Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Mad" Paperbacks

There was a time in the 1970s and 1980s where pocket-sized paperbacks were all the rage. There were cartoon collections of "Peanuts", "Dennis the Menace", "Hi and Lois", "B.C.", "Crock", "Broom Hilda", "The Wizard of Id", "Beetle Bailey", "The Family Circus" and many others.

Among those were multiple collections of new and used material from "Mad". At the time, I didn't pick up every book, because I figured that they'd be available forever. How wrong I was!

By the 1990s, the pocket-sized humor cartoon paperback faded from view. In 1993, the final "Mad" paperback "Bristling Mad" rolled off the presses and the rest of the line soon disappeared from view.

I decided to start buying them at that time, and of course, since the final books had lower print runs, they are consequently harder to find and sometimes pricier.

Eventually, I will get them all, even with the alternate Signet covers. Currently, I have 51 more to go. Of those, 12 of them aren't truly "Mad" paperbacks, but rather Al Jaffee paperbacks that he issued under his own name roughly around the same time as his "Mad" paperbacks.

For the more casual collector, I would definitely recommend the earlier Don Martin paperbacks, the earlier "Spy vs. Spy" paperbacks, most of the Al Jaffee and all of the Sergio Aragones paperbacks. The magazine reprint books are kind of a waste of time nowadays since every issue of "Mad" is available in DVD-Rom format.

The rest are a grab bag, but some like "Clods' Letters to Mad" and "The Mad Cradle to Grave Primer" are just classics in their own right, with the ones by Dick DeBartolo tending to be the better non-artist based books.

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