The reported death of Mad Magazine is sad — but not exactly surprising.
One of the prevalent stories in my social media feed today has been around the reported death of Mad Magazine.
Depending on which reports you read, it’s either going to go into permanent reprints (which doesn’t feel to me like a growth strategy), or go down the reprint path only as long as it’s obliged to in order to meet subscription requirements, at which point Alfred E Neumann will be permanently retired.
Like most people my age, I grew up intermittently reading Mad Magazine, mostly admiring the fine work of the one and only Sergio Aragones, and the simple joy of Spy vs Spy.
So news of its passing made me sad… and then I realised that I’m part of the problem.
I can’t recall the last time I bought an issue. I was probably a pre-teen the last time I did, and that was a long time ago.
Humour is particularly challenging to “sell” in the Internet age, where funny memes have insanely low costs of production and equally short shelf lives. Mad Magazine’s best prospect, really, would have been selling itself to folks my age who still buy physical reading material and have fond nostalgic associations with a world of wacky fold-ins and the comedy that starts with “The Lighter Side Of…”
Ultimately, it didn’t do so. I can’t honestly say that I’d rush out to buy a copy even now.
It’s a simple reality for any form of content production; if you can’t get somebody to buy it, and nobody will fund it some other way, it withers on the vine.