Monday, June 13, 2022

My misspent youth

Longtime reader, Mike Bloodworth, asked a FQ that’s become an entire post.

It was:

What were you into when you were a kid? Did you read MAD magazine and/or the NATIONAL LAMPOON? Were you a comic book guy? What were your Saturday morning viewing habits? Bugs and Daffy?

MAD Magazine was my bible growing up.  Both for the gags and some spectacular cartoonists.  Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Wallace Woods, Don Martin, Al Jaffe — the list goes on.  

In college I graduated to NATIONAL LAMPOON.  They were so subversive.  I bet 90% of the brilliant stuff they did back then society would not allow them to do today — which is a cryin’ shame.  

I also loved SPY Magazine.  

For single-panel cartoons there was always the New Yorker, but in those days there were lots of other magazines that featured cartoons.  ESQUIRE, PLAYBOY (Yeah, that’s why I wanted to get my hands on a PLAYBOY — to see the cartoons), LOOK, and quite a few more.

And since I was a nerd (which I’m sure comes as a complete shock to you), I was a big comic book and comic strip fan.  

Other than Batman and Superman, the comics I gravitated towards focused more on being funny.  I loved the classics:  POPEYE, PEANUTS, HI & LOIS, BLONDIE, SNUFFY SMITH, BRINGING UP FATHER, WIZARD OF ID, BROOM HILDA, ALLEY OOP, and others.  

TV cartoons:  Crusader Rabbit was my favorite, followed by Rocky & Bullwinkle.  They were funny and clever and contained a lot of humor that I knew was over my head, but I liked a show I could watch with Dad.  

I loved Looney Tunes waaaay more than Disney cartoons.  They were edgier, less polished, and way more inspired.  I still love Warner Brother cartoons.

The original Max Fleisher Popeye cartoons were the best.  All that followed — the Paramount era, etc. — sucked in my opinion.  

I also liked Mighty Mouse and some of the Hanna-Barbera stuff.  The first year of both THE FLINTSTONES and THE JETSONS were pretty terrific and then they fell off quickly.  Oh, I also liked TOP CAT.  

Other cartoonists I admired:  Al Hirschfeld who was a God, Virgil Patch (VIP), R. Crumb, Charles Addams, Walt Kelly (POGO), Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Rube Goldberg, Rick Griffen who drew for surf magazines, and a few political cartoonists like Paul Conrad in the LA TIMES.   And I’m sure I’m leaving out ten more.  

So to answer your question, Mike:  All of the above. 


Mike Barer said...

Looney Tunes were just funnier than the Disney ones. Bugs Bunny was a riot.
Bullwinkle was very satirical and had some memorable lines.

Lemuel said...

I knew Rick Griffin through album covers. When he died I saw an article which showed that he had converted, thus the drawings of Christ on a surfboard. The movie Pacific Vibrations showed Griffin painting a van with a bunch of surfers, adding his trademark flying eyeballs.
Big Daddy Roth can be seen in a 1971 PBS feature including Martin Mull crooning stanzas about Detroit stealing Roth's designs. I only saw Bikini Beach on dvd 20 years ago but I could spot Sid Haig doing a Roth imitation (the character was named "Big Daddy").

cjdahl60 said...

Rocky and Bullwinkle also had other cartoons as part of their show that were great in their own right: Dudley Do-Right, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, Fractured Fairy Tales, etc. This whole group were my favorites as I plopped down in the front of the TV after school. Although the Looney Tunes crew were a close second.

Sean MacDonald said...

In reference to the Popeye cartoons, I just want to mention that the original comic strips were even better (the ones by the original creator at least). They have recently been collected and published in several quite nice volumes.

For those who don't know, the original version of Popeye wasn't someone who became temporarily strong by eating spinach. Instead, the character of Popeye was always ridiculously strong and tough because of his regular diet of spinach. You could even shoot him with a gun hundreds of times and he'd be fine, all because he tended to eat a lot of spinach at meal times.

