What a morning already!

*Magazines I Stole This Shtick From Dept: Looking through the November 2006 issue of Mad Magazine, I'm struck by how much it's changed since I was a kid. It's been said that the best era for Mad has always been 'when you were 12,' and I can believe it; back then, Mad had some real authority as one of the 'bad' magazined my mother didn't want me reading. It was all grotty b&w with the icy-looking typeset lettering appearing over everyone's heads. It felt like it made your hands dirty, literally, and that seemed all too apt.

Mad is different now. It's published by DC, for one. It's full-color. There's ads, which always gets to me; I'll be looking at a center double-page splash of native warriors fighting in promotion of Age of Empires III, and I'll wonder for a second what the joke is supposed to be. Nothing's more telling then turning to the inside-back cover and seeing Al Jaffee's familiar fold-in, then flipping over the the back cover and seeing an ad for the all-new 2007 Dodge Caliber, also styled like a fold-in, also drawn by Al Jaffee. Funny old world.

Still, Mad has gotten interestingly heavy on things like strips; there's several sections (The Strip Club, The Fundalini Pages) devoted to quick gags and random bits of comedy by a variety of artists, and there's a goodly number of contributions by alternative comics veterans; I know Peter Kuper has been doing Spy vs. Spy for years now, but there's also meaty sections featuring Peter Bagge and Ted Rall, and Johnny Ryan shows up in the letters pages (having been identified as a contributer himself). It's also nice to see artists like Tom Bunk still around, and obviously there's Sergio Aragones, so at times the magazine is also still a familiar-feeling one to me in multiple ways, glossy as it might be.

The jokes? Ah, it's Mad, you know? It skews young, gags about teachers and parents and the like; it probably always has for the last decade-plus at least, though obviously it never seemed that way when I was young. Perspective. There's always a few pleasures, and it's impressive that the general tone remains largely the same despite significant format changes and the need to give away dvd copies of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift in the letters section without accompanying jokes. Still sticks out to me, though...