Earlier this year, comedy institution Mad magazine underwent a sort of soft reboot, announcing that, after 550 issues, it was launching as a re-numbered second volume under the stewardship of new head editor (and former Futurama art director) Bill Morrison. Blending old talent (including Sergio Aragonés and Al Jaffee) and new, the new volume was a chance for Mad to reinvigorate itself in a world where Cracked, of all places, had somehow supplanted it as a trusted destination for smart, cutting satire.
That’s going to be a hard path for new-Mad to walk, but a piece in the magazine’s December issue, by writer Matt Cohen and Marc Palm, suggests it might be well on its way to reclaiming its place as one of America’s sharpest satirical voices. Or, to put it another way, when was the last time something in Mad magazine was being passed around online and made you go, “Oh, holy shit”?
The basic “joke” of Cohen and Palm’s “Ghastlygun Tinies” is spelled out right there in the intro, noting that, in an age where school shootings are increasingly rampant, Edward Gorey’s classic Gashlycrumb Tinies goes a little too far afield in searching for ways that children are likely to die. What follows is a pitch-black execution of that idea, ably mimicking Gorey’s style while continually twisting the knife of the basic premise. It’s enough to give you some real hope about the magazine’s future—and pretty much nothing else.