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The Sincerest Form of Parody:
The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics



The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics
Author: various artists, edited by John Benson

Format: Softcover
Pages: 192
Dimensions: 7.25" x 10.25"

Colors: full color

Year: 2012
Publisher: Fantagraphics
ISBN-13: 978-1-60699-511-2

Additional Details: Introduction by Jay Lynch

Price: $24.99


"What, me imitated?"

When MAD became a surprise hit as a comic book in 1953 (after the early issues lost money!) other comics publishers were quick to jump onto the bandwagon, eventually bringing out a dozen imitations with titles like FLIP,WHACK, NUTS, CRAZY, WILD, RIOT, EH, UNSANE, BUGHOUSE, and GET LOST. The Sincerest Form of Parodycollects the best and the funniest material from these comics, including parodies of movies (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From Here To Eternity), TV shows (What's My Line, The Late Show), comic strips (Little Orphan Annie, Rex Morgan), novels (I, the Jury), plays (Come Back, Little Sheba), advertisements (Rheingold Beer, Charles Atlas), classic literature ("The Lady or the Tiger"), and history (Pancho Villa). Some didn't even try for parody, but instead published odd, goofy, off-the-wall stories.

These earnest copiers of MAD realized that Will Elder's cluttered "chicken fat" art was a good part of MAD's success, and these pages are densely packed with all sorts of outlandish and bizarre gags that make for hours of amusing reading. The "parody comics" are uniquely "'50s," catching the popular culture zeitgeist through a dual lens: not only reflecting fifties culture through parody but also being themselves typical examples of that culture (in a way that Harvey Kurtzman's MAD was not).

This unprecedented volume collects over 30 of the best of these crazy, undisciplined stories, all reprinted from the original comics in full color. Editor John Benson (who wrote the annotations for the first complete MAD reprints, and interviewed MAD editor Harvey Kurtzman in depth several times over the years) also provides expert, profusely illustrated commentary and background, including comparisons of how different companies parodied the same subject.

Artists represented include Jack Davis, Will Elder, Norman Maurer, Carl Hubbell, William Overgard, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers, Bill Everett, Al Hartley, Ross Andru & Mike Esposito, Hy Fleischman, Jay Disbrow, Howard Nostrand, and Bob Powell.

Casual comics readers are probably familiar with the later satirical magazines that continued to be published in the '60s and '70s, such as Cracked and Sick, but the comics collected in this volume were imitations of the MAD comic book, not the magazine, and virtually unknown among all but the most die-hard collectors. For the first time, Fantagraphics is collecting the best of these comics in a single, outrageously funny volume.

Download and read a 14-page PDF excerpt (6.1 MB) which includes the Table of Contents.

Links to Reviews and Features

The Sincerest Form of Parody - Comics Worth Reading

"The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s MAD-Inspired Satirical Comics is a wonderful book collecting the best stories of the beginnings of a favorite comic book genre - and I can't emphasize this enough - it's put together by people who know what they're doing. Plus, it's designed to fit on your bookshelf right next to your MAD Archives volumes. I can't believe that you haven't already picked this up! Are you unsane?!?" - K.C. Carlson, Comics Worth Reading

ComicMix - REVIEW: The Sincerest Form Of Parody

Over 150 pages of reprints, a brilliant back-of-the-book by Benson running 26 pages, and an introduction by my old buddy, cartoonist/historian Jay Lynch..., this book is a welcome addition to any comics library.... [I]f nothing else, The Sincerest Form of Parody saves you a lot of time separating the wheat from the chaff. But in and of itself, it is a very worthy book - entertaining on his own, and critical from a historical point of view. You should check this one out..." - Mike Gold, ComicMix

The Quivering Pen: Front Porch Books: February 2012 edition

And now, Fantagraphics has packaged some of the best movie parodies in this ripely-colored book [The Sincerest Form of Parody]. But these aren't Mad comics. They're the imitators which popped up on newsstands in the 1950s -- comic books like Whack, Nuts!, Crazy, Bughouse and Unsane.... Most of the comics in the pages of this book are understandably dated for today's web-weaned generation who may have never heard of I, Jury ('My Gun Is the Jury by Melvie Splane'), What's My Line? ('What's My Crime?'), or Come Back, Little Sheba ('Come Back Bathsheba'), but that doesn't drain these parodies of their punch." - David Abrams, The Quivering Pen

"The Sincerest Form of Parody shines some light on a long-overlooked and largely forgotten bit of comic book history. There's hardly a success in the entertainment industry these days that quickly doesn't quickly spawn imitators, and times were no different when the original Mad comic caught fire in 1953 after a few issues. ...[E]ven if Mad's barrage of competition was short-lived, Parody reveals that they didn't have the market cornered on satirical inspiration." - Under the Radar


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