Alfred E. Neuman still looks like the gap-toothed grinning idiot whos too amused by lifes pranks to be anxious – the same freckled and reckless boy mascot who perpetually puts the sophomore in sophomoric.
But as MAD magazine turns a hard-to-fathom 60 years old, you peer a little closer to see whether gravity, if not gravitas, is tugging at that cartoon smirk. You look for even a trace of irony deficiency, expecting his ageless catchphrase one day to read:
What? Me Worry!
As MAD celebrates its 60th anniversary, the publications main worry – albeit one treated with trademark nonchalance on the surface – is how to stay at the forefront of the very marketplace it helped pioneer more than half a century ago.
But now that circulation averages about 200,000 – the same level as not-quite-household-name magazines such as Leadership Excellence and Where to Retire – how do you avoid the perception that youve become a sexagenarian whose relevance has passed?
One way is to bring older readers back into the fold – if not the fold-in – by showing them that Alfred E. Neuman is as stupidly brilliant as ever, and that the magazine is still in genius hands.
And while youre at it, perhaps you can lay a little history on younger fans who know MAD only through its quick-paced, mash-up-happy Cartoon Network show that launched in 2010.
And so there is Totally MAD: 60 Years of Humor, Satire, Stupidity and Stupidity, which – after a foreword co-written by Stephen Colbert – unfurls a collection of first-rate contributions that cover many of MADs most beloved features.
Totally MAD is for older readers, says veteran MAD editor John Ficarra. This is clearly a nostalgia trip and hopefully, theyll be transported back to their bedrooms or their cousins basement. ... I want to bring older readers back to the magazine, and I want to bring MAD to a new generation of readers.