Your Unauthorized Guide to the Golden Age of National Lampoon Magazine

National Lampoon Magazine, 1970-1998, R.I.P.

March 10, 1999

I recently got confirmation of something that I had been hearing rumors about over the last few months: National Lampoon magazine has ceased publication. The November 1998 (Failure) issue was the final new issue published by J2 Communications, the current owners all things National Lampoon.

According to documents filed with the SEC last October, J2 Communications has renegotiated its contract with the Harvard Lampoon which dates back to the 1970 founding of National Lampoon by Harvard Lampoon alums Henry Beard, Doug Kenney, and Rob Hoffman, and magazine publisher 21st Century Communications. (Harvard Lampoon apparently owns the rights to the name “Lampoon” and has considerable say over what the owners of National Lampoon may do with the name and anything associated with it.) In the new agreement, J2 Communications is no longer required to publish new issues of the magazine (in fact, it is barred from doing so), though it may do whatever it wants with previously published materials and retains the rights to the “National Lampoon” name.

This news should not be surprising to anyone who has followed the magazine in recent years. Since the early ’90s, National Lampoon magazine has been published only once yearly—the minimum required by the previous contract—apparently in order to retain the right to use the name for licensing.

So, no more magazine but we can look forward to more made-for-tv movies on Fox Family, not to mention the possibility of “National Lampoon” labeled sweat pants.


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