Randall Enos on His NatLamp Days

The Caledonian Record, a newspaper based in Vermont, has posted a piece by cartoonist Randall Enos, who apparently does cartoons for them. Enos, you may know, was also a long-time contributor to National Lampoon, and did the long-running Funny Pages comic strip Chicken Gutz. In the piece, Enos tells how he came to work for the magazine and of the crazy stuff that went on.

I met Enos back in 2010 at the NYPL event for the launch of Rick Meyerowitz‘s book Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. Really sweet guy and one of my favorite NL contributors.

(Thanks to reader Logan Lee for the link.)

Mr. Cheeseface, We Never Knew You

Did you ever wonder about the dog that appeared on the all-time most famous cover of the National Lampoon? The one with the blurb, “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog“? Well, the guys at the Lampoon didn’t shoot him, but somebody did. The dog’s name was Mr. Cheeseface. You can find the whole sad tale, including where his strange name came from and how he made the cover of the National Lampoon, at Seven Days, as reported by Dan Boles. (Hat tip to Dan for letting me know about this.)

Robert Grossman, R.I.P.

Robert Grossman, the prolific and talented illustrator and caricaturist, died on March 18, 2018, at the age of 78. He did several covers and other pieces for the National Lampoon over the years, most famously the fold-out cover depicting Richard Nixon as Pinocchio for the August 1972 (The Miracle of Democracy) issue.

I actually met Grossman once. He sat next to me at the National Lampoon Event at the New York Public Library in 2010, the one publicizing the publication of Rick Meyerowitz’s book Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead. We talked a bit, and he said that he knew of my Lampoon website. He even remembered (when I brought it up) the time I hired him once when I was a magazine art director back in the ’80s to do an illustration of the Statue of Liberty with a punk hairdo.

At one point, he asked if I had any paper. I tore a page out of the notebook I had in my pocket and gave it to him. A minute later he handed it back. He had drawn a caricature of me! It’s a little bit rough because he didn’t have a good surface to support the paper, just the palm of his hand. Even so, it looks just like me.

Rest in peace, Bob.

Missing Page 84 Found, October 1974 (Pubescence) Issue

In the October 1974 (Pubescence) issue, the descriptive text about the cover on the Editorial page (page 17) reads:

COVER: The usual fuck-ups. Hendra, Kelly, and McConnachie thought the original model looked too old, so we—continued on page 84″

In every issue I’ve seen (until now), page 84 was a full-page ad. I always assumed this was an intentional joke. Considering that the gender of the cover model has been called into question almost since the issue hit the stands (alluded to on the Editorial page of the December 1974 issue), it’s not hard to imagine that it was done on purpose, just to mess with readers.

Except… there really was a page 84. Reader Jeff Goodman alerted me to a discussion on the CGC comic book collectors’ forum regarding the gender of the model on the cover. It’s kind of amazing that people are still discussing this after all these years. On the other hand, I’ve never been totally sure one way or the other myself.

Anyway, one of the participants (OtherEric) said that his copy did have the rest of the text—not an ad—and he even posted a scan of the rest of the cover description:

“—reshot with the very lovely young lady you see before you. Or would see if you were’t wasting your valuable time (and mine) reading this. Also, the Editors would like to thank the very lovely people who helped make this cover possible, including Michael Stevens of Superhair (hairstyling), Laura Singer and Marjorie (stylists), the Liberty Ice Cream Concern (43 W. 63rd, next door to The Ginger Man), Chris Callis (photographer), and Vincent Nasso (makeup).”

I joined the discussion and asked him to post a scan of the entire page, which he did (click on the image above to see it). Not only does it contain the rest of the cover description, it also includes an errata concerning the 1964 High School Yearbook parody and the rest of the Letters From the Editor column, which was also cut off with a “continued on page 84” slug, and a different half-page ad.

My guess is that the full page ad was either a last minute addition or had been accidentally left out of the issue and was a big enough deal that they stopped the press run to get it into the issue, dropping the original page 84, including a smaller ad. I used to work in the magazine business, and I can vouch that these things do sometimes happen. Considering the fact that it has taken so long to discover this fact, I would also guess that issues with the original page 84 are not common, which would mean that they made the change early in the print run.

Thanks to OtherEric and Jeff for their part in uncovering this missing bit of NatLamp history. I just feel bad for Robert Pakter.

Cullum Rogers’ Amazing Magazine Parody Site

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.

Lampoon Getting New Owners

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.

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.