Henry Beard Talks at Length About National Lampoon

How did I miss this? Almost two years ago, Mike Sacks interviewed National Lampoon cofounder Henry Beard for the website Splitsider.com (link). It’s the interview I’ve always hoped he would give. A lot has been written about National Lampoon over the years, and all of the major players have told their stories, except Beard. Until now. (Well, until November 2012.) Better late than never. Highly recommended.

Chicken Gutz Rides Again!

Randall Enos has revived Chicken Gutz, the monthly strip he did in National Lampoon back in the seventies, as a daily web comic. It was a favorite of mine way back when, so this is pretty cool. The new strips look and feel just like the classic ones. I hope he keeps it up. Check it out: chickengutz.blogspot.com

A New Lampoon Book

Well, I guess that’s a pretty good reason to curtail the hiatus briefly.

There have been more than a few books written about National Lampoon and the people who worked there, but none of them puts the history of the magazine and its spin-offs in context the way Ellin Stein’s That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick: The National Lampoon and the Comedy Insurgents Who Captured the Mainstream does.

If you think of the Lampoon phenomenon as a big tree, with the magazine as the trunk, other books have drawn more detailed pictures of certain parts of the tree, or even from a point of view inside the tree.

Stein’s book is the first to step back and draw a full picture of the tree, from its roots in the Harvard Lampoon to the many branches and twigs that have grown from it over the years, including many that barely get mentioned in other books. The book has clearly been in the works for a long time. It includes material I’ve never seen before gathered from a number of people who have since died.

If you want to know about some particular aspect of National Lampoon—the life of Doug Kenney, the life of Michael O’Donoghue, Tony Hendra’s take on it all, Rick Meyerowitz’s favorite stuff from the magazine, or Chris Miller’s history of Animal House—there are other good books to choose from.

But for anyone who is interested in the big picture of National Lampoon‘s history and cultural influence, Ellin Stein’s That’s Not Funny, That’s Sick is the one to get.

Going on Hiatus for a While

It’s been fun, but I’ve pretty much lost interest in maintaining this site. I started it in order to learn how to make a website. But I’m long retired from doing any of that kind of work.

I’m not going to take the site down. I’ll leave it up indefinitely for those who can get something out of it. But there will be nothing new added. I won’t be accepting classified ads anymore. I’ll leave the Answers page open for comments, in case anybody can answer the unanswered ones, but I won’t be adding any new questions. If you didn’t get yours in, you’ll just have to figure it out yourself. (Hint: Get the National Lampoon Complete DVD. Almost everything you want is in there, and you can do text searches.) My apologies to anyone who has sent me a question or classifieds ad that I haven’t posted or responded to yet. You can stop waiting. I’m taking a break from¬†this for now. Bye!

“Where To Find Stuff” Page Updated

The last update was in 2002, so some of the information was very out of date. If you’re trying to find old NatLamp stuff, this is where to begin your search. Please let me know if I’ve left out any good resources.

More Lampoon Trivia

Another item was brought to me, also by Mr. Figler (see previous item). You may recall a poster that the Lampoon used to sell, “War is not unprofitable for poster-makers and other living things.” It was a parody of the once well-known poster “War is not healthy for children and other living things.” John found an item in the May 1971 issue of McCall’s magazine. Click on the photo to view the article.

Gahan Wilson’s “Nuts”

Nuts Graphic Novel.comic from the National Lampoon‘s Funny Pages is coming out soon in a hard cover “graphic novel” edition from Fantagraphics Books. If you don’t remember it, it was all about being a kid, not Wilson’s usual ghoulish and sci-fi themes. It includes a substantial amount of never-published material as well. A “must” for fans of the Lampoon‘s golden age. (Thanks to Robert for reminding me about it.)

Alice Playten, R.I.P.

Best known to NatLamp fans from her performances in the off-Broadway show Lemmings (“mega-groupie” and “Pizza Man”), Alice Playten has died at age 63. I saw her at the Rick Meyerowitz book event in NYC last December, but didn’t get a chance to talk to her. I never would have guessed that something like this was only six months away for her. She performed at the event with Paul Jacobs, Sarah Durkee, and Christopher Cerf in one of the highlights of the show—“Papa Was A Running Dog Lackey of the Bourgeoisie” (from Lemmings). (Obit here.) (Thanks to Michael Simmons for the link.)