The Sincerest Form of Parody: The Best 1950s Mad Inspired Satirical Comics Paperback – Apr 3 2012
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I'm old enough to have purchased many of the early issues of Mad magazine and it's fly-by-night imitators, so it was fun to see some of these again (and, in some cases, wonder why I actually bought some of duds). I think the only "copycat" mag that isn't here (there are 11 included PLUS Mad) is Humbug - another Harvey Kurtzman production.
After a two page introduction (in tiny print) we are presented with 160 "comic book size" pages of GORGEOUS color reproductions of such magazines as Eh!, Whack! and Nuts!. (How come Mad wasn't Mad!?). Then comes that "back story". What are called "Notes" are 25 pages of text giving the history of these Mad competitors. Author John Benson knows his comic history. But, again, TINY typeface. Hey, I love this book but I only wish the publisher realized that many of the audience for this volume are over 60 and can use LARGER print , not smaller. I got through it with the help of a magnifying glass.
But the book still gets FIVE stars. Where else are you gonna find this material?
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.
Any fan of humor comics will love this collection from John Benson,reproduced in all their yellowing-paged glory,a compendium of zany,off-the-wall pop-culture parody circa the mid-1950s,as well as illustrating the lengths many of these writers and artists went to in their attempts to copy MAD's formulas.Benson concludes the book with a short but informative history of the subject.
This good-looking book presents a fine overview with complete stories in excellent color. Highly recommended. For more on the subject, look for the two issues of Alter Ego magazine that featured the subject.
While still in its comic format, Mad reached out beyond its normal comic book audience and became hip (or since it was the '50s, maybe "hep" is more appropriate). It succeeded with well-written parodies and satires, and like any success, it drew a lot of imitators.
The Sincerest Form of Parody is about these imitators, such as Panic (another EC comic), Whack, Eh!, Crazy, Wild, Riot, Get Lost, Bughouse, Unsane and a few others. There are stories from many of these comics, some of which are very amusing, some of which are less so. Most of these magazines would not prosper for very long, an indication that imitations are often pale shadows of the real thing. Nonetheless, the comics featured in this book include a number of big name writers and artists, perhaps none bigger than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Based on the material alone, this book would merit only three or four stars. Some of the comics are pretty weak with little in the way of humor (though others are pretty good). But this book is more than just the comics; it is a history of this brief period in comics history when Mad-style comics flourished. There are plenty of notes in the back of the book to give background and context. If you're looking for a ton of laughs, this book might disappoint you, but if you're a fan of comic books and their history, the Sincerest Form of Parody cannot be imitated.
The art is interesting and at times delightful; particularly enjoyable is some parodies that Jack King Kirby drew. However, the imitations all remind one how brilliantly subversive Mad Magazine/Comic was underneath Harvey Kurtzman's leadership. The stories while funny are missing that certain zip, that ironic biting on tinfoil while laughing that Mad evoked. Some stories are clearly "lifts" from Mad performed in that creative hothouse that was the 1950's comic industry.
Definitely worth the money.