The only times (in these original strips) that he would need to seek out spinach to gain strength would be times when he had not been able to eat spinach for days on end. Then, he would weaken a bit and need to find some spinach to eat to regain his normal strength. One time, he got away with eating some seaweed that was somewhat spinach-like.

Anyway, there was a lot of wit and cleverness in these early strips and I highly recommend them.

It's also interesting to note that the comic strip he appeared in ("Thimble Theater") had existed for years without him. He was a late addition to the cast of characters that mainly featured Olive Oyl's family, such as her mother Nana Oyl, her father Cole Oyl, and her brother Castor Oyl, along with Olive Oyl's pre-Popeye boyfriend, Ham Gravy. A lot of strips involved the adventures of Castor Oyl and Ham Gravy.

And before that, Thimble Theater was just a one-panel strip that commented on current movies.

Anonymous said...

The golden era of animation (and earlier newspaper bullpen cartoonists) were full of colorful individuals. So many wanted that golden ring of a syndicated newspaper strip. Some were foiled by alcoholism, mental illness or gambling. Some stayed in the game for the camaraderie or happiness their home life didn’t have. I don’t think anyone has crafted a fictional period story set among such a crew (THE DUCK FACTORY wasn’t quite it).
In a different era, you might have had a career not unlike Frank Tashlin’s…?

Brian O.

Anonymous said...

A sadly forgotten cartoon superstar is HUCKLEBERRY HOUND, the show that really launched the Hanna Barbera empire in the early 60's. It was funny enough to be popular with kids, college students and even parents. And from that show came the YOGI BEAR Show, surely the first cartoon spin-off!

Gary said...

Sorry, I didn't mean for my HUCK HOUND post to be anonymous. "Oh my darlin'..."

Joseph Scarbrough said...

I grew up as part of the cartoon generation: Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network were still not only relatively new, but they both had just gotten into the business of creating original content, so my generation was exposed to a new wave of television animation. Even though I'm a puppeteer and Content Creator now, cartoons were always my first love, and growing up with shows like ROCKO'S MODERN LIFE, HEY ARNOLD! CATDOG, DEXTER'S LABORATORY, JOHNNY BRAVO, COW AND CHICKEN, ED, EDD N EDDY, COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG, and others really influenced me into wanting to become an animator myself, and create my own show to join the ranks of these influential animated shows . . . the problem was once I took an animation course during my high school years (and we learned how to animate in Flash, back before it became an industry standard, and was used almost exclusive for web animation, like HOMESTAR RUNNER and the like), I came to realize what taxing, tedious, and tiring work animation really is (especially for just one person), so soon figured out that it was not for me at all - I quickly grew tired and burned out of it after only two years. I swore off animation as a career path, but I do know that some animators out there have a really driving passion for this in spite of its tedious nature, so this is also why I maintain a high level of respect for animators for having the patience to stick with it - because I sure didn't.

Having said that however, one thing I have been able to do over the years is comics. At one point, I even created a webcomic miniseries called VAMPIRE GIRL, which chronicled the life of a vampire girl . . . who didn't want to be a vampire. Alas, it went largely unnoticed, so I guess even as far as webcomics go, it could be considered "underground."

Joe K said...

Earlier versions of Tom and Jerry are still a riot but would never be made today. Tex Avery was a genius
Droopy Vs the Wolf and the Southern Wolf vs the 3 little pigs still make me laugh till this day. The three bears Henry, Ma and Junior from Warner Brothers, when junior fills Henry’s pipe and spells out gunpowder as tobacco I still loose it.

Buttermilk Sky said...

If you read Playboy (for the cartoons) you surely remember the genius of Gahan Wilson. Macabre and hilarious. I believe he left me permanently warped, and I'm grateful.

gottacook said...

