Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Nostalgic MAD #1 (1973)


The Nostalgic MAD #1 (Summer, 1973)
"Superduperman" - From MAD #4 (April-May, 1953)
"Melvin of the Apes" - From MAD #6 (August-September, 1953)
"Outer Sanctum" - From MAD #5 (June-July, 1953)
Writer/Edits - Harvey Kurtzman
Pencils - Wally Wood, John Severin, Bill Elder
Colors - Marie Severin
Letters - Ben Oda
EC Comics
Cover Price: $0.10 FREE

Got a weird-er one today... a copy of a reprint collection that I was able to snag right before a fella at the comic shop chucked it into the garbage.  You'd likely seen the photo I included to start this article off... and, yeah... this bugger's been beat to hell (and back!).  We might be able to refer to it as the super-rare "tape instead of staples" variant (tape instead of staples misprint?)... hmm, maybe I'll throw this up on eBay once I'm done, sell it to myself for some unbelievable amount to drum up interest, then sell it to a sucker comics enthusiast so I can finally become independently wealthy!

Ahem... what was I saying?

Oh yeah!  I saved this mangled and beaten copy of The Nostalgic MAD #1 from the landfill.  I felt like this might be my only way of ever covering some of the old MAD stories here on the blog, and as a fake-ass comics historian, that was something that very much appealed to me.  This originally appeared as an insert in MAD Special #9 (Summer, 1973)... which might account for how torn up it's poor spine is!  Hell, for all I know it spent the past couple of decades as a dog's chew toy.

Now, right off the bat... I wanna get it out of the way, I'm not a fan of MAD Magazine... and, growing up, I never was.  All I knew of it, was that it was that ugly-looking magazine with that especially ugly-looking kid on the cover.  That being said, when I was little, I never realized that MAD started out as a more "traditional" (relatively speaking) comic book.  In more recent years, I've tried to expose myself to as much of the older stuff as I could find... and, we even did an episode of the Cosmic Treadmill where we talked about one of these early issues!

This special insert I'm about to share with you features three stories, originally featured in MAD #4, 5, and 6 from 1953.  It's a fun little trio, and were probably the best way for them to kick off this run of "Nostalgic" MAD features.  Before we hit the dashes, and to assuage my own obsessive rules, I wanna justify this piece with: Since MAD is (and has long been) a part of the DC Comics publication "family", I figure that makes this safe to share here at the humble blog.

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"Superduperman" - From MAD #4 (April-May, 1953)
Harvey Kurtzman & Wally Wood


Our first story features Superduperman, and it opens in the offices of the Daily Dirt, where lowly Assistant (to the) Copy Boy, Clark Bent spends his afternoon wandering from spittoon to spittoon on his daily emptying shuffle.  He's called into the Boss's office where he's given his weekly salary of three twenty-five cent pieces.  Our boy is overjoyed, as, with this seventy-five cents, he has now saved one-thousand smackers... with which he can buy a pearl necklace for the object of his desire: Lois Pain, Girl Reporter!


He heads off to buy the baubles before the end of shift, and returns to the Dirt to hand 'em over.  He finds her surrounded by potential romantic partners... many a wagging tongue in this office, lemme tell ya.  After they disperse, Clark presents her with the pearls... in exchange, she allows him two sniffs of her perfume before giving him the ol' "Git away from me kid, ya botha me!"


Bent wishes he were able to share with Pain that he's not just any ol' Assistant (to the) Copy Boy, but he is... in fact, Superduperman!  We find out that there's an "Unknown Monster" terrorizing the streets of Cosmopolis, and our hero knows what must be done.  After some trial and error, he finds an unoccupied phone booth, and Supe-Dupe's up.


He heads back into the Dirt to get some deets... and runs into Billy Spafon, Boy Reporter.  With a SHAZOOM we learn that Billy is actual Captain Marbles... and what's more, he's gone rogue!  He is the "Unknown Monster"!


Over the course of the next few pages, Superduperman and Captain Marbles beat the hell out of one another.  It becomes plainly clear that Marbles is the stronger of the two... and so, in order to defeat him, Superduperman is going to have to out-think him.  Which he does, when he tricks Cap into punching himself in the face... knocking his Mighty Mortal self out!


The story wraps up with Superduperman starting to sniff around Lois Pain... and even revealing to her that he's actually Clark Bent!  She is not impressed... and in fact, still thinks he's a total creep.


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"Melvin of the Apes" - From MAD #6 (August-September, 1953)
Harvey Kurtzman & John Severin


Our second story opens with Melvin and Jane swinging through the trees... when ol' Mel misses a vine and falls into a hole.  Jane notices that the Ookabollakonga are "on the warpath again" attacking their friends Hunter and Safari.  Melvin heads over to clear up the scuffle, and finds that the Ookabollakongas were actually bugging a fella named Sir Whitegreen Greystone (of the London Greystones, naturally).  Once the baddies are scared off, Whitegreen reveals to Mel that he's there looking for a boy who had been lost in this jungle many years prior... one that was rumored to have been raised by apes.  Whattayaknow, that little boy... was Melvin!  With the promise that a ranch-style house will be waiting for him, they head for London right away... leaving poor Jane all by her lonesome.


Time passes, and they finally dock in London.  Whitegreen is greeted by his grandfather, Blackblue... who is shocked to learn that his grandson returned with the long-lost Melvin Greystone.  Melvin, who arrived in a cage, starts greeting his English relatives with the customary Ookabollakonga hello... which is, a headbutt!


Melvin is taken to the Greystone Estate, where he's given a nice suit (but no shoes).  There is a party thrown in his honor... during which, he goes all "primal" and ya know, destroys and eats everything.  He even sits directly on the table, which might be the worst faux pas of all.


