The Wednesday Run – July 13, 2011

Every Wednesday, JP makes the after-work run to his local downtown comic book shop. Comics arrive on Wednesdays you see and JP, fearful that the latest issue will sell out, rushes out to purchase his copy. This regular, weekly column will highlight a particularly interesting release, written in short order, of course, because JP has to get his – before someone else does!

MAD Harry Potter Special # 1
Written and Illustrated by:
The Usual Gang of Idiots
DC Comics/Time Warner

Ah satire. For a time in my, well, let’s call them “developing years,” it was all I could think of.

Where might I set my wide eyes upon it? When could I get my sweaty hands on it? How would I – wait a second. That’s pun, isn’t it? Farce? No, it’s not. It’s just poor metaphor. In any case, it’s not satire at all.

Nope. Satire, like other forms of comedy, can regularly be found these days on Fox News. And in the pages of MAD Magazine – just like when I (or you) was (or were) in my (or your) developing years. Going on nearly sixty years of publication, MAD Magazine continues to publish irreverent, childish and, often, head-shaking humour and other, awful attempts at humour.

Maybe it was the goofy, gap-toothed, Alfred E. Neuman character that graced the covers on a monthly basis (check out his wizarding scar on the image above for good snort) – I loved it as a kid! I’ve got stacks of the magazines lying around the house. I’d collect any issue that had a poke at “Star Trek” in it, my favourite being a 1982 spoof called “Star Blecch II: The Wreck of Korn!” I loved how Mort Drucker, the legendary artist, drew Spock’s oversized ears, Kirk’s razor-sharp sideburns and Khan’s heaving chest. And, of course, there was the witty, snappy Dick De Bartolo dialogue. Witness:

CHECKOFF: My God! It’s Korn!! You’re alive!!
KORN: Yes! I am alive, and I never forget a face! How are you doing, Richmond?
CHECKOFF: Sorry, my name is Checkoff!
KORN: I never forget a face! Names?! They give me a real problem!

(Image courtesy of

So, what does this “walk down memory lane” have to do with this week’s MAD Harry Potter Special #1 (beyond the tangential fact that the final instalment of the Potter film franchise is soon upon us)?

Maybe you had a little snicker at that Star Trek dialogue. I mean, we’ve grown up, haven’t we? MAD’s brand of humour is just for kids, after all. Just like Harry Potter is just for kids even though there’s millions of adult readers getting stuff out of those stories and those characters.

Parents and children are sharing the cultural phenomenon that is Harry Potter – maybe the same should be done with MAD Magazine. There’s a lot of comedy fodder in Potter for (a-hem) puns, jokes and satire. A little humour, childish or not, can be a freeing remedy in a busy day. Sam Viviano, the magazine’s art director, once suggested that MAD was at it’s best “whenever you first started reading it.”

Whether it’s your first time, or your first time again, make the run today and pick up some Harry Potter laughs.

Don’t worry. The snickers, snorts, giggles, chortles and chuckles will all be worth it.

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