we bought a subscription for our oldest son for Christmas.
I wonder if the Wired writer knew that. Or it mattered.