For only the fifth time in its 65-year storied history, MAD Magazine is getting a new editor.
Bill Morrison, the illustrator who co-created Bongo Comics with The Simpsons creator Matt Groening, has been named the executive editor of DC Entertainment’s influential humor and satire publication.
The current editor, John Ficarra, who has been running and co-running the magazine since 1984, will remain with MAD through year’s end, serving as a consultant to assist with a transition that will see the company move from New York to the DC headquarters in Burbank, Calif.
Morrison is tasked with re-rejigging the magazine and humor brand in an era where satire and absurdities are prevalent on cable channels with shows such as TBS' Full Frontal With Samantha Bee and HBO's Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, websites such as Funny or Die, and on social media.
On a more direct level, he will direct the day-to-day operations of the magazine, oversee the MAD editorial staff for both MAD magazine and MAD books, as well as manage the development and implementation of the annual publishing schedule, while reporting to Hank Kanalz, senior vp editorial strategy and administration.
“The combination of his pedigree as an editor, writer and artist and his crazy sense of humor makes him the ideal person going forward to maintain MAD magazine’s leading-edge position when it comes to what’s funny in the world today,” said Kanalz in a statement.
MAD, created by Harvey Kurtzman, was run for decades by Al Feldstein, who — along with contributors Al Jaffee, Sergio Aragones, Peter Kuper and Tim Carvell — made it one of the places to go for cutting-edge humor with its iconic TV and movie parodies and features such as Spy vs Spy, The Fold-in, and A MAD Look At…. When Feldstein retired in 1984, Ficarra became the editor with Nick Meglin, and then oversaw the magazine solo when Meglin retired in 2004.
“The passion and hard work from our MAD colleagues in New York has been instrumental in preserving the enduring legacy of MAD magazine, and for that we are extremely grateful,” said DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson. “I’d especially like to thank John Ficarra and his team for the countless laughs and their unwavering commitment to the company, as well for remaining onboard during the transition of the MAD operations to the west coast. I have the utmost confidence that Bill, together with the editorial team in Burbank, will continue MAD’s legacy of humor and subversion as only MAD can.”
Morrison was an illustrator at Disney and for The Simpsons. For Bongo, he served as the company’s creative director and also edited its entire comic book line. Morrison worked with Groening for the small screen as well, providing early character designs for the TV show Futurama and serving as the series’ art director.
Morrison, also the current president of the National Cartoonists Society, won an Eisner Award for drawing the first issue of The Simpsons comic and is a four-time nominee for his own comic, Roswell, Little Green Man.
Said Morrison: “I don’t know anyone who loves and respects MAD as much as I do. I’ll definitely have my work cut out for me, but I’m dedicated to upholding the high standards of absurd and irreverent humor that the public has come to expect from MAD. I’ve been asked if I will continue to include artist Al Jaffee in the magazine; as soon as I find out who he is, I’ll let everyone know.”