When I was growing up my parents had a copy of "Funny Bar Book" with many Virgil Partch (not Patch) cartoons. I especially remember the depictions of hangovers. Later (in the late '60s) I became a Mad subscriber, and then a Lampoon subscriber starting with the January 1973 issue (the famous cover with the dog and revolver). I didn't renew after 1975 as each issue became less funny.

Another notable cartoonist of the era was Arnold Roth, a Philadelphia classmate of my late father; Roth is still alive but perhaps not active.

I still have somewhere my beat-up Huckleberry Hound LP.

Joyce Melton said...

Two giants of comic book writing were Carl Barks (Donald Duck, Unca Scrooge) and John Stanley (Little Lulu, Tubby). Until his last years in the business, Barks drew almost all of his own stuff. Stanley drew many of his own stories but also worked a lot with artist collaborators.

They were both good cartoonists, Batks being regarded as one of the very best ever, but where they really shined was in their writing. Intricate stories with dialog and characterization worthy of being considered literature.

And funny. Jeez, were they funny!

When I write, whatever I write, I consider these two men to be prominent influences. Barks knew how to tell a tale that had a beginning, a middle and an end that all flowed as a single integrated narrative, complete and satisfying. And Stanley had a knack for a turn of phrase or a plot twist that made you take notice and wonder just where genius like that came from.

Mike Bloodworth said...

Thank you so much, Ken. I finally rate a whole post. I was afraid you were going to say, "For the answer read my book, 'The Me Generation by Me." (Shameless, sycophantic plug) Not that I won't buy it. I just haven't yet.

I too loved MAD and the LAMPOON. Unfortunately, a leaky roof ruined my collection.
For me Bugs Bunny and the Warner Brothers cartoons were king. But it depended on the director. Love POPEYE. I have the early Black & Whites on DVD.

I was never really a comic book guy, but I did love the so called "underground" comics e.g. Zap and The Freak Brothers, etc. That includes R. Crumb.

Hanna-Barbara was in its heyday when I was growing up. I watched all the shows you mentioned plus "Johnny Quest," "Yogi Bear" and some of the lesser characters such as "Magilla Gorilla." All of the J. Ward cartoons are near the top of my list, especially "R&B" and "George of the Jungle. " Honorable mention to to "The Archie's." Although, most of the other Filmation fare was mediocre at best.
Not a cartoon, but my generation also had the live action shows like "H.R. Puffinstuff."
As for Disney...hock spitoo! As for Disney, my favorite characters are Donald Duck (he was always right on the edge) and Goofy because is was...well...goofy. "Mighty Mouse" when he was singing opera.

Thanks again, Ken. I'll be looking forward to Tuesday's blog. Oh, right. Well, the next blog.


mitch said...

One you didn't mention, but fits into the style of Bullwinkle, is Pink Panther. But maybe that was after your time in PJs at 7am Saturday morning. One thing about the disney cartoons, they weren't around as much as Looney tunes or Warner.

One character people forget in the Popeye cartoons, was Olive Oil's gear head brother, Motor Oil.

I'm not a robot.

Unknown said...

Great to see the Lampoon "True Facts" collection in Ken's header photo. I remember in the regular Lampoon magazine column, and in one of the "TF" collections also, they'd call out the frequency of "bus plunge" newspaper headlines; I still see a headline saying "Bus Plunges" today and think of the Lampoon, and of John Bendel. The Lampoon High School Yearbook and the Sunday newspaper parody were next-level subversive, up there with David Letterman in shaping my comic sensibilities. Those two massive parodies need to be read page-by-page, line-by-line to truly appreciate how crazy and committed the writers were. ...Aside from Crusader Rabbit (slightly before my time), everything Ken mentions hits home. .. I do my best to send a couple of "Far Side" panels to my 30-something son each week, and am proud to have introduced my kids to Monty Python, Pinky & the Brain, the Simpsons, etc. Sorry for the long post but this hit home -- great question and great answer! ... Now on to the internet archive to relive my "True Facts" obsession!

