When I was a kid age 14 was a big deal for me. It was the year my sister game me my very first MAD MAGAZINE for my birthday. I had briefly seen two previous issues at my friend’s house. Her brother Robert Trueman had an issue that spoofed the Poseidon Adventure, which I had just recently seen at my first Drive In with their family. MAD was just right for me. I wasn’t good at reading books, and hadn’t yet been diagnosed with A.D.D, but magazines with pictures and cheap jokes were ideal for my 14 year old mind. Parody and Sarcasm were already tools of my personality.
I became an instant fan and owned every single issue and special issue of MAD for the next 14 years. My memory remembers the ritual of reading each issue over several days, always at the breakfast table while eating cereal. Several of the issues got milk splash drops and stuck together.
Like many teens within fandom, collecting MAD became a source of pride. I saw the imitations come and go, and only ever bought one single issue of CRACKED, because it was the cheap knockoff. Their mascot was too silly, and it was an obvious rip off of Alfred E. Newman. I didn’t want to give them any business. MAD was the original, and my favourite. Nobody could compete with the likes of Al Jaffee, Mort Drucker, Don Martin, and my favourite; Sergio Aragones. He was the guy who drew those teeny tiny gags in the margins of the magazine.
Eventually, my obsession to get every copy faded, and I quit – cold Turkey. MAD had gone from 60 cents (Cheap) to a price that wasn’t so cheap anymore, and I just stopped reading almost altogether. I kept an eye on MAD over the years, watching it’s cover price rise, and the artists change. When the original creator died, and they started selling advertising, and colourizing the magazine I didn’t really even recognize it anymore. As a fan, I later in life checked out MAD TV and caught every episode, but it really was just a bought name for marketing. MAD TV stopped any references to the magazine half way through Season One and just became the TV rip off version of Saturday Night Live. The newer Mad Magazine TV show was more magazine style. It is a neat attempt to re-live that corny immature childhood memory, and I applause it, but I don’t watch regularly.
I’m old now and my tastes have changed. The big Surprise… I now love CRACKED and their rebirth as an entertainment / educational web site. I checked the history on Wikipedia to make sure that CRACKED online has at least some basic connection to the old CRACKED Magazine, and it’s flimsy but a little more than MAD TV had connection to MAD Magazine. The truth is, there are none of the same people involved – but it does make me think of the magazine when I see the logo, and I guess that alone helped them become so popular.
So did the content. CRACKED.COM is amazing, and I read articles on it almost daily. It’s not MAD style humour at all, and in fact – although it is classified as humour, it’s actually a very educational site. The articles take facts from history and politics and science, and display them to us in a new way – with punch lines. We learn. We laugh. We share.
If somebody had told me 20 years ago when I was reading MAD magazine that CRACKED would be a superior source of educational learning for my daily breakfast reads – I’d have laughed.
By Contrast MAD and MAD.COM now suck. The is perhaps a bit unfair to say. It’s more that they still cater to the 14 year olds, and CRACKED hit the market of the people were 14 when it was popular, and are now adults. I am adult enough to say I now prefer the one I once hated.
Now I am laughing (and learning) with CRACKED.COM daily, while I eat my cereal.