The wait-staff brings out a suckling pig... which, believing it to still be alive (despite the apple in its mouth, and its mixed-green bedding) Melvin pounces on... and stabs several times.  He then eats the entire pig... depriving the other guests from even getting a bite.


Then... the band start playing.  This isn't the sort of entertainment Melvin is accustomed to, and so, he decides to crank things up a notch by calling forth all his pals from the nearby forests and zoos!  Before we know it, the entire party is swarming with some very violent monkeys!  Melvin proclaims that it's time for the Secret Ritual of the Dum Dum... which, would appear to climax with a... human sacrifice?  Well, can't say that Mel doesn't know how to control a room!


The story concludes back in the jungles of Africa... where Jane is still sobbing over her lost love.  Suddenly, several members of the Greystone family (all but one, evidently) come swinging by, trying to get as far away from Melvin as possible.


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"Outer Sanctum" - From MAD #5 (June-July, 1953)
Harvey Kurtzman & Bill Elder


In our third and final story, we're greeted by our "host" Ramon, who really hopes we're here to fix his squeaky tomb door.  Since we're not, and we're here anyway... he'd like to share a story with us.  This one comes from the Crypt of Terror #7 comic book (cover-dated July-August of some year)... actually it looks like there never was a Crypt of Terror #7... Crypt of Terror took over the numbering of Crime Patrol... which took over the numbering of International Crime Patrol... which took over the numbering of International Comics!  Issue #7 would've been under the Crime Patrol title!  Of course, none of this matters since it's just a gag... but, you know me... I think too much about stupid stuff!  Anyhoo, this horror tale opens in the Louisiana Bayou, where a Professor (called The Professor) is about to stir up a concoction in a cauldron.


After taking a swig, the Prof realizes he ain't keen on the flavor... and decides to dump the whole pot out the window and into the swamp.  Ya see where this might be headed?  That night, the bubblin' stuff works its way through the swamp... giving birth to: The Heap!


The Heap rises from the muck, and decides to pay his Pappy the Prof a visit.  They hit it off right away.  The Professor... who we now learn is "Evil", though that really isn't much of a surprise, has an idea on how to best use his creation.  And so, the following morning, they head into town and check out the Cajun National Bank... and rob it!


Their crime spree continues over the next little while... however, one day the Professor notices that something strange had come over his "son" the Heap.  The muck-encrusted whatzit was suddenly acting all sorts of... self-conscious?  The Professor found him combing his slime, applying aftershave, and even dressing in a killer zoot-suit.  Turns out, his li'l boy was in love!  Lucky for him, there just happened to be a female garbage heap hanging out behind the Professor's hut!  I wonder if this means these Heaps are related?  I wasn't expecting this to be incestuous!


The Professor wasn't about to have none of this, and so he did what he felt he needed to do... he burned the female garbage heap!  Oh, the humanity!


The Heap went berserk... ran amok through town... then disappeared back into the bog, never to be seen again.  This tale wraps up with the possibility that the Heap did once again meet up with the female garbage heap... and together they had trashy, slimy little heap-tots.


The feature, and the issue concludes with our humble host, Ramon bidding us farewell... before realizing that the pile of garbage in his receptacle wasn't garbage at all... but, The Heap!


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Well, this was a pretty weird departure from the normal nonsense I cover here... but, overall... I had a good time with it.

I certainly feel like this issue "peaked" early with the Superduperman feature, though The Heap was a lot of fun too.  The only story here I really didn't care for was Melvin of the Apes... who, I'm guessing isn't the Melvin that the tot on the cover was warning his folks about.  I will say that the art was exceptionally strong throughout all three stories.

Superduperman was probably my main draw for covering this in the first place... Superman, out of the three satirized subjects, is the only one I have any sort of beyond-surface-level familiarity with.  I do think renaming the characters as Clark "Bent" and Lois "Pain" was a bit lazy... but, then again, I highly doubt Kurtzman thought some grown idiot would be analyzing these bits some seventy-years later.  The Captain Marvel bit was cute... and probably served as the best possible foil for Superduperman.  I know I already mentioned how much I enjoyed the art, but, it's worth repeating that Wally Wood's work here is wonderful.

Melvin of the Apes... uh, looked nice.  Really did not like this one much at all.  I'm not much of a Tarzan aficionado, so perhaps there were some "beyond-surface-level" nods to the source material that I would've better appreciated had I been more familiar with it... but, ehhh... overall, wasn't a fan!  Again, it looked nice!

Our final story, featuring The Heap was pretty cool.  I liked the old Tales from the Crypt style "host" segment... and it actually got me to do a little bit of research on some old EC Comics.  The tale itself was fun... with The Heap being an unwitting accomplice to all sorts of crimes, before falling in love with a pile of garbage.  The ending of the story-within-a-story was cute... as was the close of the overall feature.

These stories have been collected... but, not being the biggest MAD-fan, I couldn't tell ya how easy, difficult, or spendy it might be to track 'em down!  The issues that include the three stories we have here (actually most-or-all of the early comics-trim issues) are available digitally at Comixology.  I'll include the links... rrrrrrright now!

Issue #4 - Superduperman
Issue #5 - The Heap
Issue #6 - Melvin of the Apes

Overall, had a good time with this... and, if satire's your thing (heck, even if it's not), I think you'll dig this well enough too!

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Et-Cetera and "Ads":


2 comments:

  1. That last story was a spoof of Inner Sanctum, an old radio show that also began and ended with a door creaking.

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    Replies
    1. I knew about INNER SANCTUM being a "thing" that existed... though, couldn't tell ya if it were a TV show, radio show, or movie serial... and, I *definitely* didn't realize the creaking door was a reference to it! Thank you for letting me know!

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