MAD Magazine -- how young is too young?

My girlfriend’s son will turn 10 later this month, and I think it would be a great time to introduce him to the joyful chaos of MAD Magazine. Of course, I know a lot of the humor will go over his head, but I think a kid his age will get most of the more obvious jokes – enough that he’ll enjoy it.

My main fear is that, if he’s too young to “get” it now, he’ll be turned off to MAD later on, when he would get it. What say you: is 10 years old too soon?

Unless MAD has changed dramatically since I was 10… fuck no, 10 isn’t too young.

I read MAD from the age of 6 to 17 when i kind of lost contact. (1966-1977)

No, 10’s not too young. Hardly anyone I knew read it past 13 or 14, so it seems meant for tweens and young teens.

I started reading in when I was 6 or 7. 10’s almost too late!

Another early adopter here. I was reading my cousin’s Mad magazines practically as soon as I could read.

MAD is a pale shadow of what it was, and the language and humor have gotten quite rough and bitter. I don’t know that I’d want a preteen reading it… more because of the bitter, exclusive tor than for anything else.

Thanks for the input, everyone! Sounds like I can give him a copy without much worry. The latest issue has spoofs involving Dennis Rodman & Kim Jong Un, among other things, and I thought, “Man, if most of the stuff is that topical, it’ll be lost on him”. But it sounds like I have little to fear.

It will always have a special place in my childhood memories.

The issue shown in that article was one of my early memories of encountering a magazine in English in El Salvador in the 70’s. And it was also close to what others talk about the age being 6-10 when I landed my eyes on it.

A friend of my older brother used to pass him those and they eventually came to me.

It was only later that I found about the past history of MAD magazine, but its subversive nature was even noticed by me during the dark days of the civil war era of the old country. Anyone making parodies like those ones in MAD in the local media against the military governments of the old country would had been lucky not to be shot and dropped in a ditch.

Although I can fall back to the excuse that English is my second language as the reason why my grammar sucks, I can tell you that Werham could had been onto something when he claimed that words such as “arghh”, “blam”, “thunk”, and “kapow” were producing a generation of illiterates.

I mean, look at the damage classic onomatopoeia like “SPWATH” (scrambled eggs to eyes) “DOONT” (bottle to head) “POIT”* (Female breast popping out a tight corset) did!!!

  • Interesting that on a web comic I like, called Wapsi Square, the main female character with a big bosom has supernatural powers like teleportation, she does a “POIT” when disappearing and appearing.

Yeah, you don’t want to wait till the centerfold seems more exciting than the fold-in. Of course, sometimes you get the best of both worlds, as when Al Jaffee draws Jamie Lynn Spears.

Speaking of MAD magazine, check out Bill Gaines’s appearance on “To Tell the Truth”, and the 60 Minutes piece from circa 1990, both on youtube (still, I hope).

I was certainly reading it by that age, but I glanced at one a year or so ago and was amazed at the difference. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone. It’s changed.

When I was a kid, MAD had a slightly different impact on me. I had been reading Archie comics for a little while, and then my Dad brought home a MAD paperback with the “Starchie” story, in which the character appears as a juvenile delinquent who assaults “Mr. Weathernot,” threatens “Biddy,” and with his slimy sidekick “Bottleneck” takes “Wedgie” (whom they’ve stripped naked) for a “last ride,” and pushes him out of a moving car. Starchie winds up as a middle-aged balding man in prison. When I got to that point in the story, I cried bitterly. My Dad told me I should behave myself ‘or I’d wind up like Starchie Standrews.’ I never forgot that, but the Archie comics never lost their appeal for me.

Modern MAD Magazines do seem more adult & darker, then again, the 1970s ones would deal with VietNam, Civil Rights, & satires of more Adult movies. I might be more inclined to look for whatever MAD anthologies are in print.

Funny thing is, in the last few years of CRACKED Magazine, a lot of veteran MAD writers & artists had jumped ship over to CRACKED. Anyone know the story behind that?

Concur. Those who are recommending the current magazine seem to be doing so based on MAD of prior generations. Mistake. It’s not just that their humor adapted (e.g. madvertising to beatniks to hippies to Viet Nam to disco) but it’s taken a turn for the bitter, vicious, exclusionary and rough. The whole zeitgeist of MAD is that it was inclusionary humor - you were on the inside with them, laughing at the asinine world. Now it’s more NatLamp exclusionary - they’re laughing at you because you’re not one of the cool kids.

Almost certainly because of MAD’s all-rights policy. They only bought work with all rights, meaning the writers and artists never received further payment of any kind no matter what was done with the material. It drove Don Martin away, and the lesser lights followed one by one.

My father and oldest brother introduced me to MAD in the mid-seventies. I was probably 6 or 7.

Sometime when I was in elementary school in the mid-1960s, my father found one of his old Mad magazines from the early to mid-1950s, when he himself would have been early to mid-20s. Pre-Alfred E. Neuman. I ended up buying them regularly then, but in the 1970s it seemed to be getting stale, and I don’t think I’ve looked at one since. But I remember how different that one from the 1950s looked from what was being published in just the following decade.