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The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

July 16, 2014
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Archie Comics

Every Wednesday, I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, Kickstarter, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. Seconds

By Bryan Lee O’Malley; colors by Nathan Fairbairn
Random House

Bryan Lee O’Malley’s highly anticipated follow up to Scott Pilgrim

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley is arguably the most anticipated graphic novel of the year. It's his first since completing the Scott Pilgrim series in 2010, which made him one of the most popular and influential cartoonists of the 2000s. O'Malley's bold, manga-influenced style has been much imitated in the past decade. His unique storytelling style blends magical realism with common video game tropes which he uses to tell relatable stories about young people and their daily lives.

In Seconds we meet 29-year-old Katie. She is a successful chef with her own restaurant whose life gets turned upside down. She gets a second chance in the form of a magic mushroom that has the ability to correct her mistakes. Eventually she figures, why not just keep eating mushrooms and fixing every little mistake until her life is perfect?

O’Malley has always deftly written about characters his own age. He did it for college graduates in his debut book, Lost at Sea, and then 20-somethings throughout the six-volume Scott Pilgrim series. Now in his 30s, he looks to explore the doubts felt by someone who has made it out of their 20s with both success and failures to contemplate.

Image courtesy of Random House

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2. The Shadow Hero

By Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
First Second Books

An origin story for the first Asian-American superhero

In 1944, a small publishing company called Rural Home hired Chinese-American artist Chu Hing to create their own superhero character. He came up with The Green Turtle — the first Asian American superhero. Through five issues of Blazing Comics, The Green Turtle fought the Japanese Imperial Army while exhibiting no apparent superpowers and was accompanied by a sidekick named Burma Boy and a goofy, turtle-like shadow.

In the back pages of the new graphic novel The Shadow Hero, writer Gene Luen Yang relays the history of this character and the forgotten artist who created him. According to rumors, the publishers decided against the The Green Turtle being Asian. Unwilling to give up on that, Hing always drew him with his back turned or face hidden so as never to reveal his features. The colorists were told to make his skin pink, presumably to assure readers that he was Caucasian, but they seemed to overcompensate for this and made him VERY pink.

Yang and artist Sonny Liew reimagine this lost character — now in the public domain — and attempt to explain all his aforementioned weird traits. In doing so they have created a wonderful comic about the Chinese immigrant experience told as a superhero origin story.

Hank Chu, the young man who will become The Green Turtle, is the son of a Chinese grocer whose wife becomes obsessed with American superheroes after one of them saves her life. Becoming a costumed hero seems like the ultimate form of assimilation to her and she attempts to stage “accidents” in hopes they will give her son superpowers. Hank is at first reluctant and thinks his mom is crazy, but when tragedy befalls the family, he suddenly has the motivation required for a true superhero origin.

Yang, who came on the scene with the graphic novel American Born Chinese and has continued to produce award-winning work like last year’s Boxers & Saints, is proving himself to be one of the best and most important comic creators of our time. He truly gets why these kinds of stories are inspiring and weaves a wonderful tale full of action, laughs, and heartbreak. It's probably the best superhero comic you will read this year.


Image courtesy of First Second

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3. Life With Archie #36

By Paul Kupperberg, Fernando Ruiz, Pat Kennedy, Tim Kennedy, Jack Morelli, Rosario Peña, Gary Martin, Bob Smith, and Jim Amash
Archie Comics

Yes, Archie dies in this issue. Yes, he's still alive in every other Archie comic.

In issue #36 of Life With Archie, Archie Andrews — one of the most popular comic book characters of all time — sacrifices his life to save his friend Kevin Keller from an assassin’s bullet. Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie Comics, has been elected to the US Senate, running on a gun control platform, and becomes the target of an assassin.

Killing off comic book characters for sales and publicity is a common event these days and somehow makes news each and every time. In recent years we’ve seen Spider-man, Batman, and the Human Torch “die” only to return a few months later. We’re about to go through the same thing this summer when Marvel "kills off" Wolverine. It’s not often we see this tactic used in non-superhero comics where the death can not be easily undone by plot devices like time travel, mystic ritual, or alien technology.

