Monday, September 2, 2013
It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad Paperback!
The Mad Reader is one of those truly important books. EC Comics made a big splash in the heyday of comics, both critically and financially. So much so, that the furor around them eventually caused them to disappear from the comic racks. But MAD survived, and in fact thrived for decades after becoming a cultural touchstone for millions of kids trying to find a way to interpret adult society. Soon after its sales success in the early 50's, Ballantine Books stepped forward to bring the distinctive humor brand to a broader audience in the first paperback comic book reprint, The Mad Reader. The Mad Reader, first published in 1954 went through many editions and spawned many subsequent collections.
A little over a decade ago IBooks under the direction of the late Byron Preiss returned these vintage classics to the market in handsome and faithful reproductions. As you can see, the leering mug of Alfred P. Neuman guarantees MAD-level quality. In point of fact, this was the first time that Alfred's famous puss ever graced a MAD publication, but as we all know it be far from the last.
IBooks went on quickly to publish other of the 50's MAD paperbacks. Some years ago, I found numbers two through five for a neat discount, but despaired at ever discovering the first volume. A few days ago I stumbled across it. There are later volumes in this esteemed series, but these five from Ballantine Books (MAD moved to Signet with the sixth volume) are the core upon which the long MAD paperback tradition lives. It's exceedingly neat to have these clever reproductions in my sweaty mitts at long last.