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.)
Josh Karp’s 2006 book, A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever, is being made into a movie, with Will Forte as Kenney. Others in the cast are Domhnall Gleeson as Henry Beard, Matt Walsh as Matty Simmons, Seth Green as Christopher Guest, Rick Gassman as Harold Ramis, Jon Daly as Bill Murray, Joel McHale as Chevy Chase, Thomas Lennon as Michael O’Donoghue, Natasha Lyonne as Ann Beatts, and Josh Gemberling as John Belushi. Martin Mull will also play Kenney, but as an imagined older “modern Doug” (the real Doug Kenney died in 1980). The film is being produced for Netflix. Shooting is beginning this month and the film will be out in 2017. More info here.
The panel discussion about National Lampoon from Wednesday, featuring Rick Meyerowitz, Peter Kleinman, and Tony Hendra, was captured on video and can be viewed here. Update: Unfortunately, it appears that the video has been removed.
Former NatLamp art director Michael Gross died at his home in Oceanside, California today at the age of 70. Michael is one of my heroes, and a big part of why I created this site nearly 20 years ago. Because of this site, I was in contact with him from time to time over the last ten years or so. The last time was about a month ago when he sent me a link to the video about an award he got (see below). See also his obit in the New York Times. Also, lots of tributes on Michael’s Facebook page.
A panel discussion about the artists and writers of National Lampoon, moderated by graphic design historian Steve Heller, will be held on November 18, 2015 in New York City. Participants include illustrator Rick Meyerowitz, former editor Tony Hendra, and former art director Peter Kleinman. More info here.
The American Bystander is a new quarterly humor magazine being launched on Kickstarter. (If you don’t know what Kickstarter is, it’s a way for people, like maybe you, to help back new creative ventures. It’s sort of like public tv for artists, writers, and other creative types.)
Many of the folks behind The American Bystander are former Lampoon writers and artists, such as Brian McConnachie (who will be editor-in-chief), Ellis Weiner, Mike Reiss (also known for The Simpsons), Ron Barrett, Jack Ziegler, John Caldwell, Roz Chast, Robert Grossman, Frank Springer, Edward Sorel, R.O. Blechman, Mimi Pond, B.K. Taylor, and M.K. Brown. Other contributors are coming from SNL, The Simpsons, and Monty Python. It’ll be like a comedy all-star supergroup. Full disclosure: I designed the logo, so I’m kind of involved, too.
I think it’s going to be amazing, and it looks like they are well on the way to being funded.
A comedy mind is a terrible thing to waste. Won’t you help?
You can watch his acceptance speech here. The award presentation, by Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters, starts about 24 minutes in.
Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead, the new documentary film about the National Lampoon, is making the festival circuits right now. At some point, you will be able to see it, but in the mean time you can download the poster, featuring Rick Meyerowitz’s iconic Mona Gorilla.
(Side note: Rick wrote a large-format book with the same title, and even the same font. The film is using it with his permission, of course. But I’m glad they also chose to use Rick’s Mona Gorilla art. I honestly can’t think of an image more associated with the magazine than that. Rick specifically chose not to use it on his book, and I respect his choice, but I’m glad they chose to use it for the film.)