However, one device that Archie Comics has at their disposal is the fact that Life With Archie is a self-contained comic with a timeline that is separate from all other Archie comics. This is a series that takes place in an alternate future that shows us Archie’s life as an adult, married first to Veronica and then later to Betty. This will be the double-sized penultimate issue of the series with the final issue (#37) showing Archie's friends reflecting on his life and death.

It may seem a little odd to see an all-ages, light-hearted character like Archie killed off as a political statement, but, particularly since the introduction of Kevin Keller in 2010, Archie Comics have found some new life in their willingness to tackle topical and often controversial subject matter.

Here's a preview of the comic.

Images courtesy of Archie Comics

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4. Through The Woods

By Emily Carroll
Margaret K. McElderry Books

Believe it or not, this is the first book from critically-acclaimed cartoonist Emily Carroll

Emily Carroll is known to readers as a webcomic creator. Her beautifully drawn horror comics use the strengths of that medium with subtle animations and clever scrolling effects. Yet her true strengths as an artist and storyteller are by no means limited to a particular delivery mechanism. Her very first book, Through The Woods, proves this.

It’s hard to believe that a cartoonist as accomplished as Carroll hasn't published her own book until now. It's is even harder to believe that she has only been making comics for just the past four years. In that time she has released a number of haunting little webcomics (the most recent of which I talked about here) and various anthology contributions. Through the Woods is a collection of four brand new stories and one reprint of the 2010 webcomic His Face All Red which first brought Carroll to the comic world's attention.

You can read more about the book and see a number of preview pages on Zainab Akhtar’s excellent blog Comics & Cola.

Image courtesy of Margaret K. McElderry Books

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5. Zaya #1

By JD Morvan and Huang-Jia Wei 
Magnetic Press

A stunning sci-fi comic from a French writer and Chinese artist

Last week, Magnetic Press – a new publisher dedicated to bringing translated editions of European and Asian comics to English-language audiences – released the first issue of Zaya as a “digital-first” comic on Comixology. This release comes a month ahead of a 200-page hardcover collection of the entire three volume series that was first put out by French publisher Dargaud in 2012.

Zaya is written by French comics writer JD Morvan and illustrated by Chinese artist Huang Jia Wei. It's about a young woman who was once an assassin but quits to become a mother and an artist. When a biomechanics threat starts taking out other agents, Zaya must reluctantly return to the field.

Morvan has written a number of sci-fi comics over the years. Wei is a very young artist whose previous book was a comic he made while in art school. His work here is breathtaking in its intricacy and sense of explosive action.

You can preview and buy the first issue of Zaya here on Comixology.

Image courtesy of Magnetic Press

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This Week's Best Amazon Deals You Can Still Get
April 30, 2017
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As a recurring feature, we share some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. These items were the ones that were the most popular with our readers this week, and they’re still available.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers (including Amazon) and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

GADGETS, TOYS, AND MEDIA

Bluetooth Headphones, Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic, IPX7 Waterproof, HD Sound with Bass, Noise Cancelling, Secure Fit, Up to 9 Hours of Play for iPhone Android (Upgraded) for $29.99 (list price $169.99)

Portable Chargers RAVPower 16750mAh External Battery Pack 4.5A Dual USB Output External Phone Charger Battery Bank Power Bank (iSmart 2.0 Technology) for Nintendo Switch, iPhone 7, Galaxy S8 - Black for $27.99 (list price $99.99)

WizGear Universal Air Vent Magnetic Car Mount Holder with Fast Swift-Snap Technology for Smartphones and Mini Tablets, Black for $7.99 (list price $19.99)

Firstbuy Multi Device Bamboo Charging Station Original Electronics Charging Station & Organizer for iPad, iPhone,Tablets, Smartphones &Cords Organizer Stand&Other Gadgets,Strong Build of Eco Bamboo for $23.99 (list price $69.99)

Apple Watch Band, 42mm iWatch Band Strap Premium Vintage Genuine Leather Replacement Watchband with Secure Metal Clasp Buckle for Apple Watch Sport Edition (Black) for $20.99 (list price $28.99)

