If the phrase end of an era ever meant anything, this is it: As of October 2019, iconic Mad magazine will no longer produce new content after 67 years of publishing cutting-edge sardonic, sarcastic, satiric social commentary and plain old — as numerous parents, spouses, and teachers out of the loop across America have called it — stupid humor.

Mad was aimed at adolescents: the literal kind and the virtual kind, i.e., adults (granted, mostly males) of all ages with one foot remaining in their teenage years.

I still beat myself up for not taking better care of my substantial collection that was left at my parents’ house. Those issues were stacked neatly in the basement closet when I moved out a few years after high school. Over the succeeding decade, I resided out of state, living here and there during my post-adolescent years. Ultimately, Mom and Dad bought a new house, and my collection of Mads was either discarded during the move or left to one of a succession of invaders who took over my childhood home.

Thanks for the Mammaries

But the memories survive. For no apparent reason, certain Mad magazine highlights live on in my consciousness, waiting to be accessed for humorous analogous reference when circumstances arise.

There is the one-panel image of two guys filling up at the local gas station, one buying “Regular,” the other springing for “Premium.” The image is drawn with an X-ray view of the single underground tank supplying both customers.

There is the cartoon strip of a gathering of young mothers, their toddlers playing together in the next room. Suddenly, several terrifying shrieks emerge from that room. Each mother is supremely confident she recognizes her child’s wails as they all hurry to the rescue: “Oh, that’s my little Jimmy!” “No, I’d recognize Harold’s scream anywhere!” “You’re all wrong; there’s no question, that is my precious Priscilla in distress!” The source of the shrieks? The cat whose tail is being yanked mercilessly by several toddlers.

There is the guy at the hardware store warning his friend about the man approaching them: “Oh, there’s my boss, Bill. He’s such a blowhard. I give him about 30 seconds to work it into the conversation how rich he is.” Bill walks up, shakes his new acquaintance’s hand and says, “Hey, that’s a pretty firm handshake you have there — just like the mechanic who works on my Cadillac.”

And who can forget the classic words-of-wisdom poster: “It’s always very important to plan ahead,” with the words plan ahead curving down vertically because the artist ran out of room.

Oh, and the businessman in his crisp navy blue suit, walking tall, looking smug, admired by all around him for holding up so well even though his business is collapsing and his wife is divorcing him. When he gets to his office and closes the door, he falls to his knees and cries “MOMMY!”

The magazine is well-known for its creative political hits, especially the Watergate fiasco recast in a parody of The Sting. From Dwight Eisenhower to Richard Nixon and beyond, Mad has skewered presidents of both parties with equal-opportunity vigor.

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The Mad Trump Era

The obvious questions now are these: Did Mad magazine address the absurdity of Trump’s presidency? And if so, Why didn’t it get more attention?

Mad’s circulation peaked in 1974; it was founded in 1952 by William Gaines (publisher) and Harvey Kurtzman (editor). In the 21st century, it has faded from the cultural prominence it once enjoyed. I’m embarrassed to tell you that my two obsessions — politics (currently the inane, catastrophic Trump reign) and irreverent humor — did not prompt me to check in on Mad during this tumultuous time.

But it’s never too late.

Here is the marketing blurb on www.madmagazine.com for its June 2017 Mad About Trump paperback:

“‘MAD About Trump: A Brilliant Look At Our Brainless President’ is an all-out comedy assault on the most idiotic idiot to ever reach the White House (George W. Bush and visitors included)! In these 128 pages, President Trump is mercilessly mocked, relentlessly ridiculed, and savagely satirized. The book features MAD’s sharpest satiric shots at ‘The Donald,’ comically chronicling his rise from obnoxious businessman to really obnoxious reality show host to uber obnoxious ‘Commander-in-Tweet.’ Please note: MAD will not offer refunds on this book when Trump is impeached!”

(marketing description for Mad About Trump [paperback book]; https://www.madmagazine.com/books/mad-about-trump; retrieved 7/11/2019.)

Need a little more prompting? Check out Issue No. 546 (August 2017): “Take Your Kids to Work Every Day.” The cover features Donald sitting at the Oval Office desk with daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared standing behind him, Ivanka sneering at the sh*t-eating grinning Kushner.

One more. Remember (if you’re over 40 or so) the classic Coppertone sunscreen commercial, the one where the puppy on the beach is pulling down a cute little girl’s bathing suit bottom to expose a tiny bit of her untanned derriere? The May 2019 paperback Mad About the Trump Era Error cover features Donald — on all fours in his signature suit and over-long red tie — pulling down Vladimir Putin’s bathing suit with his teeth to expose the Russian president’s untanned butt. Shirtless Vlad is feigning childlike abashment. Oh, and Putin has a tatt of Alfred E. Neuman on his milky-hued left cheek.

I ordered my copies today. ■