Writer’s Workshop: There’s Something Funny Going On Here…

So the prompt is “write a blog post inspired by the word: cracked,” and all I can think of is Cracked Magazine.

Sylvester P. Smythe, Cracked‘s mascot, as drawn by John Severin (source: Wikia)

They’re out of business now, although the website Cracked.com is still going, albeit with a much more adult tone. It got its start back in 1958, after seeing what success Mad Magazine had. It was obviously a rip-off of Mad, but for some reason managed to hang around until 2007, so it lasted just short of fifty years.

I rarely read the magazine. I had Mad, and that got me through my high school years. I’d pick up a Cracked, usually while I was in the store buying Mad, flip through it, and always came to the conclusion that it would be a waste of money to buy it. Of course, a lot of artists and writers from Mad ended up at Cracked, most notably Don Martin, for years “MAD’s Maddest artist,” who had a falling out with the publisher of Mad and probably did it as a public way of extending both middle fingers at his former employer.

This is the kind of thing that happens all the time, not just in the entertainment business, but in business in general: someone comes up with an original idea, and when it turns out to be a smash everyone else tries to do the same thing. Sometimes what the competitor’s version turns out better than the original, but usually not. That happens a lot with movies, one of the many reasons Mary and I don’t go to them anymore.

15 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: There’s Something Funny Going On Here…

  1. I never read Mad magazine but I did watch Mad TV when it was on. It was pretty funny. When I saw your little picture I immediately thought of “plumbers crack” which I happened to see when we were eating out the other day. Not a pretty site before a meal LOL Happy Thursday!

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    1. That’s the good thing about overalls: no plumber’s crack.

      MAD TV really had very little to do with the magazine, although in their early days they’d play a “Spy vs. Spy” cartoon, and maybe one by Don Martin. As it progressed it became more like “Saturday Night Live” because hey, that’s what the kids wanted. Funny show nonetheless.

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  2. I’m like you, I usually flipped through Cracked at the supermarket and then bought MAD. I think I bought one issue in my life, it was spoofing the A-Team. (Yes, I continued reading waaaaay after high school.) I subscribe to the Cracked Youtube channel but don’t watch too many of the videos. I haven’t read MAD in years but would wager it is probably still the funniest magazine around.

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  3. As an artist, I most admire the caricatures of famous people and shows that found their way into both MAD and Cracked. I think the one of one of those I bought (can’t remember which it was) was because it had a parody of Star Trek: the Next Generation in it in the late 80’s

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    1. MAD had some amazing artists in the 70’s. Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, and Dave Berg were the most realistic, while Paul Coker and Al Jaffee were more cartoonists. Of course, there were Antonio Prohias (Spy vs Spy), and Sergio Aragones (the little cartoons in the margins), and Don Martin was in a class by himself. Back in the ’50’s they had Will Elder, who was tremendous. If you find any really old “MAD”s from then, he’s worth checking out.

      Couldn’t tell you where you found the Star Trek parody, but it sounds like MAD. I’m not sure Cracked had the same caliber of artists, though Jack Davis did some work for them.

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  4. I never bought a MAD magazine. I would flip through it at a new stand and put it back on the shelf. I’ve never heard of Cracked. Learn something new every day.

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  5. I don’t think I ever bought either of these magazine, BUT I love that one of the artists high tailed it over to the competitor. That’s awesome.

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    1. Especially considering it was Don Martin, who was the star of MAD. It’s like newscasters at local TV stations, who move around all the time. One day, they’re the weekend weatherman at one station, the next day they’re the chief meteorologist at another.

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  6. I remember “Cracked”! Yes, an obvious ripoff of “Mad”, but still entertaining. I read both in my formative years, loved the artwork. But I had no idea Cracked survived until 2007!?

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    1. Unless something really grabs me about a magazine, I generally don’t buy it. MAD always had something worth reading, even if it was just “Spy vs Spy” and the Don Martin cartoons.

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