Syncwire iPhone Charger Lightning Cable 3.3ft -[Apple MFi Certified] Series - Sync & Charging Cord for iPhone 7 Plus 6S Plus 6 Plus SE 5S 5C 5, iPad 2 3 4 Mini Air Pro, iPod -White for $8.99 (list price $20.00)

VicTsing Shower Speaker, Wireless Waterproof Speaker with 5W Drive, Suction Cup, Buit-in Mic, Hands-Free Speakerphone - Army Green for $18.99 (list price $24.99)

LilGadgets CarBuddy Universal Headrest Tablet Mount (For 7"-11" devices such as iPad, Galaxy, Note, Fire, Nook, and Surface tablets) for $15.95 (list price $27.95)

Portable Chargers Intocircuit 11200mAh Power Banks 4.8A Dual USB Output Battery Pack External Battery Bank for Smartphones Tablets - iPhone 7 Plus / 7 / 6s / iPad, Bluetooh Speakers and more, Gray for $15.99 (list price $22.99)

iClever BoostCube 4.8A 24W Dual USB Travel Wall Charger with SmartID Technology, Foldable Plug, White for $10.99 (list price $29.99)

SoundBot SB510 HD Water Proof Bluetooth 3.0 Speaker, Mini Water Resistant Wireless Shower Speaker, Handsfree Portable Speakerphone with Built-in Mic for $14.95 (list price $20.16)

Anker PowerLine+ USB-C to USB 3.0 cable (6ft), High Durability, for USB Type-C Devices Including the new MacBook, ChromeBook Pixel, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nokia N1 Tablet, OnePlus 2 and More for $15.99 (list price $25.99)

Anker PowerCore+ mini, 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger (3rd Generation, Premium Aluminum Power Bank), One of the Most Compact External Batteries for $13.99 (list price $39.99)

Bluetooth Headphones, Hussar Magicbuds Best Wireless Sports Earphones with Mic, IPX7 Waterproof, HD Sound for $26.99 (list price $169.99)

iMuto 20000mAh Portable Charger Compact External Battery Power Pack Power Bank with Smart LED Digital Display and Smart Charge (Black) for $23.99 (list price $29.99)

Trianium Armband For iPhone 7/6/6S Plus, LG G6 G5, Galaxy s8 s7 s6 Edge, Note 5 (fits Otterbox Defender / Lifeproof case) ArmTrek Pro Sport Exercise Running Pouch Key Holder for $12.99 (list price $20.97)

SENSO Bluetooth Headphones Wireless Sports Earphones - w/ Mic, IPX7 Waterproof, HD Stereo Sweatproof Earbuds, for Gym Running Workout, 8 Hour Battery, Noise Cancelling Headsets for $37.97 (list price $169.99)

Anker PowerCore 10400 Portable Charger with PowerIQ for iPhone, iPad, Samsung Galaxy and More (Black) for $29.99 (list price $49.99)

Oliasports Fidget Cube Relieves Stress & Anxiety, Black for $2.50 (list price $29.00)

LEGO Classic Creative Supplement 10693 for $13.99 (list price $19.99)

CardNinja Ultra-slim Self Adhesive Credit Card Wallet for Smartphones, Black for $7.44 (list price $12.99)

KITCHEN

Sandwich Cutter Taidea Best Adorable Animals Pocket Bread Cutter, Hand Tools Sandwich Kit for $9.99 (list price $39.99)

Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill for $34.99 (list price $44.99)

Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Pressure Cooker, 6Qt/1000W for $99.99 

Plater Fast Defrosting Tray - Defrost Meat or Frozen Food Quickly Without Electricity, Microwave, Hot Water or Any Other Tools for $18.90 (list price $32.90)

Lodge L9OG3 Cast Iron Round Griddle, Pre-Seasoned, 10.5-inch for $14.29 (list price $24.00)

Lifewit Height Adjustable Pan Pot Organizer Rack, 5-Tier Kitchenware Cookware Holder for $24.99 (list price $49.99)

Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid Food Storage Container, BPA-Free Plastic, 6-Piece Set for $6.18