Jeff Boice said...

Boys read MAD. Girls read 16. The two were similar- neither accepted advertising, both were printed on cheap paper, and they made their profit from hawking their books.

MAD was enlightening. I remember one of their ad parodies for a cold medicine which pointed out the product did nothing to cure the cold- it just covered up the symptoms so you'd feel good enough to go out and spread your cold to others- thus making more customers for the product. And the little lightbulb lit up over my head... They're right!

Still miss the Sunday mornings with the big color comics sections that had one (maybe two) comics per page. By the time you finished your hands were filthy.

Bob Waldman said...

Hi Ken,
My dad animated one of the early Fleischer Popeye's. From 1934, here's Can You Take It?
Part 1:
Part 2:

Brian said...

No mention of Doonsbury?

Cap'n Bob said...

My tastes and experiencess echo yours, Ken. Just one tiny correction, if I may. It's Wallace "Wally" Wood, not Woods. I met him very briefly in New York at a comic con in 1972. His work is the stuff of genius.

DBenson said...

Boomer toon time:

Loony Tunes were the hippest, even the ones dating back to the late 30s. Somehow the pop culture references ("Something NEW has been added!") were funny even when we didn't know the source. But really disliked the 60s-made Road Runners.

Rocky and Bullwinkle -- and pretty much anything by Jay Ward, including cereal commercials -- was not only hip but made topical jokes we got. Yes, they looked really fast and cheap. But that worked perfectly with the dialogue that whipped by, sometimes sounding like ad libs: "In the late 1800s Canada was overrun by Canadians and smugglers ..." I still miss the prime time Bullwinkle show with the hand puppet. Decades later when "Animaniacs" and "Freakazoid" went for the same vibe, the production was ironically too slick which killed a lot of the jokes. Full orchestra stings work for a Bugs Bunny zinger, but not for what's meant to play as a throwaway non-sequitur.

Beany and Cecil: The animated version of Bob Clampett's puppet show. Relentless outrageous punning: They visit No Bikini Atoll to find the singing Dinah-Saur.

Hanna Barbara was the default in those primitive days: Anything that wasn't an old theatrical cartoon was usually theirs. Old enough to remember when Yogi Bear, originally part of the Huckleberry Hound show, spun off to his own series. As our host observes, they often started strong and faded fast.

Disney cartoons weren't comedy as much as comfort food. They were part of the boomer kid deluxe going-to-the-movie experience, which included an air-conditioned theater, a tub of popcorn soaked in some petroleum byproduct, and a box of Whoppers. The feature could be a Disney B, an Irwin Allen cheesefest or, if you were lucky, a Harryhausen. On TV they only appeared as part of the World of Color -- itself a sacred preteen ritual -- or at the end of the Mickey Mouse Club, where they often unspooled real relics featuring dancing flowers and such.

Woody Woodpecker shared the Disney toon's TV scarcity, appearing only on the Woody Woodpecker Show. There Walter Lantz appeared as a cut-rate but amiable Uncle Walt, bantering with Woody and telling how cartoons were made. In the neighborhood bijou Lantz's toons -- Woody, the Beary Family, Inspector Willoughby -- would preface Universal matinee fare, often starring Don Knotts. A cheaper comfort food, like off-brand orange soda, room temperature. For what it's worth, you could usually find 8mm Castle Films of Woody Woodpecker and Andy Panda at department stores and camera shops .

MGM cartoons had just a bit of plush MGM stodginess about them. Tom & Jerry and the Tex Avery goodies were the gold standard for laughs; at the bottom of the scale were Barney Bear and the quasi-Disney "cute" ones.

The Fleischer Popeyes that began with the doors on a boat were real classics; in my youth the push for color programming edged them off the air. The later toons by Famous/Paramount were tolerable at best; the studio's other toons -- Herman and Katnip, Baby Huey, Little Audrey, and Casper the Friendly Ghost -- were what you watched when no other cartoons were on and your peers weren't around. Likewise most of the Terrytoons.

