I've always been a fan of MAD Magazine, and I've always been a fan of magazine collections on CD-ROM, so this was a dream come true. I've gone back to it again and again over the years to re-read pieces that I remember from my youth or to see stuff from years before I was born. As an added bonus, my friends left the price tag on the box - not to show me how much it had cost, but to show me that it had been inventoried as "Educational Software"!
With my renewed interest in comic strips I have used the amazing search feature** to look for parodies that I knew of and parodies that I never knew existed. Here are two examples that show how things have changed and how things have stayed the same:
Here's a parody of the strip about compulsive meddler and advice-giver Mary Worth, a fan favorite over at The Comics Curmudgeon. Mary appears to be about ten years older than her current incarnation, although this could be more a reflection of the changing face of old age in the past 46 years than any character change.
One of the biggest complaints about Blondie is that it is very repetitive: the same characters, the same situations, the same locations, over and over. Will Elder thought so, too...52 years ago! Notice Daisy's brood: up until a few years - or was it decades? - ago, Daisy was often accompanied by a litter of identical-looking puppies. At some point in the recent past it appears that they were tied in a sack and tossed in the riv- I mean, they found good homes. From this parody we can see that the designs for the characters in Blondie have fundamentally changed very little in the past 50 years (Dagwood was still wearing that one-button shirt in the 1970s and possibly the 1980s or later), even though the character designs are radically different from what they looked like in the original, pre-Great Depression strips, when Dagwood was the scion of a wealthy family who chose to be disinherited so he could marry Blondie, a bubbleheaded flapper. In the end of this strip Dogwood has been transported into Terry and the Pirates or Steve Canyon!
This is just one tiny way of looking at the collected issues of MAD, which has always made a point of parodying and satirizing events of the day. There is a lot of historical and cultural information tied up on these discs. There are probably several Ph.D. theses in there somewhere.
And even better, an updated version of the collected MAD is out. Called Absolutely MAD, it packs everything from the first issues up until December 2005 onto a single DVD! I don't think I can wait for Christmas. Maybe I should establish that this will be the first thing that I buy with my first paycheck from my new job! That would certainly encourage me to start taking the job search seriously.