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The LAST issue of MAD? #506

No, no, I’m not breaking any “news” here. That’s only my personal educated guess…that the Final Issue of MAD will be #506. And since I just put down an actual bet on it (albeit a friendly penny-ante bet), I figured I had to put it out there for all the world to see whether I’m a psychic or a bonehead! Or both.

How did I arrive at #506 (@Jan. 2011 cover date) as the final issue of MAD? Well, besides the Ouija board and Tarot cards…

First, and most obvious, is what’s already happened to MAD just since the beginning of this year: the slashing of MAD staff; reducing MAD to quarterly publication and totally eliminating MAD Kids and MAD Classics. I’ve heard rumors (unconfirmed, but from 2 different sources) that DC Comics execs had already officially decided to kill off MAD even before announcing “The Big Shrinkage” – but to keep it limping along until after one or more big employment contracts with MAD Staff ends within the next year or so (which they’d have to pay anyway). Plus, the whole going-quarterly charade lets DC look like the good guy supposedly giving MAD “another chance.”

Regardless of whether those rumors are true, let’s look at what else is happening with MAD that doesn’t exactly speak of a magazine that has the confidence, commitment, and resources of its publisher:

–Even the infrequent quarterly issues they’re now putting out are really only “HALF-issues,” in terms of new, original content. And they’re being printed on the cheapest see-through gift-wrapping paper stock available. (Grab a MAD issue from a couple years ago and see how much heavier it is than the current ones.)

–the recent publication of a MAD book (“Bo, Confidential“), written by MAD Editors, illustrated by MAD Artist Tom Richmond — which doesn’t have the MAD logo on the front cover! Sure, there’s a small MAD logo on the book’s spine — but, c’mon, why wouldn’t you put a big one on the front, like (ahem) every other MAD book ever published? Someone along the line must’ve decided it would sell better without one. Not a good sign.

-Whatever the hell is going on with mail subscriptions starting with the latest issue, #501! Right now, the most popular topics on their own madmag.com message boards are “Haven’t gotten my issue yet” and “What’s the deal with putting mailing labels directly on the cover?!” No idea how such a dramatic deterioration in service quality even happens that fast — did DC just switch MAD over to the We Give LESS of a Shit than anyone else, Inc. subscription fulfillment company?!!

Hey, waitaminute — re-reading the above, I think I’ve just figured out the actual end-game strategy that DC Comics has in mind for MAD: Do everything possible to get ALL of the remaining 170,000 MAD-readers totally pissed off at it, so that, when the very last ‘TENTH-of-an-issue printed on Chinese crepe paper’ creaks off the presses late next year…there’ll be literally nobody left to complain! Brilliant!