MAD Magazine Is Leaving Newsstands After Two-Thirds of a Century

July 4, 2019, 9:46 AM UTC
Alfred E. Neuman sign
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 20: The face of Alfred E. Neuman frames greets attendees at the DC booth during the first day of Comic-Con International at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, CA on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
Kevin Sullivan—Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

MAD Magazine, once a touchstone of American satirical humor, is leaving newsstands after a 67-year history.

MAD will after August only be available through comic stores and mail-order, former staffers and contributors revealed late Wednesday. There will still be bi-monthly issues, but they will only include vintage MAD material—the only new content will appear in end-of-year specials.

“Working at MAD was a childhood dream come true. MAD is an institution with such a rich history. It informed just about every comedian and writer I (and probably you) look up to,” tweeted Allie Goertz, MAD‘s former editor, who resigned last month—other senior editorial staff appear to have been laid off earlier this week by Warner-owned DC Entertainment, the magazine’s publisher.

MAD Magazine Cover, 1968
A MAD Magazine cover from 1968. The iconic satirical publication is ending newsstand sales. Getty Images
Getty Images

“I am profoundly sad to hear that after 67 years, MAD Magazine is ceasing publication,” tweeted“Weird” Al Yankovic, who in 2015 was MAD‘s first guest editor. “I can’t begin to describe the impact it had on me as a young kid–it’s pretty much the reason I turned out weird. Goodbye to one of the all-time greatest American institutions. #ThanksMAD.”

MAD was indeed incredibly influential. Veering between extreme silliness, anarchic disrespect and sharp insight, it satirized movies and TV shows, but also politics and other current events. Its Spy vs Spy strip, created by Cuban expat Antonio Prohías, highlighted the absurd side of the Cold War’s ideological clashes. Its fold-in back covers started as a satirical comment on the mid-1960s trend for splashy magazine fold-outs, but endured for half a century.

Wierd Al Yankovic with Mad Magazine
Weird Al Yankovic mourned the newsstand end of MAD Magazine online. He was its first guest editor in 2015. (Mark Sagliocco—Getty Images)
Mark Sagliocco—Getty Images

But the magazine ceased to be a cultural barometer some time ago. The audience for magazines is generally smaller than it once was, and a similar satirical vein is these days found far more easily online and on TV.

When President Donald Trump—a frequent target of MAD‘s barbs—recently mocked Pete Buttegieg by comparing his appearance with that of MAD‘s gap-toothed, jug-eared mascot, Alfred E. Neuman (catchphrase: “What, me worry?”) the Democratic presidential candidate initially didn’t know what Trump was talking about.

“I’ll be honest. I had to Google that,” Buttegieg told Politico. “I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It’s kind of funny, I guess.”

MAD underwent a dramatic shift at the end of 2017, when DC relocated its offices from Manhattan to Burbank, California. None of the magazine’s veteran staff came along, and MAD‘s tone changed—for example, it carried a relatively somber spread about school shootings.

DC declined to comment on the reasons behind MAD‘s effective end.

This article was updated to note DC’s refusal to comment.