Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Reader's Diary #795- Mad Magazine presents Harry Potter

Yesterday I blogged about a graphic novel adaptation of the Hobbit. Today I'm blogging about a MAD Magazine Harry Potter special edition. It's only January but I'm pretty sure I've sealed the deal on the 2012 Geekiest Northern Blogger Award.

I used to say I wasn't really into comics as a kid. Then, after getting into alternative graphic novels as an adult, I began to read more and more cartoonists mentioning MAD Magazine as an influence. Hey, I thought, I had stacks of MAD Magazines as a kid! So I wasn't all that into superheroes, I was still a comic geek. What a relief.

The last MAD Magazine I ever read was about 13 or 14 years ago. My girlfriend, who'd found out I was into MAD as a child, bought me one as I was recovering from wisdom teeth surgery and a nasty case of dry socket. The MAD Magazine helped and I ended up marrying said girlfriend.

Flash forward to 2011. I've just finished reading the last Harry Potter book to our first born child, and we're both going through Hogwart's withdrawal. Then, as I'm passing the magazine stand at the local Co-op, who should I see but Alfred E. Newman, all decked out as Harry Potter himself. MAD Magazine spoofs all 8 Harry Potter movies.

It was a little more raunchier than I'd remembered-- either times have changed or a lot went over my head as a child--but for the most part it was the same old MAD: a lot of put-downy puns (Alpo Dumbledork), a lot of self-aware jokes ("That's okay. In every movie, this is where the whole school turns against me for no reason"), and plenty outside pop-culture and political references thrown in for good measure (although a joke about a "shambling undead creature on the loose in the streets of London" referring to Amy Winehouse instead of the death eater behind her was more unsettling than funny-- though in their defense, that particular spoof was written before her death). Plus it had a few old MAD standbys like Fold-ins and a "MAD look at" and other features all related to the whole Potter franchise.

I was also quite enlightened about the role of a good illustrator. I was nearly finished, I was enjoying some spoofs way more than the others, when I realized that all 8 were written by the exact same author, Desmond Devlin. Not that Devlin couldn't have been off his game for some of the movies (heck, the real movies also fluctuated in quality), but when I went back to see why, the problem with those I was less than crazy about was mostly with the illustrations. My favourite illustrator of all those who participated was Mort Drucker, who was drawing for MAD even when I was a kid. That was followed by the art of Tom Richmond, whose work closely resembles Drucker's. But my least favourite by far were those drawn by Herman Mejia. To be fair, none of these artists could get Hermione right, but Mejia couldn't even capture Harry. And when the titular star of the whole series is off, it's too much of a distraction.

Still, it was a welcome walk down memory lane. My daughter, however, will have to wait a while yet before I let her read it. How old was I when I had my first MAD Magazine? I hope she's older than that-- to save her from eternal geekdom if nothing else.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I guess that makes me a comic geek as well! My brother and I used to fight over who got to do the fold-up at the back.

I may just need to seek out this MAD magazine special edition, for old time's sake.

david elzey said...

so much to say, so much to agree with...

i grew up with the classic 70s MAD movie parodies, and the drucker art set the standard for me. like you i drifted away as i slipped into adulthood and came back around when i had girls old enough to (i thought) appreciate the humor. and you're not mistaken, the magazine is raunchier today, but it is still and accurate reflection of the world it satirizes; the world, or american culture at least, has gotten raunchier in the last 30+ years.

funny thing though, at the same time i was showing my girls MAD magazine, which they found mildly amusing, i also showed them the MAD paperback collections i grew up with and they LOVED those. there are three treasured comics collections in our house that the girls go back to again and again: the complete CALVIN & HOBBES, the complete FAR SIDE, and the complete DON MARTIN.

all to say that it would be nice to think that MAD was carrying on some of its finer traditions to upcoming generations, but i don't think it's going to show up in interviews as being as influential to kids as it used to be.

John Mutford said...

Barbara: This one comes with 2 Harry Potter themed fold-ins!

David: Good point about the magazine keeping up with the times. I mean, it always, intentionally, somewhat inappropriate (which, let's face it, was half the appeal as kids). But what was slightly inappropriate then has changed dramatically. It's more noticeable when I watch 80s movies with my kids. It seems that we've since moved to being far more prudish about language (there was swearing in every 80s kids movie) and far more open with other stuff.

Perogyo said...

I know I said I was not a comic fan either, but I loved Mad and Cracked. This looks good, I'll see if I can order it here.