BOOK REVIEW! GOOD 'N' MAD by the usual gang of idiots (Signet, 1969)
All jesting aside, that original paperback eventually became neatly bisected due to over-reading (though I never had the heart to toss it out and it still remains in my paperback collection snuggled against other single-digit comic strip reads that haven't been gazed at in eons) so Brad's gift sure came in handy. And considering that this particular paperback heralds a whole lotta things of importance (since it contains stories from the last days of '63, a very crucial time in gulcheral history as well as some of Wally Wood's final contributions) I couldn't have been happer even if Brad had sent a bound edition of ancient TAB DIGESTs, for the sagas reprinted in this 'un sure capture that great era in pre-hippoid Ameriga that continues to hold up (via reruns, auto shows, non-renovated shopping plazas...) long after the bell bottoms and headbands have been tossed into the trashcan hopefully ne'er to be retrieved!
Some pretty hotcha stuff here, like four Don Martin comics, two Sergio Aragones, and of course a couple of Spy Vs. Spys which always get my mind piqued. The Walter "Crankcase" hosted tour of a Chinese restaurant was also good for a laugh esp. if you still go for that Three Stooges short where Moe and Shemp think they're eating a dog and cat freshly chopped up by Larry, something that my father used to tease me about incessantly when I'd order takeouts complete with the meows and barking. Heck, even the "Government Greeting Cards" piece was boss, and I HATE it when MAD gets into their more literate poetry/greeting card spoofs which had made up a bulk of their lampooning throughout the sixties and seventies!
But it's done so swift here to the point where I didn't even skip over "The MAD Hospital Primer" like I would have only a few short years after first latching hands upon this collection. Even that ol' New York Liberal schmooze Dave Berg ain't as annoying as he would get as soon as the hippoids themselves put his own credo to test. At least his observations regarding automobiles and early-sixties college students doesn't annoy like his later deep insights into rebellion and the generation gap which only made him look like an even bigger fuddy duddy than he originally was!
Naturally it's the comic strip send ups, something which originally drew me to MAD inna first place, that makes GOOD 'N' MAD the must-have book that's been rotting away in my library for a good forty-plus. "Future Educational Comic Pamphlets" features the likes of Dick Tracy, Joe Palooka, Popeye and Mary Worth in wild takeoffs of those freebee comic books that various special interest groups circulate in order to teach us about everything from National Parks to rectal probes. This 'un does hold a special place in the MAD canon if only because this was Wood's last comic spoof in the pages of that hallowed read...after his departure the job of comic strip depictions was handed over to Bob Clarke, a man who could not accurately copy the styles of the originals the way both Wood and Bill Elder did with relative ease. This particular story also has a special meaning in my own life due to the mention of a comic pamphlet in the introductory schpiel that (believe it or not) just happened to be published by none other'n Planned Parenthood! ESCAPE FROM FEAR was the title ("Joan and Ken Harper's marriage was on the rocks, because they loved each other!"), and when I got this book I didn't know what Planned Parenthood was so innocently enough I went and asked the folks! Well, you shoulda seen the look on their faces especially when I told 'em where I found out about them (and hearing the rather watered down explanation of that institution that certainly didn't clear anything up on my part!), but the strangest thing was they didn't forbid me from reading MAD and certainly tolerated me buying up the entire paperback range as well as a whole buncha issues when the mood struck me! And to this day, I still don't understand why (esp. when a relative had his copy with the SUMMER OF '42 spoof confiscated with a stern warning never to even go near an issue of MAD as long as he lived!) considering how my parents used to be overly protective of my reading material to the point where I was once sternly lectured when found reading a collection of comparatively mild generation gap cartoons at a local paperback rack!
Gee, just goes to show you how funny things could get before all of this sexual revolution crap was being shoved in all of our faces! At least we can re-live those pre-sickoid days with a copy of GOOD 'N' MAD, coming to an overpriced "buy it now" ebay auction near you!