BlenderBottle Classic Loop Top Shaker Bottle, Clear/Green, 28-Ounce Loop Top for $6.99 (list price $7.99)

Modern Innovations 16 Inch Stainless Steel Magnetic Knife Bar for $16.95 (list price $29.99)

Yummy Sam Lid and Spoon Rest, Utensils Lid Holder in Silver for $8.99 (list price $10.19)

6 Reusable K-Cups - Refillable Stainless Mesh Coffee Filter Pod for Keurig 2.0 and 1.0 Machines by STYDDI for $9.99 (list price $16.99)

Meat Tenderizer By Checkered Chef. Best Hammer/Mallet Tool/Pounder For Tenderizing Steak,Beef And Poultry. Solid Metal Construction With Rubber Comfort Grip Handle. 100% Dishwasher Safe. for $10.87 (list price $19.95)

Fat Ninja Extra Large Roll Up Dish Drying Rack (19.8 x 14in) Over the Sink Stainless Steel Tier Drainer including Set of 2 Microfiber Kitchen Towels for $16.77 (list price $28.99)

Rubbermaid 17.3 Cup FreshWorks Produce Saver Food Storage Container, Large, Green for $11.24 (list price $16.99)

ISSIKI JAPAN Professional 8 Inch Chef's Knife, High Carbon Stainless Steel, Sharp Cutlery, Ergonomic Handlefor $29.99 (list price $125.00)

OXO Good Grips Nylon Potato Masher for Non-Stick Cookware for $6.99 (list price $9.59)

Norpro Honey/Syrup Dispenser for $15.99 (list price $34.35)

Corelle Livingware 12-1/4-Inch Serving Platter, Winter Frost White for $7.97 (list price $13.01)

Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set, 6 Piece for $18.95 (list price $24.95)

Cuisinart CIL22-30HR CastLite Non-Stick Cast Iron Fry Pan with Helper, 12-Inch, Red for $49.95 (list price $62.29)

Culina Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainers, Silver, Set of 3 for $7.99 (list price $12.99)

Top Rated Bellemain Cooling Rack - Baking Rack , Chef Quality 12 inch x 17 inch - Tight-Grid Design, Oven Safe, Fits Half Sheet Cookie Pan for $11.95 (list price $18.95)

Baker's Secret 1061483 10-by-16-Inch Nonstick Cooling Rack, Set of 2 for $6.00 (list price $19.99)

Prepworks by Progressive Berry Keeper for $7.99 (list price $9.49)

Prepworks by Progressive Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Keeper - 1.9 Quart for $9.96 (list price $11.99)

Oster TSSTTRJBG1 Jelly Bean 2-Slice Toaster, Grey for $29.99 (list price $34.99)

Prepworks by Progressive Lettuce Keeper - 4.7 Quart for $11.99 (list price $12.99)

Norpro Stainless Steel Commercial Potato Ricer for $27.84 (list price $43.99)

Stainless Steel Kitchen Funnel with Removable Strainer/Filter for Essential/Cooking Oils, Flask Funnel for Transferring of Liquid, Fluid, Dry Ingredients & Powder, 5- Inch,Silver - HOXHA for $9.98 (list price $23.68)

POPCO Silicone Microwave Popcorn Popper with Handles for $9.99 (list price $34.99)

VonShef 7- Egg Electric Cooker Stainless Steel with Poacher & Steamer Attachment for $19.94 (list price $34.99)

ChefLand 3-Compartment Microwave Safe Food Container with Lid/Divided Plate/Bento Box/Lunch Tray with Cover, Black, 10-Pack for $6.78 (list price $19.95)

DRAGONN Zester Grater Sharp Stainless Steel Blade with Black Handle, Safety Cover and Rubber Footings for $9.95 (list price $19.95)

Accuweight Digital Multifunction Food Meat Scale with LCD Display Perfect for Baking Kitchen Cooking, 11lb Capacity by 0.1oz, Tempered Glass surface, Black for $9.49 (list price $49.99)

