MAD Magazine Is Basically Dead

MAD lampoons The Force Awakens on the cover of issue 532.
MAD lampoons The Force Awakens on the cover of issue 532.
Image: Mark Fredrickson (DC Entertainment )

Rumors began swirling earlier this week that legendary satirical comics publication MAD Magazine was dead. Turns out, that’s not quite the case... but it might as well be.


Reports from Jedadiah Leland yesterday alleged that MAD would be shutting down entirely in the near future, with original content in the magazine ceasing to exist after the next few issues ahead of a planned total shutdown of the publication, which has been on shelves since 1952. But representatives for DC Entertainment—who took over publishing the periodical wholesale in the early ‘90s, having been a sister company with its original publisher, EC Comics, since the ‘60s—speaking to CNET have now confirmed that at least the “untimely death” part of that report is not going to be the case... for now. The rest of Leland’s report, however, basically is.

After the magazine’s issue 9 is released in August (MAD has ran consecutively since the ‘50s, but reset its numbering in June 2018 to coincide with a change in editorial leadership brought about by relocation from its long time Manhattan home to DC’s then-new offices in Burbank, California), MAD will be pulled from its traditional home on newsstands across the U.S. and be exclusively sold through subscription and in the direct market—a.k.a. speciality and comic book stores, like the vast majority of DC’s comics output is already. The comics’ industry’s widescale retreat from the accessible market of the newsstand over the last few decades is a well-worn one at this point; there are only a few holdouts among the more mainstream comics publishers that still sell comics there, and both DC and Marvel have both made attempts in recent years to tap back into that market after decades of almost exclusively catering to the direct market.

But it’s not just a move to the direct market that will be a shakeup for MAD. Starting with issue 10, original content in the magazine will cease: only reprints of articles and comics from across the publication’s 67-year history will be found in ‘new’ issues, which will continue to have new art commissioned for covers. Special issues of MAD, like the traditional end-of-year issue—which will actually feature some original content, according to a further report from The Hollywood Reporter—and other special editions, will also continue. So while some form of MAD will continue to exist for now, it is not exactly “alive”, so to speak.

The move comes amidst a series of other wide-reaching publishing shakeups at DC Comics in general, including the shocking death of its long running mature readers imprint Vertigo as part of re-defining of age-labeled comics content at the publisher. What’s the end of another era to add to the pile? We’ll bring you more on the big changes at DC Entertainment as and when we learn them.

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Well, this is disappointing. I used to love reading MAD when I was a kid. And I think that’s the problem — “when I was a kid” was in the early 2000s and these days, print media is kind of, well, not in a good position. I still remember when The Weekly World News stopped their physical issues and went completely online and they probably had less overhead than MAD does.

But it’s still sad, because MAD could do some biting satire when it wanted — see the Ghastlygun Tinies, which was nominated for an Eisner and pulls no fucking punches.

Honestly, just doing reprints of old material is silly, because who is going to buy that? Instead, they should try do all-digital issues that are smaller, but less expensive.