Pink Panther and The Inspector were a very mixed bag, starting off strong and dropping to TV level. The Panther devolved from a cool cat to a cheerful oaf, his mojo restored by Richard Williams for the title sequences to the movie sequels.

Early Filmation adventure shows -- Superman, Aquaman, Fantastic Voyage, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and even The Hardy Boys -- managed to be cheap and cool-looking at the same time. Archie and Sabrina, maybe. Brady Kids -- check, please.

A local kid show host, Captain Satellite, showed Columbia theatricals: Weird B&W Scrappy and Krazy Kat cartoons, plus what felt like demented MGM knockoffs.

A puzzlement: Little Rascals were on constantly, but Laurel and Hardy got very little airtime when I was a kid.

ScarletNumber said...

Even as a kid I didn't like the fiction that my classmates read, so my teacher had me read The Great Brain series of books by John Fitzgerald, about a Catholic family in Mormon Utah in the early part of last century. The titular character was the middle son of the family, who liked to con the other children out of their possessions, under the guise of teaching them a lesson. Even though it was fictionalized, the Fitzgerald clan was spellbinding.

Jeff said...

I'm 7 years younger, and I grew up in a couple of medium-sized cities in Wisconsin, yet we share many of the same likes and influences. Thought about going into radio as you did, but I wound up in newspapers. My comedy writing thus was limited to the occasional clever or irreverent headline.

iamr4man said...

The guys who wrote the early HB cartoons like The Flintstones were the same guys as the ones that wrote the Looney Tunes. I don’t think guys like Michael Maltese get enough credit.
You should have Mark Evanier on your podcast again just to talk about that stuff. He worked for HB in the early 70’s and has a ton of anecdotes about the guys who made us laugh in the 60’s. And as I’m sure you know he helps write a comic with his good friend, the great Mad artist Sergio Aragon├Ęs.
He has a great anecdote about sharing an office with the legendary animation director Tex Avery where he showed a sketch to Tex and asked who drew it and he pointed to a guy who happened to be visiting him that day, Virgil Partch! Here’s a link to that story, which mostly involves Spike Jones.

Mibbitmaker said...

I grew up in the '60s & '70s. Oddly enough, favorite artists in different areas often came in 3's.

Comic books (also just the funny ones): George Wildman (Popeye, mainly - Charlton), Howard/Howie Post (Spooky, Hot Stuff - Harvey), and Harry Lucey, who was the main "Archie" artist.

Classic animation: Jones, Clampett, and Avery (esp. for his MGM work).

Classic editorial cartoons: Pat Oliphant, Don Wright, and Jeff MacNelly.

Popeye cartoons - late '60s-very early '70s had only color cartoons until c. 1971, a farther-away station came in and I got to see the Fleischer ones for a couple days. Not long after that, all eras of Popeye were available to watch normally.

WB cartoons - Similarly, I could only see the post-1948s and badly redrawn B&W ones in color. I loved Looney Tunes, but they didn't become my favorites until I got to see the pre-'48 ones as a young adult.

The Flintstones were favorites. While I enjoyed the whole series then, the 1st season was always my favorite season, too. Having said that, the 2 LOL funniest were from later seasons - Pebbles' Birthday Party (esp. those animation-looped dancing girls), and the one when Great Gazoo conjured up "Fred and Barney Nothing" to "solve" F&B's sitcom-cliche problem. For one cartoon half hour, "Yes, yes, yes" and "No, no, no" were the funniest words in the English language.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

@Joyce Melton

I'm also a huge admirer of John Stanley and love reading his Little Lulu strips for entertainment and inspiration. I highly recommend a biography of John Stanley that came out a few years ago, Giving Life to Little Lulu. There are also interviews online with the bio's writer Bill Schelly. There's a new series of Little Lulu reprints, I think three volumes so far, with a foreword by Margaret Atwood who's also a fan.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

I've been watching the Carol Burnett Show on PlutoTV and noticing how many MAD contributors are credited as writers on the show, e.g., Arnie Kogen, Larry Hart, etc. There's a real MAD flavor to film and TV parodies on the CB show. There's a subversiveness to CBS that probably doesn't get enough credit.

