Thursday, September 12, 2013

BOOK REVIEW! MAD VERTISING, OR UP MADISON AVENUE by Dick DeBartolo and Bob Clarke (Signet Books, 1972)

I never was a humongous fan of many of the MAD paperbacks that contained all-new material of a thematic variety (unless you'd count the various Don Martin books like THE MAD ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN KLUTZ, the two MAD LOOKS AT OLD MOVIES or the various "all new" SPY VS. SPY titles as having underlying themes), and that's probably why I passed on this collection back when it first hit the racks in 1972. At that time I was more keen on the fact that the Ballantine collection of Harvey Kurtzman-manned MAD comic book material was finally making it out after being MIA for a few years, and plunking down a hard-begged 75 cents on a book featuring pieces on "deceptive" packaging and the ways businesses try to screw you outta your dough didn't seem quite the thing to do. After all, you could get the exact same rap from your father after he discovered you spending a buck on some item that seemed to boffo at first but turned out to be nothing but "cheap plastic junk" (my own dad's fave cliche), so why pay for it when you can get it free anyway???

Well, I happened to get this 'un in a stack of MAD p-backs recently, so it wasn't like I was waiting to read MAD VERTISING with anticipated breath the same way I would DON MARTIN COOKS UP MORE STEAMROLLER GAGS. And y'know, I really do pride myself on the fact that I was right about this book then and and still right about it a good four decades later, because MAD VERTISING ain't nothing but the same "Madison Avenue" rundown (literally) you saw inna mag since the early-sixties only compacted into a standard Signet paperback that takes on more of an air of a textbook than satire. Yeah, we've heard it all before whether it be from Ralph Nader or author Dick DeBartolo, and even before that HUMBUG was doing some funnier things about packaging with much better artwork to back the oft dry puns up! (Not that Bob Clarke wasn't a bad craftsman, but his art on this 'un was clearly a crankout compared to that earlier MAD airbrushed look they eventually jettisoned probably because it cost too much.)

Face it, this book seems to be as much of a ripoff as the products being satirized, and if it weren't for the fact that this 'un got stuck in with a batch of better MAD reads you know it'd still be rotting away in some aging overgrown adolescent's closet. What once seemed like up-to-date and relevant satire (or at least "fun with a purpose") now come off more like a nudge that wouldn't even have gotten a laugh on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW. Dates worse than a Clash album. The fact that this book's now in THIS aging overgrown adolescent's closet does prove something...that as far as suburban slobs go I probably have it worse off'n even the most horn-rimmed golly ned kid you went to school with. After all, anyone who's hard up enough to picked this book up for a serious reading in the first place probably is living an existence that would make your average plastic pocket protector geek from school days' seem like an eternity at the Playboy Mansion!

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