Best Ice Cube Trays - 2 Large Silicone Pack - 16 Giant 2 Inch Ice Cubes Molds for $12.99 (list price $29.99)

Banana Hook - Ripen Bananas Naturally with Under Cabinet Banana Hanger / Banana Holder. Self-stick and Adheres Under Cabinets. for $6.00 (list price $11.99)

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The Original Hayden Autosoap - Premium Automatic Touchless Soap Dispenser - Fingerprint Resistant Brushed Stainless Steel - Hand Sanitiser compatible - (NEW Waterproof Base!) for $29.00 (list price $69.95)

Organize It All 2-Tier Shelf with Towel Bars (1753W-1) for $14.25 (list price $30.02)

Pregnancy Pillow, Full Body Maternity Pillow w/ Contoured U-Shape by Lavish Home, Back Support for $33.49 (list price $99.99)

AmazonBasics Wood Suit Hangers - 30 Pack, Natural for $20.82 (list price $23.99)

InnoGear IG-100ml-OD Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser for $29.28 (list price $35.43)

VonShef 8 Piece Set 4 x Placemats, 4 x Coasters, Natural Slate for $17.95 (list price $49.99)

Adjustable Heavy Duty Bed Sheet Grippers Holders Cover Suspenders (Set of 4) for $8.99 (list price $11.99)

Mellanni Bed Sheet Set - Brushed Microfiber 1800 Bedding - Wrinkle, Fade, Stain Resistant - Hypoallergenic - 4 Piece (Cal King, White) for $32.70 (list price $59.99)

VonHaus 600W 2-in-1 Corded Upright Stick & Handheld Vacuum Cleaner with HEPA Filtration - Includes Crevice Tool & Brush Accessories for $44.95 (list price $79.99)

AmazonBasics Microfiber Sheet Set - Queen, Dark Grey for $16.98 (list price $19.99)

GORILLA GRIP Rectangle (35-Inch-by-16-Inch) Non-Slip Machine Washable Bath Mat, Blue for $12.99 (list price $29.99)

AcuRite 02081M Weather Station with Jumbo Display & Atomic Clock for $40.01 (list price $49.99)

Ziraki Memory Foam Lumbar Cushion - Premium Lumbar Lower Back Pain Lumbar Pillow, Protect and Soothe Your Back - Improve Your Posture - Soft & Firm Balanced Lumbar Support Pillow for $15.95 (list price $29.99)

Equinox International Queen/Standard Size 17 X 25-Inches Shredded Memory Foam Pillow with Removable Bamboo Soft Pillow Case for $15.95 (list price $39.99)

Royal Classic Kitchen Towels, 15-Pack, 100% Natural Cotton, 14 x 25 inches (15 Pack) for $13.97 (list price $29.99)

HOPDAY Wash Bags, Delicates Mesh laundry Bags, Super Premium Quality Bra lingerie Protection Washing Drying Bag with Rust Proof Flow Zipper, Set of 6 (3 Medium & 3 Large)-Black & White for $9.89 (list price $19.99)

LiBa Mildew Resistant Anti-Bacterial PEVA 8G Shower Curtain Liner, 72x72 Clear - Non Toxic, Eco-Friendly, No Chemical Odor, Rust Proof Grommets for $10.99 (list price $29.99)

Habor Digital Hygrometer Thermometer Indoor Humidity Monitor with Temperature Gauge Humidity Meter for $10.99 (list price $17.99)

Whitmor 6779-3044 Double Rod Freestanding Closet with Steel and Resin Frame, 45.2 by 68-Inch, Silver for $40.16 (list price $47.99)

Lysol Disinfecting Wipes Value Pack, Lemon & Lime Blossom, 240 Wipes (3 Packs of 80 Wipes) for $8.97 (list price $13.99)

NMR 9087 Pink Floyd Dark Side Decorative Poster for $5.37 (list price $8.95)

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

Nerdwax Stop Slipping Glasses as Seen on Shark Tank for $10.99 (list price $14.99)

Doctor's Best High Absorption Magnesium Dietary Supplement, 200 mg per 2 tablets, 240 Tablets for $15.37 (list price $29.99)