Ken, do you recall the MAD feature written by Tom Koch, "The Evolution of a TV Situation Comedy"? It came out in 1983, I can't find it online but it's so bizarre and funny.

Another favorite is one from the 50s about How to be a MAD Non-conformist (art by George Woodbridge):

I always thought Kramer was in the vein of a MAD Non-conformist.

But WTF is "16"?

Spike de Beauvoir said...


One of my earliest memories is going to the grocery store with my mom and being plopped into a red toy car with a bench and tiny movie screen that showed cartoons. I only remember the Woody Woodpeckers, they must have been very kinetic because I was in raptures and never wanted to leave.

YEKIMI said...

I too watched all those cartoons [Looney, Harvey, Popeye, etc] but my main thing was being fascinated with the voices. By high school I was pretty adapt at imitating most of the voices of the characters [Bugs Bunny being the one exception] and they sorta got me outta trouble....sometimes. Also could do a decent impression of Paul Lynde, Richard Nixon, Liberace, etc. Try and do them today and I get a "What the hell was that?" Was able to do a great Woody Woodpecker laugh until my voice changed. Didn't find out till years later about Daws Butler, Paul Frees, Stan Freburg [Pete Puma I can still do to this day] and Mel Blanc who I found out long after my grandpa had died that he had known Mel. Wish I had known that before he had passed away, I probably would have driven him nuts with so many questions.

Tod said...

I remember the story that Chuck Jones and the other Warner Bros. animators were angry with their longtime writer Michel Maltese for re-using his old WB gags when he went to Hanna-Barbera.

"But," Jones said later, "He used them all up inside a year and had to come up with new ones."

Anonymous said...

As a kid, there was nothing better to me than Fractured Fairy Tales and The Wizard of Id. (“The peasants are revolting!” King: “You can say that again” will never not be funny.)

Unknown said...

Here's a friday question for you. Are there writers out there that turn in mediocre work, but that work so fast they consistantly get work just because the showrunner knows they will hit the deadline? Even good shows seem to have "filler" episodes that aren't up to their usual standards.

Sajid Khan said...

16 was a teen idol magazine, mostly for young girls. There was also Tiger Beat.

maxdebryn said...

Frank Jacobs sorta biography of William M. Gaines (The Mad World of William M. Gaines) is a hoot and would make a terrific mini-series that would likely be better than the twee "The Offer".

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Ah, thank you! I sort of missed the teen idol phase but loved comic books.

chuckcd said...

Loved the Moose and Squirrel!

Michael said...

Love the story about Maltese with Hanna-Barbera. He was a stupendous gag writer, and could write a song, too ("The Michigan Rag" for Michigan J. Frog and "Return, My Love," for "What's Opera, Doc?"). And I think it was Jones who once said of their use of limited animation that Hanna and Barbera had a lot to answer for on judgment day.

A note about Warner Bros. cartoons being less polished. They had to come out to six minutes exactly and had budget restrictions. When Jones did "What's Opera, Doc?" he made a Road Runner cartoon on each side because those were easier and quicker for him and his crew, so he got an extra week from each one. Usually there are 60 background changes in a six-minute Warner Bros. cartoon. For THAT one, there were about 110.

Adventures in Radio said...

I found your blog post from some years back about the time you were a DJ when you got a call from the SLA, who had abducted Patty Hearst. Amazing story. So my Friday question is have you crossed paths with Hearst in the years since and if you did, did you tell her about that night?

By the way, this line from your post made me laugh out loud: 'Before I could ask if he would say, "Hi, we're the SLA and KYA is our favorite radio station!" he hung up.'

