Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Well, given these are the post-Holiday slumparoonies what else would you expect? Hadda dig deep into the paperback bin to pull these longtime mid-seventies-era flea market finds out and yeah, I guess you could say that I'm the poorer for it. It's not that longtime MAD cartoonist and scrutinizer of all things midclass Dave Berg was a lousy artist...he wasn't although his style certainly had an awkward look to it that matched his own typically middle twentieth-century New York Progressive beliefs. It's not that Dave Berg didn't come up with many good zingers (he did, much to my surprise), and it's not that Dave Berg was the summation of just about everything that lay dead and rotting about depression-era morphing into baby boomer morality...but PUT 'EM ALL TOGETHER and they spell out just about everything that I can't stand about the guy from his mealy sixties homilies about us all loving one another to his generation gap quibbles that even a nth-rater like myself saw through when I first laid eyes upon his more preachy work during my mid-teen years!

After perusing these cheap-o paperback reads maybe you can see just why this guy sticks out  like an even sorer thumb with his rather "blinkered" as they say observations that got even more outta whack as the years crept up and Berg, along with the mag he'd been toiling at since the late-fifties, came off as an even bigger crank 'n the ones he self-congradulatorinly has been exposing to all of us pre-teens for the past twenny-five years!

MAD'S DAVE BERG LOOKS AT THINGS, page 35, a "strip" as we shall say entitled "Declaration of Independence" begins with a middle-aged father talking to his faux bohemian, Joan Baez-ish daughter with acoustic guitar in what looks like a typical mid-sixties suburban living room. Father: "What the heck was that you were just singing, one of those protest songs? What do you have to protest about?" Daughter: "Unreasonable, oppressive authority." SECOND PANEL:  Father: "By that you mean parental authority, I presume?" Daughter: "Well, if you wanna put it that way, yes! We've a new spirit of freedom and revolt amongst all American youth. I want to cut the umbilical cord, snip the apron strings, fly the coop, flee the nest and leave this house. It's not a home, but a womb. I WANT MY COMPLETE, UNEQUIVOCAL FREEDOM!" THIRD PANEL:  Father: "My poor darling, I didn't realize you felt that strongly about your independence. Well, if that's how you want it, I'll even help you find a little place of your own - away from the family. And I suppose, under the circumstances, you'd be much too proud to go on accepting an allowance. LAST (AND THANKFULLY FINAL) PANEL: Daughter: "Oh no daddy, I didn't want that much independence!" with father putting on one of those smug "I gotcha" parental authority smirks old folks used to display as part of the whole "we know the true meaning of life and you don't!" act that thankfully has lost its potency as the years rolled by.

Funny, if I were writing the strip, I woulda changed it to having the gal take dad up on his offer, then he opens up a newspaper a good year or so later and finds out that his own progeny had become Lydia Lunch! Or maybe even the newest porn sensation best known for her manyfold deep nostril abilities!!! But even that would need a little bitta ironing out. Still, it is a whole lot funner (and "relevant", in a true, non hipster sense) than the stuffy New York suburban credo that has permeated Berg's work ever since Bill Gaines or whoever consented to having him do that "Lighter Side Of..." feature that the guy sure ran into the ground.

Of course anybody who's been reading MAD since the early days of Berg can recite the entire credo by heart...slobs who don't shave and wear undershirts while watching lowbrow tee-vee bad, greaser kids in fake leather jackets bad, hippies bad, but they can be a good bad, everyday schmoes are good though they can be good fodder for exposing the foibles of midclass Amerigan living, and adolescents really need to be put in their place! Of course Dave Berg loves the whole world, which I guess would have made him an even bigger idiot than anybody reading this mess coulda guessed!

Really tough least with a MAD rag in hand you could glance over at the always entertaining Don Martin and "Spy vs. Spy" 'toons but here all you've got as far as giving your eyes a break is the spider crawling about on the wall. At least the vapidness that many have argued about as being part and parcel to bourgeois living is brought to life thanks to a guy who was a one-man definition of just about everything that was wrong with it!

OK, I'll try to find a better selection for the next mid-week gap filler. But sheesh, was this a rough ride through all of those mid-sixties humanist kumbayaisms straight out of THIS IS THE LIFE that were supposed to change us all for the better! Only makes one shudder at just how much of a failure that comfy-cozy midclass suburban liberalism has been here from the vantage point of a good fortysome years. I mean, here it is 2012 and we still don't have a black president!


Anonymous said...

Who the hell are you kidding? You haven't got the talent that Dave Berg had in his smallest fingernail!



Christopher Stigliano said...

As for my response to your above comment (and the one you left af ter my review of GOOD 'N' MAD, see panel four of the above cartoon.

665+1 said...

Dave Berg always stood out like a sore thumb to me as a kid thumbing through MADs at garage sales- these particular collections look like a slog and a half through the dustiest annals of memory lane, blecch. Also- do you still have back issues of the printer version of B2Comm? Would love to send some bread your way, brother! -Jon-Christian