I first read this issue of MAD through a reprint as a kid. I really dig the subversive cover as it was designed, as the blurb says, to be snuck into class. I imagine lots of youngsters carried this around and were successful in not getting it confiscated by fascist teachers. In the 50’s it was fake comic covers, in the 70’s it was fake coca cola covers for beer cans. Or so I heard.
This issue of MAD #20 from 1955 has a couple of classic stories in it, the first one by Wally Wood is a favorite of mine. I also put these pages on Flickr as a photo set. Check it out if you want.
Sound Effects!: By Wally Wood. Great short feature lampooning the cliches of the crime noir genre. While in comic form it is more about the era of radio. An entire story told in sound F/X. Marvel should have done that instead of ‘Nuff Said a few years ago.
Paul Revere’s Ride: Based on the famous poem by Longfellow. Stories like this were probably carefully calculated and included only to keep the howling of Congress, Werthem and uptight parents at bay. In the 50’s the comic and fluoridated water industries were under heavy attack by self-appointed morality-police morons trying to tighten the reins of power and crush free thought. It was just a bit harder to rail against comics or movies when they featured some respected culture…like Fantasia and the WB cartoons did with toons that included opera and classical music.
Cowboy!: This is a great expose of how a stereotype is depicted in film and for this story, of television in particular. The story has a great layout. The TV version (note the black and white panels) of cowboy runs parallel to the ‘real life’ cowboy, telling the same story. Of course, most real world stories end up a little different than what is shown on television and they diverge quickly. This should be mandatory reading for any teen-ager of today, followed by a book report explaining how this relates to the Real World vs Their Unrealistic Fantasies Of Being Wealthy Ravers Who Hack Computers And Drive Cool Cars.
The house ad & letters page are also good, and you can find these pages here.