In Lamenting the Loss of MAD Magazine, Exhuming its Lafayette Street Origins [HISTORY]

Posted on: July 9th, 2019 at 5:07 am by

When Duane Ready opened, July 2010

Last week, over the quiet Fourth of July holiday, the world learned that MAD Magazine will no longer appear on newsstands, and cease to print new material. Instead, the iconic 67-year-old satire will go into syndication, so to speak.

According to widely published reports, the October issue will be the last. Thereafter, mainly reruns – the only new MAD material will be year-end specials and each of the covers. Newsstands won’t sell it, either. Just mail and comic book stores.

This news is devastating. MAD was really the only comic book we read growing up. Most memorably as a young camper with this flimsy publication as primary means of entertainment. The pithy satire of Sergio Aragones’ A Mad Look At…, Spy vs. Spy, the Mad Fold-in on the back cover. All of it great.

Especially since the operation was based in Little Italy.

The roots of MAD Magazine date back to the glory days of comics on Lafayette Street. Specifically, number 225 at the southeast corner of Spring.

Designed by Cass Gilbert – the same architect behind the Woolworth building – the city landmark was built in 1927 and anchored by the East River Savings Bank. Two decades later, Educational Comics took space on the seventh floor.

This comic book company was founded by the father of the comic book industry, Max Gaines, who left it to his son after a freak boating accident on Lake Placid in 1947. It was William Gaines who took the struggling company, which focused on bible and history comics, and brought it success.

The first step was a name change to Entertaining Comics; then he and friend Al Feldstein dreamed up the idea for The Crypt of Terror (later rebranded, Tales from the Crypt), inspired by their shared a love of horror and sci-fi radio dramas of the 1930s and 1940s.

Staff writer and artist Harvey Kurtzman brought in the idea for MAD. The first issue hit the stands in 1952, and parodied their own genre specialty of horror. Gap-toothed mascot Alfred E. Newman didn’t become the poster child until four years later.

Gaines sold the company in the early 1960s to Warner/DC Comics, which meant the end of the tenure at 225 Lafayette Street.

Recent Stories

Full GovBall Lineup Announced for Summer 2020

This year marks the 10th anniversary of The Governors Ball Music Festival on Randall’s Island, and Founders Entertainment has tapped some big names to kick off the celebration. Headliners for this year’s festival are GovBall veterans Tame Impala, alongside New York indie darlings Vampire Weekend. New additions to the top slots include venerable Fleetwood Mac […]

International Center of Photography Launches at Essex Crossing Next Week

For the International Center of Photography, four years of transition come to an end next week, as the institution plans its inauguration at Essex Crossing. The 40,000 square-foot museum and school, reunited for the first time since the midtown move, will debut on January 25 with a free “Opening Community Day.” Visitors on day one […]

Michelin-Star Chef Bringing Omakase to Former Black Tap on Ludlow Street

From shakes to sushi. After the epic bomb that was Black Tap, 177 Ludlow Street is now taking a more upscale tack. Omakase, which is Japanese dining for the ultra-luxe set. Real Estate Weekly has the scoop, reporting that a new mystery tenant, who currently owns and operates eight restaurants in New York and Tokyo, […]

‘Karvouna’ Evicted from the Bowery After Less than a Year

Restaurants can’t seem to make it work at 241 Bowery. The latest entrant, Karvouna Mezze, just joined the growing list of failures at this address. The City Marshal paid a visit to the restaurant and shut it down. All told, Karvouna lasted barely one year. Partners Dimitris Vlahakis, Wei Chen, and Chef Giuseppe Scalco (Merakia […]

Beastie Boys and Spike Jonze Announce New Documentary for Apple+

Apple yesterday announced that a new Beastie Boys documentary is coming to its Apple+ platform this spring. Right alongside the 26th anniversary of Ill Communication. Beastie Boys Story is just that – the history of the band as told by surviving members Mike D. and Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz. It’s based on the bestselling Beastie Boys […]