Big Vanity Fair Piece on the Fall of National Lampoon

The May 2017 issue of Vanity Fair featured an article by Benjamin Wallace called “Can Anyone Repair National Lampoon’s Devastated Brand?” (online version here). I was alerted to its existence back when the issue was still on the stands (thanks to reader Logan Lee), but I put off reading it, dreading a depressing read.

I wasn’t wrong about that. I started Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site back in 1996. At the time, I didn’t know if National Lampoon was even in business anymore. But I soon found out that it still existed, albeit a shadow of its former self. Somehow, it’s not in any better shape now than it was then.

The Vanity Fair article chronicles the Lampoon from around that period to the present. Some of it I’ve learned of as a consequence of running this site. Over the years, I’ve corresponded occasionally by email with some of the folks featured in the article—Dan Laikin and Scott Rubin in particular. But for the most part, it has been a distant sideshow for me. It never seemed like what they were doing was likely to amount to much in terms of reviving the Lampoon name. If they succeeded, cool. But my interest has always been with the early years of the magazine.

The article connects bits and pieces I’ve picked up in the two decades of doing this site, stuff I honestly hadn’t paid all that much attention to. Things always seemed kind of shaky over there, but it sounds like it was even worse than I’d imagined. As a former staffer is quoted as saying, the joke around the office was that they were all in a movie called National Lampoon’s National Lampoon.

So, if you’re wondering what the hell happened to your favorite humor “brand”, be sure to check it out.

Big Dirty Duck Book Forthcoming

Dirty Duck Book
Dirty Duck, by Bobby London

Reader Rob informs me that a new large format book, comprising nearly all of Bobby London’s Dirty Duck strips, is coming out in June. I know Dirty Duck from the National Lampoon, but the strip also appeared earlier in Air Pirates Funnies and later in Playboy, and apparently in a few other places. (I wonder if it includes the flip book animation from National Lampoon Comics?) It’s a hardcover book with over 300 pages, and you can pre-order it now from Amazon.

Back Issues of NatLamp Available for Purchase in Digital Format

UPDATE: Please ignore this entire article. Apparently, they are no longer offering back issues in PDF format. I’m not sure when exactly they stopped, but it was noted in a comment below that it was already happening in March 2018.

Reader George Hunka has alerted me to the fact that they are selling back issues of National Lampoon in PDF form over at for $2.oo each (35¢ in 1973 dollars). Not sure how long they’ve been selling them, but these are the same PDFs that were in The National Lampoon Complete DVD-ROM that was published about ten years ago. That collection has been out of print now for a while and is currently fetching very high prices on eBay and Amazon.

Like the DVD-ROM, only regular issues are available, and it’s the same not-great-but-okay-for-reading quality with very occasional missing pages and what not. But, if you’re looking to reread some side-splitting article you remember from your misspent youth, 2 bucks is a pretty good deal, and cheaper than the original cover price.

The PDFs are searchable, but that’s probably not that useful if you don’t have the whole set or some large portion of it. If you do want the whole set, it might be cheaper to purchase it even at the current premium (if you can find it) than to click the “buy” button for each of the 246 issues offered on

Remember, if you’re not sure which issue something appeared in, if it was from the first five years, you can use the Issues index. There is also the Answers section, which also includes a lot of info about issues beyond the first five years. In any case, the search box at the upper right should quickly help you figure out which issue to get if you’re looking for something in particular.

Site Update Complete

Yay. I went through page by page and checked and updated every link I could find. I even added a bunch of links I had neglected to include in the Answers section. I also added a bunch of “update” notes to news items. Like, remember when the cover painting from the November 1973 issue, the “self-portrait” of Van Gogh by Mara McAfee, went up for auction? Turns out it sold for over $7000! Lastly, I caught and fixed a ton of typos and other errors.

Welcome to Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site version 3.0!

Site Update Continues

Everything is now moved over to my new system, but I still need to update most of the internal links (links to pages within this site). So, if you click on something and you get a “not found” message, try using the Search box to find what you were trying to see. It will take some time, but eventually I should be able to catch them all.

So, yes, the Search feature works again. It’s been broken for some time, but now it’s much better than before, and fast, too.

The site design is totally new and not finished. It works, but I’d like it to look more like the old design. Currently it looks a bit empty and bare-bones for my taste. I’ll fix it, but I need to spend time getting my head wrapped around WordPress themes. The good thing about the new design is that it’s responsive, meaning that it changes itself to fit the device you’re using. So it works as well on a tiny smartphone screen as it does on a giant computer display.

Except for a few minor bits, everything from the old site is here. It’s rearranged a bit, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find your way around. Try the Search box if you get lost.

You may be wondering, does this mean I’m actively working on the site again? As you may recall, I put it on hiatus back in 2012. Although, I have posted a few news items since then. So, maybe.

I put all this work into moving the whole thing to Wordpress only because the thing I was using before was so old it was starting to break. My hosting service got it working for me, but put me on notice that I should probably to switch to something more modern soon. So I decided to bite the bullet and make the change while I still could. Either that, or the site would just stop working sooner or later.

As I went through every page of the site, it reminded me how much work I’d put into it in the past, and what an amazing phenomenon the National Lampoon was in its heyday. No promises, but I think I’m going to do a little fix up around here, maybe patch a few holes and finish the unfinished bits. My new blog system makes things pretty easy to work on now. Plus, the site will be twenty years old this May.

So, stay tuned. And sorry about those broken links. I’ll get to them.

Things Are Going to Be a Little Weird Around Here for a Little While…

I’m switching to a new back-end for the site, so some things, like the Issue listings, Radio Show listings, and so on, will be temporarily missing, or certain things won’t work right, like links to missing stuff. News and Answers are all here—including comments from the last ten plus years.

I hope to get everything up and running properly soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

NatLamp Doc Now Streaming on NetFlix

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, the documentary film about the National Lampoon, is streaming on Netflix now! There doesn’t seem to be a way to link directly to the movie, so you’ll need to search “drunk stoned” to find it once you’re on Netflix.

It’s also been available on DVD and BluRay for almost a year, a fact I forgot to mention on my site before. But hey, the price now is about half what it was when it was first released last March. You’re welcome.

National Lampoon Art Staff, Mid-1979

Barry Simon, who worked as an editorial designer at the magazine from 1979-81, sent me this photo of the art staff, taken just before he started working there. The photo was shot by Pedar Ness for an in-house ad for Black Sox jackets (remember those?). Pictured in the photo, from left to right, are Mark Gill (former manager of the mailroom and frequent model used in the magazine), Laurie Lenovitz (sister of Lisa Lenovitz and model used in several issues—not Maira Berman as previously stated), Art Associate John Schnakenberg (not confirmed), unidentified woman who worked in a support capacity, Susan Devins, Associate Art Director Lisa Lenovitz (lying on the floor), Design Director Peter Kleinman, Art Director Skip Johnston, “Sam the Stat Man”, and an unidentified woman who worked in accounting. (Thanks to Peter Kleinman for corrections. If anyone reading this knows the identity of unidentified people in this photo, drop me a line.)