Somewhere deep inside this building resides a national treasure that even Nicolas Cage hasn’t tapped.
It’s the MAD Magazine headquarters.
MAD Magazine. Do I really need to explain this? Alfred E. Neumann, Spy vs. Spy, Al Jaffee backpage fold-ins, Sergio Aragones comics… Do I need to diagram how influential the comic magazine’s parody wit has been to The Hundreds’ history of graphics? They are the kings, the progenitors of pop culture commentary through parody, and that genre of graphic work is the foundation for streetwear t-shirts.
MAD Magazine is still alive, still strong, at 6 fresh issues a year. Much has changed over the decades, obviously the internet is a serious contender. But they are still committed to the best, the legacy of longstanding artists, and still the sharp humor. Here in the hallway are some classic MAD pieces:
So back in the day, MAD wanted to make a series of movies in the vein of National Lampoon flicks. The first one, Up the Academy, was so bad however, that they removed the name from the movie. Still, there are MAD references throughout the film like this Alfred statue which now stands tall in the MAD offices. “MAD presents…” has also been manipulated to say “MAD resents…”
We actually brought along my buddy Jessica whose last name happens to be Prohias. As in granddaughter of Antonio Prohias, creator of Spy vs. Spy, one of MAD Magazine’s most notable comic properties. Of course, most of the MAD staff, artists, and writers are still the old school crew, and were excited to meet the descendent of their old friend. Senior Editor Joe Raiola for example:
Art Director Sam Viviano in his office, displaying original MAD art by Hermann Mejia.
Associate Editor Dave Croatto is handing me some blank Spy vs. Spy toys… you’ll see what comes of these soon.
My man Ryan Flanders, Assistant Art Director:
That’s Ryan with Production Artist Doug Thomson.
And Jessica with big boss man, Editor John Ficarra. “Always take the photo with the pretty girl.”
A few mementos for Jessica and us:
And some original pieces used in recent issues are tucked away in the drawers here. Really incredible stuff, art masterpieces,.. so under-appreciated.
Al Jaffee still does the backpage fold-ins at the age of 90, and after all these decades, the staff says they’re getting better. Here’s the painting for the recent one:
Richard Williams puts in work:
The one and only Sergio Aragones:
and a beauty by Jack Davis. Ryan spent 10 minutes explaining the process by which this drawing was done, the chemicals used to gain the effects, the intense amounts of cross-hatching, the layers of work, all for a single page of art in a MAD magazine issue. Even better, he wasn’t satisfied with the final work so he ditched it and did another one.
Once in a while I’ll admit it, this experience was a big one for me.