Dear Canada: Let’s adopt Alfred

Regular column readers (poor souls) might recall my concern over MAD Magazine’s future.

To recap: The night before the Fourth of July (classy), DC Entertainment sent e-mails to MAD’s writers and artists to insist that they stop sending in new material, as MAD is shifting to a mostly-reprinted-articles format beginning this December. We also found out that MAD is coming off newsstands this October, with the magazine only available by subscription and in speciality (read: comic) shops once the fall settles in.

With an outpouring of emotional reaction and media attention that DC – and its corporate owners, Warner Brothers and AT&T – likely didn’t expect, the home of the Justice League tried some damage control.

In late July, DC co-publisher Dan Didio insisted that the company values MAD and will continue to publish “a smattering” of new material in its post-2019 issues, including the annual 20 Dumbest People, Events and Things section, which often gives MAD a big blast of publicity and increased sales in the run-up to Christmas. Didio also confirmed that DC will review the effectiveness of its new MAD strategy after its first year in operation.

Fine, then. I’ll call your bluff, DC. I’ve renewed my subscription for two years, even though MAD’s official Web site now mysteriously says I can only do that for one year.

And if DC’s decision to move MAD’s operations from New York City to Burbank, California two years ago proves to have been the beginning of the end for America’s longest-running satirical magazine, I’ll make one last-ditch proposal to save MAD:

Move it again. To Canada.

No, wait, hear me out. This wouldn’t even be MAD’s first foray across the 49th parallel. A Quebec-only, French-language edition of MAD hit newsstands in La Belle Province in the early ‘90s. Much of the material came from the U.S., but Canadian content also showed up.

One of Quebec MAD’s early covers featured the Montreal Canadiens’ then-captain, Guy Carbonneau, facing off against long-time MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman – in a Quebec Nordiques jersey. You can’t tell me a similar approach wouldn’t sell out across the country today. (Besides, if Mitch Marner keeps holding out from signing a contract with the Leafs, Alfred wouldn’t look out of place in Toronto’s blue and white.)

As well, a rising number of Canadians have contributed to MAD in recent years. Even Nova Scotians are getting into the act. Haligonian Mike Holmes (no, not the home-repair guy) has appeared on every MAD back page since the magazine’s move west, with his “Real, Dumb” feature lampooning true experiences sent in by MAD readers. And, without giving too much away, I can confirm that preliminary discussions have taken place between legendary political cartoonist Bruce MacKinnon and MAD’s current art director, Suzy Hutchison.

Then there’s talented Toronto caricaturist Sam Sisco, whose twisted drawings of celebrities and politicians led former MAD art director Sam Viviano to declare that “there must be something in the water up there in Canada.” Fellow Ontarian Sean Eisenporth also landed several MAD bylines in the ‘90s, including a few articles that got new life in MAD reprint editions over the past decade.

More recently, Vancouver’s Ian Boothby has become one of the go-to writers for the California MAD, bringing the witty approach he honed for the comic-book editions of The Simpsons and Futurama to the magazine’s traditional movie and TV parodies. Boothby’s crowning achievement, published in MAD this past February, saw the new Mary Poppins, Emily Blunt, leading a musical tour of the Trump White House. Imagine what he could do for the Canadian election campaign.

Besides, it looks like Canada is finally getting MAD’s attention. Next month’s issue will feature a parody of – I kid you not – The Handmaid’s Tale. I did not see a day when I would utter “Margaret Atwood” and “MAD Magazine” in the same sentence.

An issue released three years ago contained not one, but two Tim Horton’s jokes, courtesy of veteran artist/writers Sergio Aragones and Al Jaffee. In that issue’s letters section, MAD’s editors promised a free subscription to anyone who could get “feminist Canadian fancyman” Justin Trudeau to pose for a picture while holding a copy of the magazine. Thanks to veteran artists Tom Richmond and Hermann Mejia, Trudeau soon became the first-ever Canadian Prime Minister to be caricatured in MAD.

How would we pay for a Canadian MAD? We could cut out the middleman by publishing it in Point Tupper, at the Port Hawkesbury Paper mill. (Yes, folks, MAD is printed on super-calendared paper.) And wouldn’t any federal party leader love to be known as the Prime Minister who saved MAD?

Let’s do it. If DC wants to make MAD an orphan, let’s adopt Alfred and give him Canadian citizenship.

Besides, “What, Me Worry, Eh?” has a nice ring to it.