[2003-01-31] CSS-ification of this page.
I've read MAD magazine for, oh, 20 years or so now. I used to have back issues going back to the late sixties. I've lived in around 15 different locations in those 20 years, but MAD has always been a constant. I even subscribed for a few years, until I got tired of trying to juggle my addresses and the subscription.
That being said, as of yesterday, 2001-03-04, I have bought my last MAD. For, you see, they have started including advertising. When I picked up #403, I mentally noted that it seems a little thicker than usual. I tossed it into the shopping cart and went on my way. I didn't notice anything until later, when I glanced down at the back cover and saw a Spy vs. Spt 'Altoids' printed there. It didn't look like a spoof, so I picked it up and scrutinized it. I nearly had a heart attack right then and there. An ad. I flipped to the front, to the index. Sure enough, a little note from the editor(s) crowing about 'full color' and ohbythewayadstoo.
Bill Gaines must be rolling over in his grave. He never wanted to include advertising in MAD. As a matter of fact, he fought against it tooth and nail. That's why MAD was always printed on cheap stock in black and white. That's why it said 'cheap' on the cover. He would have never, ever consented to this. He would have closed the magazine down rather than be beholden to other commercial interests such as this.
In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Color began seeping in, oh, I don't know, about a year ago. I pointed this out to my wife (who doesn't read MAD and didn't find 'color' as interesting as I did) but let it go, figuring it for just another step in the evolution. These were inserts, the rest of the magazine was still in B&W. More color crept in as the issues went on and I see now what they were trying to do. Let me guess...
I could say much more than what I have written here, but I won't. There's no need to. There was no warning and, what's more, there was no apology. Just a quick 'note from the editor' explaining that they had sold MAD down the river for a few bucks from Corn Nuts and Gatorade.
I will never buy a MAD mag as long as there is advertising in there and if this means that I never read it again, so be it. It's obviously not the same rag that I fell in love with several decades before and I can tell that this new one doesn't love me back.
Oh, Bill, where have you gone?
"The magazine's basics endure. Mad still does not accept advertising. Mad still savages advertisers -- a particularly pointed parody of the Absolut vodka ads is featured in the "new" Mad. Mad is still done in black and white, although that's a nod to finance as well as style."
Perhaps the key to MAD's independent spirit, and its most seditious act, was the decision made after the first few issues to accept no advertising, a policy that still stands after more than 40 years. "Gaines felt that if we accepted advertising from Pepsi, we wouldn't be able to satirize Coca-Cola," said Aragones. "When you accept advertising," said Meglin, "you suddenly have a 'target audience' you're trying to reach. But our guiding principle has always been to write the magazine for ourselves, not for some specific audience. We've always wanted to retain our freedom. And not accepting ads has enabled us to take on some big powers long before anybody else.