Reader Cullum Rogers wrote to me recently to let me know about a project he’s been working on for about a year: A website devoted to magazine parodies called, straightforwardly enough, Magazine Parody. It doesn’t get much better or nerdier than this. Magazine parodies have been around for a long time—200 years, according to Rogers. The Harvard Lampoon famously has been doing them since the 1870s. National Lampoon did its share, too, and Rogers most recent posts include an exhaustive A-Z index and an overview dividing them into four types: inventions, genre spoofs, mutations and plain ol’ parodies. The site goes way beyond the Lampoon, but I’m sure many readers of this site will happily lose themselves in it the way I did.
How did I not know about this sooner? I knew it was in the works, but I completely missed that the trailer for A Futile and Stupid Gesture hit two weeks ago. Looks like it’s going to be great! Tip ’o the hat to reader Shervin N. for letting me know. More info at Netflix.
Remember that item I just posted yesterday about the article in Vanity Fair chronicling the sad state of National Lampoon over the last two decades or so? Tipster Logan Lee is back with more news, and this time it can’t wait: National Lampoon, Inc. is under new ownership, purchased by PalmStar Media for nearly $12 million. You can read the whole story here.
Wow. Did not see that coming. At the same time, it seems unsurprising. Sounds like they are mainly interested in movies, and I suppose that could be good. Hard to do any worse than the folks who have been running it for the last two or three decades. Presumably, for the kind of money they paid, they are serious about making a go of it.
Best of luck to them.
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.
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.
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 NationalLampoon.com 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 NationalLampoon.com.
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.
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!
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.