I would guess that everyone is familiar with MAD Magazine. If you haven’t actually read an issue, you’ve at least heard of it over the years. But did you know that that also produced MAD paperback books? Yes indeed, they did. The creators of the magazine decided, rather early on, as a matter of fact, to reprint the early humor stories and artwork and strips from the magazines into handy pocket-sized paperback books.
The first publisher was Ballantine Books, which printed the first five (5) MAD paperbacks during the nineteen fifties. Those books were, in order: The MAD Reader, MAD Strikes Back!, Inside MAD, Utterly MAD and The Brothers MAD.
Here are the covers to those first five historic publications:
But in 1959, with the publication of the sixth book; The Bedside MAD, the reprint books changed publishers to Signet Books, a division of The New American Library. Everything was pretty much the same, the books still sold for only 35 cents each, as they did under Ballantine. Since that time and over the years, the books have sold for more and more per copy, as have every other paperback book through the ages.
Just like those comic books we love, which originally sold for only 10 cents a piece, then twelve cents, fifteen cents, and up and up till today’s prices, which could bankrupt a child spending his or her allowance prices on printed material continues to skyrocket!
But back to those MAD paperbacks. Signet continued with what Ballantine started, first with The Bedside MAD and on and on.
Here’s a look at the next five MAD paperback books:
I don’t know about you, but with the exception of the eighth book, the covers on the Signet books were a lot better than what Ballantine used on the covers of their first five books. Though I would rate number five higher than number eight!
If you enjoy the sophomoric humor of the early MAD magazines, but do not want to track down and store all those issues. The paperback MAD series is a nice way to sample the highlights of the early MAD magazines and they take up a lot less room. They are not for the completest, as they do not reprint everything from each individual issue, but they are a nice collectible way to sample the early run of the magazine.
I’ve only shared the first ten paperback books, but there have been ninety-three (93) books in the original series, plus an additional thirty-eight (38) boxed sets. Then there are the books focusing on an individual artist, like; Don Martin, Dave Berg or Sergio Aragones. And even books featuring, maybe my favorite feature over the years, Spy Vs. Spy by Antonio Prohias!
Needless to say, I’m a fan and if you give them a try I’m sure you will become one, as well. There are rumors that the magazine itself will stop being published later this fall after sixty-five plus years. Hand to believe, but the fate of hand-held books and magazines continue to wane, except for those of us who still love the printed matter.
Digital copies are all well and good, but it my opinion, they just aren’t the same as a hand-held paperback book, magazine or comic book!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my post.
As always, I’ll be back again next week with another RETRO REVIEW or Fabulous Find. Till then …
be seeing you …