Saturday, December 17, 2011
TONY’S BACK PAGES: CRACKED
I almost never bought Cracked back in the day. When I had extra
money after buying my super-hero comics, I’d buy MAD. If there
wasn’t a new MAD, I’d more likely buy something like Ross Andru and
Mike Esposito’s Up Your Nose and Out Your Ear because I hadn’t seen
it before. It wasn’t that Cracked didn’t have funny stuff within
its pages, but it never resonated with me the way MAD did.
But when Mark Arnold sent me his huge two-volume If You’re Cracked,
You’re Happy [Bear Manor Media, $34.95 per volume], I was intrigued
enough to go eBay shopping for an early issue of the magazine. The
one I found was issue #7 [February, 1959].
Sol Brodsky, one of my first bosses at Marvel, was editor of that
44-page issue. Superman creator Jerry Siegel was listed as one of
the writers, though, unfortunately, no credits appear on any of the
features. The artist roster includes familiar names: John Severin,
Bill McCartney (Bill Ward), Carl Burgos, Syd Shores, Bill Everett,
Richard Doxsee, Bernard Baily, Angelo Torres and Dick Richards.
Not that I’d have known who they were in 1959.
The issue presents a lot of material in 44 pages and, from where I
sit today, it looks like Cracked might have been going for an older
audience than MAD. Features like “Imaginary Fears and Complexes,”
“Everybody’s Got Something to be Thankful For” and “Our Two Faces”
all seem aimed at older readers.
There’s also a quite a bit of variety in the issue. There’s a bit
of cold war humor, a spoof of “The Millionaire” TV show, a strange
piece on how rumors get started, and a neat feature on little known
famous people. Trying to think of what my reaction to this issue
would have been when I was a kid and a pretty smart kid at that, I
think the material would have gone over my head. Another reason I
think Brodsky and company were going for older readers.
My memory, backed by Arnold’s books, is that Cracked set its sights
lower in the occasional issues I saw in the 1970s and later. Much
more emphasis on popular movies and TV shows. As is, I think the
magazine, which lasted several decades, ran enough interesting and
historically intriguing material to rate a “Best Of” collection or
three. I’d buy those.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2011 Tony Isabella