What DC Lowering The Axe On Mad Magazine Means

The news hit this week that Mad Magazine will cease publishing new content outside of annuals. It will also remove its circulation form newsstands, making it only available through comic shops and existing subscriptions. Instantly, when the news broke, celebrities, artists and fans started expressing their remorse online. There are no expressed plans for DC Comics to cancel the publication. What does this mean?

Well, when a title goes into reprints-only mode, it signals the beginning of the end. Over its span of nearly seventy years, Mad Magazine became a home for cutting edge satire and humor. Its success spawned similar publications like Cracked and Crazy. Coincidentally, Marvel Comics has announced that in September it will bring back Crazy in anew number 1 issue. However, DC Comics came to own Mad Magazine through a series of corporate purchases in the 1960s, but was more or less left alone editorially until after Bill Gaines’ death in 1992. In 2001, the magazine started accepting paid advertising. Shortly thereafter, it’s publishing schedule was reduced by Warner Bros. to quarterly before settling to a bimonthly magazine. When DC Comics moved the magazine’s offices to Burbank, California and it seemed that the writing was beginning to be visible on the wall. 

With no new satire being published in the magazine, DC Comics publishing portfolio becomes very super-hero centered. With the consolidation of its imprints, its looking like DC is exerting a very firm hand at the highest levels. This could be a sign of struggles within the company, especially as the industry hasn’t grown as fast as the popularity of super-hero films and television. If one of “Big Two” were to fall, despite ownership by a major media company, the industry could collapse entirely. Keep an eye out, for the market could be in serious trouble.

Supporters of the magazine urge fans to buy the magazine, even with the reprints. It’s uncertain if this would indeed save the magazine or return it to its practice of original content. It also sees the market narrow even more for people that want something else in their comics. Diversity in comics should definitely mean the creators that produce them are of varied backgrounds. It should mean that characters in comics should not be a homogeneous sea of straight white men. However, it should also mean that there should be comics available for everyone in every genre, including satire and humor.