I didn’t mention the death of Mad magazine because in my mind it stopped being a truly influential cultural satire publication 40something years ago. Seriously — Mad stopped being a necessary thing sometime in the early to mid ’70s. (The vital era was really the mid ’50s to mid ’60s.) I respect the fact that they kept publishing well past peak cultural potency — who doesn’t admire drive and tenacity? — but every publication has its day, and Mad‘s was during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations.
Somehow or some way Mad, Steve Allen, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Tuli Kupferberg and Lenny Bruce were part of the same ’50s comic-hipster mindset; they all seemed to be sipping from the same attitude well. Mad and Bruce both ascended around 1955, when Mad dropped the comic book format and became a magazine. Bruce died in ’66; the Mad vitality began to ebb or dilute around that same time. More and more people getting stoned changed the game — in the ’50s and early ’60s Mad delivered its own kind of pot high in a way. Yes, it hung on for decades after that (and hats off to those who kept the brand burning), but now it’s really over and done with.