Thursday, January 26, 2012


Really, it does seem strange that I would even possess such a book as this because for the life of me the one thing that I used to avoid like the enema was CRACKED magazine. Wait, I will take that back, since I actually bought one of those CRACKED specials featuring nothing but old fumetti reprints which were clearly inspired by the photo caption book trend of the early-sixties as well as some much better (and far more adult in intellect and subject matter) variations in HELP! As you can prob'ly guess, I was totally nonplussed by these satires lampooning everything from horror mooms to politics and the milking of the memory of Laurel and Hardy with silly word balloons which added nothing to the pair's mystique, so that partic'lar ish ended up in a box stashed in the basement which also contained various grade/high school weekly reader-type magazines, an EMMY LOU paperback, parts and pieces of cut up comic books, and examples of my own ten-year-old cartooning abilities including such long-forgotten faves as IMPY (named after the Lone Star diecast car company natch!) and of course RATS REAGAN. While prowling around in the basement looking for various flotsam to use as clip art for BLACK TO COMM #18 (hey alla you readers who wanna scarf up some available back issues of my long-decayed fanzine and keep writing to me personally or via the comment box...just click on ANY of the highlighted mentions of my shoulda-been-infamous crudzine and be taken to a post which not only lists the various back issues that are available, but the prices and how they can be obtained with relative ease!!! No need to burden yourself with the fact that your collection isn't complete dial up and make your choice AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE!!!) I said, while in the basement looking for some old bits to use in that now long-gone issue with an in-depth interview with Edgar Breau featured on the cover what should I find but this long-forgotten mag that I was rather embarrassed in picking up back when I was naught but a wayward thirteen-year-old and you know what...I thought it still sucked worse than a La Leche convention!

That particular mag is now snuggled comfortably and cozily in a box filled with MAD and other comic magazines of my youth and not-so that is stacked in a closet about twelve feet from where I'm pecking this, but then again what in the world possessed me to snatch up this copy of MORE CRACKED, a collection of various late-fifties vintage articles from that exact same publication which was purchased (along with a paperback fulla old HAZEL cartoons) at an outdoor antique/flea market about a good fifteen years back? Dunno, though for some reason I thought that it woulda been a great buy even if I never thought very much about this verifiable MAD imitation even when fifties-vintage flea market copies were being thrust upon me like potrzebie. I guess that I just couldn't pass up on a bargain, kinda like Wally when he bought that rusted out wheel-less mini-scooter for 75 cents on some old LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.

So as far as this particular slice of late-fifties snidedom goes, all I gotta say is that it sure holds up better than I thought it would! Dunno if that's because nowadays the notion of humor is so phony and piously preachy to the point where COMEDY CENTRAL and Bill Maher are nothing but ranters and ravers pretending to rage against the powers that be when in fact they are the powers that be, but it's come to the point where even an nth-rate cash-in on the teenage/college humor mag market like this can run rings around the entire nation of comedy circuit "moralizers". Not that CRACKED couldn't get preachy themselves (after all, they were always peeking over at MAD to see which way the prevailing winds of teenage sentiment were blowing) but at least in the late-fifties humorists knew where their audiences lied, and I'm sure they didn't want to fall into that Lenny Bruce/Dick Gregory rut where unfunny and threatening rants were somehow to be construed as "educational" commentary about the state of everything from race relations to the "hypocrisy" of everybody out there but themselves!

Thin volume here, but it does present a nice sampling of where the magazine was rotatin' back when more'n a few MAD imitations and emulations were popping up confusing many an ignorant twelve-year-old out there. Of course it was a real coup getting MAD originals John Severin and Jack Davis to work for 'em (Bill Elder, fresh from HUMBUG along with Davis, was an early recruit although he sure bailed out fast!), and although the satire certainly coulda used a little beefing up it ain't anything that drives me as bonkers as some of the turds that eventually would come out (Joe Simon's SICK, who also boasted Davis as an original staff member, comes to mind). True a lotta the stories are old, too indicative of MAD (as with the beat talk primer spoof) and perhaps hackneyed, but they still pack a whole lot more amusement into 'em than a George Lopez monologue and are digestible in their own cornball way. Of course the Severin art is excellent (too bad he didn't stick around at MAD so he could at least illustrate something written by better satirists of the postwar sphere), and although Davis's art ain't in that fine-lined detailed style that made HUMBUG (and a few of his magazine-era MAD contributions) such a fun read it's always nice to see the guy doing everything from spoofing HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL (which he also did for HUMBUG but why cry over it) to LASSIE. And true they coulda been funnier, but next to Robin Williams I guess even the phone book's packed with a lotta laughs!

So really, nice going here. True, CRACKED wasn't exactly the tippie-toppest of the teenage satire heap, but nowadays these old comics at least hearken back to not only a hot time for such fun and games, but a great time to have been alive unless you were some sexual pervo freak. And next to some of the others that were floating around at least CRACKED had some testosterone pumped into it by the artists who could take feh scripts and work some magic. And as far as I can tell, in these early stories there are no sly references to the biggie mag that CRACKED and their minions were swiping more'n a few ideas from unlike some of the other short-run efforts who weren't ashamed to sneak an Alfred E. Neuman into a panel (and this even went for TRUMP, and of course HUMBUG couldn't have survived as long without one ref per issue to Harvey Kurtzman's creation which would figure since once you get down to it that mag was more or less born directly from the loins of Moxie Cowznofski!)...naw, the MAD refs would come much later as CRACKED had risen up the spoof pole mostly on the coattails of the big one. But that was much later...and did I ever tell you how I was once shocked to see this one cover where janitor/mascot Sylvester Smythe was ramming pins into a voodoo doll, whose shadow looked ominously like the head of none other'n Alfred E. himself???

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