Stephen Cudmore said...

Are there writers out there that turn in mediocre scripts but keep getting assignments because showrunners know they work fast and can be counted on to produce something good enough by the deadline?

John Fries said...

MAD and Lampoon were part of my reading while growing up. When I was in my early-to-mid-teens, during the 1970s, I worked at a downtown newsstand (one of those street corner boxes) and had access to all kinds of reading material--the aforementioned plus comic books, Rolling Stone, Circus, and others. Years later I would write a book entitled "The Newsstand."

As someone who loved to read from childhood on, this was the ideal job. Plus, I got to know a lot of people of all types. Today, you'd be hard-pressed to fine a newsstand. But they were everywhere then.

Steve said...

In a similar vein, this article was fun.

Unknown said...

Forgot to sign this... Steve Cudmore

Charles H Bryan said...

Many of the things that you mentioned were also big parts of my formative years, but I just want to say this about Mort Drucker: My God, what a cartoonist! A lot of people can do caricatures, but to portray them in storytelling and to stay "on model"! Just incredible. Angelo Torres did likewise at MAD, but I always loved Drucker just a bit more.

Spike de Beauvoir said...

@John Fries

I don't know if you're a Chicagoan, but one of my first jobs was working as a proofreader downtown near the glorious State & Randolph newstand. I
hit it two or three times a day to buy whatever mags and papers I could afford. One movie that evokes that era in Chicago for me is Continental Divide with John Belushi.

A wonderful read on Looney Tunes history is the memoir Living Life Inside the Lines by inker & painter Martha Sigall.

maxdebryn said...

Oh my, I loved SPY! magazine, too. It never failed to make me laugh. It wasn't part of my "youth," though. I was in my twenties (mid) to thirties (late) when I was a subscriber.

Storm said...

I wish I still had the collected "Peekers and Other True Facts" book from National Lampoon! There's still a lot of running gags from that book with me and my oldest friends; two that come from photos of funny/broken signage are moaning "BABY NEEDS DRUGS" when I am painfully sober, and always calling KFC "UCKY FRIED ICK".

Cheers, thanks a lot,


D. McEwan said...

You could hardly have "Grown-Up" with The National Lampoon, as it began publication when you were 20.

I too read MAD religiously as a teenager. There are still song parody lyrics they published 60 years ago that I know by heart.

"I feel vicious, oh so vicious,
I feel vicious, malicious and low,
How delicious,
Just to think that I am hated so."
- "Nakita Kruschev" singing in EAST SIDE STORY in MAD, 60 years ago, typed from memory.

"I love you, Perry."
"Not now, Della"
- Running gag from "The Night Perry Masonmint Lost a Case," which MAD ran 60 years ago. Saying "Not now, Della," can still make me laugh.

When The Nation Lampoon began in 1970, I was already a fan of Doug Kenney's and Henry Beard's work in Bored of the Rings and their other Harvard Lampoon parody issues. So I subscribed the whole first decade it was published. It was my Bible. (My actual Bible I threw in the trash at 24, when I became an atheist.) When SNL premiered, I was watching live, to see George Carlin, but the first show began with Michael O'Donoghue onscreen, and I, at home, said, "Holy shit! That's Michael O'Donaghue!!!" He was already one of my idols. Never met him (Probably just as well), but I did meet Doug Kenney, who was a MAJOR influence on all my early writing.

These days, there are no old issues of MAD in my home. But the book Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, which profiles all the major creators (Writers and artists) at the Lampoon, with big art-book reproductions of their work published in better quality than they were in the magazine, sits on a shelf in my living room, right beside a hardcover of The National Lampoon's Tenth Anniversary Anthology, and a Blu-Ray of the documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. On another shelf in the living room sits Ellin Stein's great That's Not Funny, That's Sick: The National Lampoon and the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream beside Dennis Perrin's Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue, and Josh Karp's A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever. And on another shelf sits still The National Lampoon High school Yearbook Parody and The National Lampoon Sunday Newspaper Parody. (As the newspaper parody was published 47 years ago, on actual newspaper, it is now in a VERY delicate condition, yellowed, and fragile, ripping if you just look at it funny.)

