Issue 403

EC Publications, an AOL Time Warner company

Just three issues past the historic 400 mark and Mad magazine is dead. Its pretty, full-color, slick-paged corpse still may sit propped up on newsstands, but the signs of decay are apparent. Maggots, in the form of corporate advertising, devour the cadaver before our eyes. Mad founder Bill Gaines pulled all advertising from Mad in the ’50s to preserve the magazine’s integrity; he even refused to let his artists and writers receive gifts from any targets they’d lampooned. That integrity allowed Mad to be one of the few places where you could find untainted social critique and parody. Mad’s influence on our culture has been profound, teaching generations of consumers to laugh at Madison Avenue and encouraging us to hold intelligence in higher regard than trendiness. The magazine will now help to sell trends. I’d sooner see Mad go under then see it whored out. A Mad with ads is no Mad of mine.