Bvlgari By Bvlgari For Men Eau-de-toilette Spray, 3.4 Ounce for $38.77 (list price $88.00)

Colgate Wisp Portable Mini-Brush Max Fresh, Peppermint, 24 Count for $3.41 (list price $7.99)

NIVEA Smooth Daily Moisture Body Lotion 16.9 Fluid Ounce for $4.99 (list price $7.99)

Gardinesca Beard Oil for $12.99 (list price $31.99)

Foot Soak with Tea Tree Oil and Epsom Salt - 20 oz - Tea Tree Essential Oils Foot Bath for $14.95 (list price $21.95)

"Touch Me" Dry Skin Body Brush - Natural Bristle for $6.99 (list price $14.99)

ArtNaturals Aromatherapy Top 8 Essential Oils, 100% Pure of The Highest Quality, Therapeutic Grade for $16.95 (list price $20.00)

Daily Power Scrub Facial Cleanser For Men - 8 OZ - Face Wash + Energizing Toner + Exfoliating Scrub All-In-One - Natural & Certified Organic Ingredients for $24.95 (list price $39.00)

Arabica Coffee Scrub 15 oz, Anjou Body Scrub with Honey, Sea Salt, VB, VE for $8.99 (list price $35.99)

Gillette Fusion5 ProGlide Men’s Razor Blades 8 Refills - Packaging May Vary, Mens Razors / Blades for $29.97 (list price $35.71)

Active Wow Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder Natural for $24.99 (list price $29.99)

Bed Head Deep Waver for $19.90 (list price $27.99)

Maybelline Baby Lips Moisturizing Lip Balm, Cherry Me, 0.15 Ounce for $2.79 (list price $4.49)

Gillette Series 3X Action Shave Gel, Sensitive, 7 Ounce (Pack of 6) for $12.48 (list price $23.94)

Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrip Teeth Whitening Kit, Glamorous White, 14 Treatments - Packaging May Vary for $34.40 (list price $44.99)

Philips Norelco Bodygroom Series 7100, BG2040 for $59.95 (list price $69.99)

Tweezerman LTD Stainless Steel Mini Slant Tweezer (Colors May Vary) for $9.19 (list price $14.00)

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Exfoliating Daily Scrub, 5 Oz for $4.78 (list price $7.69)

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge (2 sponges in each pack) for $8.24 (list price $10.99)

GNC Mega Men Energy & Metabolism Tablets, 90 Count for $9.99 (list price $22.99)

Dial Antibacterial Deodorant Bar Soap, White, 4 Ounce Bars, 10 Count (Pack of 3) for $14.64 (list price $18.93)

Nexcare Absolute Waterproof First Aid Tape, 1-Inch x 5-Yard Roll (Pack of 6) for $20.28 (list price $28.54)

BESTOPE Blackhead Remover Pimple Comedone Extractor Tool Best Acne Removal Kit for $9.99 (list price $19.99)

OFFICE, SCHOOL, AND CRAFTS

Honey-Can-Do TBL-03539 Portable Laptop Lap Desk with Handle, Blue, 23 L x 16 W x 2.5 H for $16.24 (list price $26.99)

MagniViz Magnifying Glass with Light and Stand - Handheld or Hands Free LED Lighted Magnifier (3x) - Bonus Cloth for $8.99 (list price $19.99)

Kate Spade New York "Let's Do Lunch" Business Card Holder for $19.00 (list price $20.00)

SUDEE STILE Colored Pencils 120 Unique Colors (No Duplicates) Art Drawing Colored Pencils Set with Case with Sharpener for $23.99 (list price $95.96)

ALEX Toys Little Hands Ready Set Paste for $6.49 (list price $12.00)

Officemate Designer Paper Clip Dispenser with Heavy Duty Magnet, Clear (93695) for $9.45 (list price $12.18)

ALEX Toys DIY Wear So Many Headbands, 10 headbands for $13.54 (list price $29.50)

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Warner Bros., IStock
History
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When the FBI Went After Mad Magazine
April 29, 2017
Original image
Warner Bros., IStock

In a memo dated November 30, 1957, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as “A. Jones” raised an issue of critical importance: "Several complaints to the Bureau have been made concerning the 'Mad' comic book [sic], which at one time presented the horror of war to readers."

