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It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Month, Part 1 – Mad #200 (Close Encounters of the Third Kind)

September 2, 2011

So many of us grew up on Mad. I know that, for me, I couldn’t fully digest films or television shows until I had read the accompanying Mad parodies. Come to think of it, I’m still chuckling twenty years on about — of all things — a Regarding Henry spoof. That, my friends, is STAYING POWER. Put that in caps. Mad is also a book that not long ago engendered the question I ask more and more as the years wear on: “Is that still being published?”So often the answer is a sad negative. I was happy to learn that Mad is still going. Maybe not strong, but it’s going.

Anyway. I bought a handful of late-’70s/early-’80s Mads a couple of weeks ago, so I thought it would be fun this September, as summer rolls into autumn, to take a quick look at a bunch of them. Let’s make this a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad month. Why not?

And why not start with this, an anniversary issue from 1978 and one that features the film that stands at the top of my list of favorites. I’ve expressed by unalloyed devotion to Close Encounters of the Third Kind before, and it’s a love strong enough to withstand (and appreciate) a good ribbing. Roast away, Mr. Neuman!

Here we have the first scenes skewered under the ministrations of Stan Hart’s script and Mort Drucker’s pencil and pen. There’s the windy WWII plane discovery in the desert, complete with flatulence and marijuana jokes:

The mood-setting air-traffic controller scene also gets a body-blow — for some reason I especially like the mail-carrying bird:

Even the sundering of a family unit gets the mighty Mad treatment:

And what does child-man Roy Neary get when he finally reaches the promised land of the mothership?:

The more things change…

There were also some nice side features in this issue, including a Jack Davis-drawn/Tom Koch-written catalogue of stress-causing stimuli. This one tickled my political funny bone:

Yes, something involving David Eisenhower made me chuckle. That’s the power of Mad, people.

There was also a nice bit (Jack Rickard art, Frank Jacobs script) that had your everyday comic strips (Beetle Bailey, Dick Tracy, et al.) crafted with the intellectual posturing of Doonesbury. Here’s one with Blondie and poor Dagwood Bumstead reflecting on their social obtuseness:

More marijuana humor. I sense a theme.

There you have it, and I didn’t even get to all the Sergio Aragones goodness and the fold-in picture. Next time. Like I said, I have a few more Mad mags that I’d like to share, some of which touch upon the beloved comic book genre. Check back in over the next several weeks if you’re so inclined.

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