MAD selling its ‘Soul?’ …at gunpoint?

More about the Heritage Auction of the LAST pieces of original MAD art that I talked about in my last post: I must be getting Old-Timer’s Disease or something – because I had read years earlier, but forgotten, that Frank Jacobs, in the book “MAD – Cover to Cover,” referred to the very same original cover art that is among those now being auctioned off as “Soul of MAD“-covers, the early iconic Alfred E. Neuman covers which would “never be sold, no matter how high the offer.” Obviously something has happened between that line-in-the-sand declaration and now. Something that, oh, I’m guessing starts with the letters “DC“…as in “DC Comics, a division of soul-less media behemoth TIME-WARNER,” MAD’s bean-counting bosses these days.

I was reminded of the ‘We’ll NEVER sell these covers‘ quote by a commenter on MAD’s own message boards at madmag.com (Hey, I’m their most loyal reader!). But what floored me even more was the response to that comment by veteran MAD Writer Dick DeBartolo (who regularly comment-responds on the site):

Frank Jacobs was slightly mistaken in his wonderful book. Those covers were not the soul of MAD, but appendics [sic] of MAD. And due to a rupture, they must be removed. The MAD offices will still feature exact copies of the originals and you can be sure we will continue to pass them off as the true originals. But in the meantime you get to bid on covers that were the very soul of MAD! Furthermore, if you’re high bidder and win them, should you still feel bad, you could always donate them back to us!

Wow. Unless ‘ruptured appendix‘ is Dick’s code-phrase for what DC is doing to them generally, that whole thing seems like an extremely nonchalant and inappropriately “make-happy” comment, given the ominous circumstances. The only wisp of a hint of the possibility that they’re being involuntarily forced to sell off the MAD “treasures” (and that they’re not happy about it), is the last little bit about the high-bidders maybe donating the art back to the magazine.

So…if you’re looking for clues about the state of the magazine in their public utterances…you’re probably out of luck. My guess is, they’ll probably be trying to make it look like everything is swell, and their future’s so bright they have to wear shades….right up until the microsecond that DC Comics issues the press release that they’re shutting down MAD for good.

One Response to “MAD selling its ‘Soul?’ …at gunpoint?”

  1. I’m the person who wrote the post about the Soul of MAD cover art on the MAD Message board. And I was thinking the same things as you. I didn’t even respond to Dick DeBartolo’s reply; normally I respect his comments, but I found his response to be unsettling and a little evasive.

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