Attached to the document were pages taken from a recent issue of Mad that featured a tongue-in-cheek game about draft dodging. Players who earned such status were advised to write to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and request a membership card certifying themselves as a “full-fledged draft dodger.” At least three readers, the agent reported, did exactly that.

Mad, of course, was the wildly popular satirical magazine that was reaching upwards of a million readers every other month. Published by William Gaines, who had already gotten into some trouble with Congress when he was called to testify about his gruesome horror comics in 1954, Mad lampooned everyone and everything. But in name-checking the notoriously humorless Hoover, Gaines had invited the wrong kind of attention.

The memo got several facts incorrect: Mad had switched from a comic book to a magazine format in 1955, and it was Gaines’ E.C. Comics that had “presented the horror of war” in other titles. Despite getting these crucial pieces of information wrong, Jones didn’t hesitate to editorialize: "It is also of interest to note that…it is rather unfunny.”

The agent recommended the Bureau’s New York offices “make contact” with Mad’s headquarters to “advise them of our displeasure” and to make sure “that there be no repetition of such misuse of the Director’s name.”

Less than a week later, the Feds entered the hallowed hallways patrolled by Alfred E. Neuman. Their New York office would later report to Hoover directly that they had met with John Putnam, the magazine’s art director. (Conveniently, Gaines was not in that day.) Putnam told the agents he regretted the magazine using Hoover’s name and that nothing malicious was intended:

Putnam said that the use of the membership card and the name and address of the Director at the end of the game was referred to in their business as a 'gag' or 'kicker' in the same way that a comedian like Bob Hope or Milton Berle might use it.

Putnam swore that Mad would never again take Hoover’s name in vain; Gaines sent off a letter of sincere apology to the Director.

The Smoking Gun

Just two years later, in January 1960, Agent A. Jones was forced to file a second notice about the shenanigans at Mad. A recent issue had made not one, but two derogatory mentions of Hoover, including one in which he is blatantly and disrespectfully portrayed as being associated with a vacuum cleaner, “The Honorable J. Edgar Electrolux”:  

Obviously, Gaines was insincere in this promise…and has again placed the Director in a position of ridicule…it is felt we should contact Gaines…and firmly and severely admonish them concerning our displeasure…

It was by now clear Mad was not only polluting young minds, but that Gaines had absolutely no regard for the honorable Hoover’s position.

In June 1961, the FBI’s worst fears had been realized. Detailing an investigation into a Seattle-area extortion attempt led to the following:

Investigation … resulted in gaining admissions from the victim’s 12-year-old son and an 11-year-old companion that they had gotten the idea of preparing an extortion letter after reading the June issue of 'Mad' magazine.   

Working in concert with the Buffalo field office, the FBI determined another letter had been sent by a young boy demanding money in the style of a recent issue’s extortion advice. And there was a third under review that was sent to the agent of some professional wrestlers.

Mad was quickly becoming the scourge of the federal government. The FBI suggested the magazine be brought to the attention of the Attorney General for “instructing [readers] to deliberately violate the Federal Law.” They tried reaching out to Gaines, who was on vacation. (Time and again, Gaines simply not being in the office when called upon seemed to confound the FBI.)

Agent A. Jones, having exhausted all attempts to reason with these irresponsible anarchists, filed one last memo:

Despite assurances, they have continued to publish slurring remarks about the Bureau. In view of this situation, it was deemed useless to protest all such irresponsible remarks to a magazine of this poor judgment and capriciousness … we will have to wait and see if our action will result in increased discretion by this publication.

Poor A. Jones was unable to put an end to Mad’s reign of terror. But the magazine redeemed itself somewhat. In the 1970s, when the Bureau was trying to suppress the influence of the Ku Klux Klan, an agent suggested they copy and distribute a sticker from the magazine that read, “Support Mental Illness—Join the Klan!”

Hoover said no.

Additional Sources:
The Smoking Gun.

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