The National Lampoon remains an important thing in my life. I've been lucky enough to have been befriended by a handful of Nat Lamp writers in recent years (And Ellin Stein, whom I heard from just yesterday), though that number shrinks as each one finishes the Lampoon Stations of the Cross: drunk, stoned, brilliant, DEAD.

D. McEwan said...

Though I was deep into adulthood when Spy Magazine began, yes, I loved it, and was proud to have had a letter published in it in its last year. The issue with my letter is now the only issue of Spy I still possess.

DyHrdMET said...

MeTV has those cartoons every morning in some form. Popeye, Betty Boop, Pink Panther, Tom & Jerry/Hanna Barbera, Looney Tunes/WB, Flintstones & Jetsons on Sundays.

maxdebryn said...

I had a letter published in "films and filming" when I was fifteen years old. It was a thrill, but I didn't feel any need to keep the magazine forever.

D. McEwan said...

"maxdebryn said...
I had a letter published in "films and filming" when I was fifteen years old. It was a thrill, but I didn't feel any need to keep the magazine forever."

You didn't? You threw out a magazine with a letter by you in it? Wow. I can not imagine doing that.

Over 30 years, I had letters printed in a number of magazines, and many times in the LA TIMES, and even once, decades ago, in an issue of Action Comics, and I certainly still have a copy or two of each one of them. I also keep copies of all the books I've written. And the "Baldy Award" DC Comics sent me for my Action Comics letter (Award-winning letter!) is in a frame on a wall with lots of other framed stuff. And in a drawer somewhere I have a copy of the Reader's Digest issue my dad had a letter printed in over half a century ago.

You have no future as an archivist.

maxdebryn said...

D. McEwan...

You didn't? You threw out a magazine with a letter by you in it? Wow. I can not imagine doing that.

Over 30 years, I had letters printed in a number of magazines, and many times in the LA TIMES, and even once, decades ago, in an issue of Action Comics, and I certainly still have a copy or two of each one of them. I also keep copies of all the books I've written. And the "Baldy Award" DC Comics sent me for my Action Comics letter (Award-winning letter!) is in a frame on a wall with lots of other framed stuff. And in a drawer somewhere I have a copy of the Reader's Digest issue my dad had a letter printed in over half a century ago.

You have no future as an archivist.

Good Lord, Douglas. I have film posters, comics, magazines, etc. that are older than you. I archive with the best of them.

P.S. I use a pseudonym here because two years ago, I was relentlessly stalked by a lunatic who was upset that I dared to joke about something that they had posted. The stalking included terrifying emails with threats to kill myself, my spouse, and our dog.

Roger Kaputnik said...

Spike de Beauvoir:
Ken, do you recall the MAD feature written by Tom Koch, "The Evolution of a TV Situation Comedy"? It came out in 1983, I can't find it online but it's so bizarre and funny.

Here you go. Page 21 of:

MAD Magazine writers who also wrote for The Carol Burnett Show:
Arnie Kogen, Stan Hart and Larry Siegel (three mainstays with hundreds of MAD articles apiece);
Gary Belkin (did a lot from 1959-62);
Jack Mendelsohn (a handful).

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Oh thank you! Even more hilarious than I remembered.

"Mangler is a certified psychopath (but a funny one)..."

And the spinoff titles:
The White Nebbish
One's Company

Spike de Beauvoir said...

Re the archivist points above: I used to save almost everything till I lost a lot of stuff in a storage fire, made me more of a minimalist by necessity. But one thing I had saved for a long while was my rejection letter from MAD magazine when I tried to submit some spec writing.