NYCC2011: MAD Panel Report
The MAD panel at the 2011 New York Comic Con started by introducing the audience to editor-in-chief (and moderator) John Ficcara, legendary MAD fold-in artist Al Jaffee, art director Sam Viviano, Spy vs. Spy artist/writer Peter Kuper, MAD magazine writer Desmond Devlin, and MAD television series head writer and producer Kevin Shinick, who in turn showed the audience a sizzle reel of both new and old clips from the show, poking fun at everything from the Smurfs and Benjamin Button to ThunderCats and Internet memes. The audience was asked to stand up and recite a pun-filled version of the Pledge of Allegiance before the announcement that MAD magazine would now ship bimonthly. The was pursued by a montage of various spoofs from the past year of MAD magazine. It was at this point that it became evident that the panel was to be used for shameless plugging of their products, such as the upcoming Spy vs. Spy omnibus coming this Fall, an upcoming book based on the Cartoon Network series titled Insanely Awesome MAD, the upcoming MAD Fold-In Collection (collecting every one of Al Jaffe’s MAD Fold-Ins since the beginning), and lastly the already released MAD Season 1 Volume 1 DVD and the upcoming MAD Season 1 Volume 2 DVD, coming January 17th (“Just in time for Christmas!” joked Shinick). Not content with just plugging their books and DVDs, the crew went on to promote The Idiotical.com, MAD‘s blog. These people were worse than Spaceball‘s Yogurt!
After getting that out of their systems, John Ficcara began asking the panelists questions about their work. Kuper was asked how he keeps on coming up with new Spy vs. Spy, to which he responded that he keeps a notebook with him at all times and writes down ideas when they strike him. He also humorously added that paychecks and deadlines help. Shinick gave the audience on some insight on the animation side of things, explaining that they have lots of animators in-house and freelancers, all in the United States, trained in the arts of Flash, stop-motion, photo-collage, etc. “We try to make it like a mini-animated film festival,” he said. The reason why it’s all mostly in-house is due to the quick turnaround needed to keep these jokes topical, some of them being completely animated mere weeks after being written.
When they started taking questions from the audience, the first question asked was will there be any Doctor Who spoofs, to which Kevin responded that he thought about it, but wasn’t sure if Doctor Who was popular enough for one. He asked the crowd if they’d like to see one, and after receiving an enthusiastic response, Kevin said that they will indeed do a Doctor Who spoof at some point. A young boy asked Shinick what his favorite mash-up was and Kevin answered that his favorite was the unaired “Dark Knight at the Museum,” but if forced to choose on that actually aired, he’d go with “Pooh Grit.” When asked about the ever-present puns, Devlin began to discuss the magazine’s standards while Shinick interjected, “We have no standards!” Shinick then elaborated and explained that they attempt to come up with ideas that a 3rd grade class, given a week, can’t come up with, and then usually base the story around the name. The crew also discussed how the magazine can get away with anything while the television show has to deal with Standards and Practices. Also reinforced was that the show was its own thing, and the team is attempting to keep it separate from the MADtv sketches, so don’t expect those characters to show up at any point.