Meglin, Nick 1935-
MEGLIN, Nick 1935-
PERSONAL: Born July 30, 1935, in Brooklyn, NY; married Lucille Guerriero (a medical secretary), December 28, 1956 (divorced, 1980); children: Diane Elizabeth, Christopher Allen. Education: Brooklyn Queens College (now Brooklyn College of the City University of New York); School of Visual Arts, B.F.A., 1976. Hobbies and other interests: Tennis, camping, theater.
ADDRESSES: office—Mad, 485 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Mad (magazine), New York, NY, editor, 1956—. Instructor at School of Visual Arts, New York, NY, beginning 1972. Military service: U.S. Army, illustrator, 1958-60.
MEMBER: American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Dramatists Guild, Society of Illustrators, Writers Guild, National Eagle Scout Association.
On-the-Spot Drawing, Watson-Guptill (New York, NY), 1969.
Fountain Pen Drawing, Grosset (New York, NY), 1973.
Superfan, illustrated by Jack Davis, New American Library (New York, NY), 1973.
The Art of Humorous Illustration, Watson-Guptill (New York, NY), 1973, updated edition published as Humorous Illustration: The Top Artists of Our Time Talk about Their Work, foreword by Federico Fellini, 2001.
Superfan . . . Again!, illustrated by Jack Davis, New American Library (New York, NY), 1974.
(Editor) Don Martin and Dick DeBartolo, "Mad's" Don Martin Steps Further Out, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1975.
Honor the Godfather, New American Library (New York, NY), 1976.
Mad Stew, illustrated by Anthony D'Adamo, Warner Paperback (New York, NY), 1977.
Rotten Rhymes and Other Crimes, illustrated by Al Jaffee, New American Library (New York, NY), 1978.
(Editor) Barry Siegel, "Mad" Clobbers the Classics, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1982.
A "Mad" Look at the Fifties, illustrated by George Woodbridge, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1985.
A "Mad" Look at the Sixties, illustrated by George Woodbridge, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1988.
(Editor, with Don Edwing) Bob Clarke, Spy vs. Spy: The Updated Files, #2, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1989.
(Editor) Mad's Creature Presentation, Warner (New York, NY), 1993.
(Editor, with John Ficarra) Mad about the Movies, Mad Books (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor, with John Ficarra) Mad about TV, Mad Books (New York, NY), 1999.
(With daughter, Diane Meglin) Drawing from Within: Unleashing Your Creative Potential, Warner (New York, NY), 1999.
(Editor, with John Ficarra) The Mad Bathroom Companion, Mad Books (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor, with John Ficarra) The Mad Bathroom Companion, Number Two, Mad Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with John Ficarra) The Mad Gross Book, Mad Books (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with John Ficarra) Mad about Super Heroes, Mad Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Also editor of Mad: The Half-Wit and Wisdom of Alfred E. Neuman.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A Broadway musical, film scripts, two books on drawing and illustration, a Mad encyclopedia.
SIDELIGHTS: Although his name is hardly a household word, Nick Meglin has exercised an enormous influence over popular culture over the last half century. Meglin began editing Mad magazine in the 1950s and continues to coedit the periodical today, in an era when Mad's antic forms of satire and parody have become pervasive forces in American humor. Meglin, himself an illustrator and writer, did not fore-see a lengthy stay at Mad when he began editing it in 1956. However, an almost unprecedented degree of editorial freedom and the opportunity to work with several generations of comic illustrators have kept him at the helm for decades.
Poking fun at America—its politics, entertainment, music, morals, and attitudes—has been the hallmark of Mad magazine since its inception. In the 1950s its broad satire was a novel, and daring, way to challenge authority. Now that this form of humor has become widely popular, Mad has managed to weather competition from television, computers, and stand-up comedy to continue its zany bashing of a nation's sacred cows. In an interview in Pop Culture magazine, Meglin said that while "trying to be funny on demand is not an easy thing," he has enjoyed working at Mad. "What has kept my interest and my excitement and my exuberance all these years is the people I'm dealing with. The freelancers are among the most talented, brilliant, fun people in the world. That's been my saving grace—I love these people and of course my staff. My partner, John Ficarra, and I really do have a much better time than I think you would find in a room full of accountants arguing about whether you carry the three or debit the five. I think I've been blessed with that kind of situation—that's what keeps it fun." As for the irreverent humor and cartooned sight gags, Meglin says they are devised with no particular eye toward the audience's age, educational level, or gender. He said: "You just hope somebody picks it up and reads it and laughs, then you consider yourself a success."
Although many of the books Meglin has written or edited have to do with Mad, some of them also present his more serious views as an illustrator. Drawing from Within: Unleashing Your Creative Potential, written with his daughter, Diane, encourages artists of all talent levels to express themselves through the visual arts. Humorous Illustration: The Top Artists of Our Time Talk about Their Work offers profiles of fourteen masters of cartoon humor, some of them well known for their regular contributions to Mad. Bill Radford in the Colorado Springs Gazette praised Humorous Illustration for its "insights into the artists' philosophies, styles and work habits."
As it enters the corporate era as part of the Time-Warner conglomerate, Mad has incorporated color and advertising to help boost its bottom line. According to its editors, however, the changes have not extended into the humorous intentions of the magazine; if anything, Mad has become edgier without resort to the gratuitous vocabulary and subject matter in other media. Meglin told Pop Culture magazine: "All magazines and books and newspapers are suffering because reading is getting to be a lost art. . . . So our competition today isn't another humor magazine, it never has been. The only magazine consistently funnier than us is The Congressional Record." He added that the market for collectibles, which includes vintage Mad issues, art work, and drawings, has enhanced the current viability of the periodical. "We are part of the culture," he concluded, "and that's a phenomenon we ourselves are amazed at."
Meglin once told CA: "I have always worked in areas and on subjects I have first had experience in—illustration, sports, humor, opera, and theater. I consider myself a writer who draws rather than an illustrator who writes, since my drawing is of a serious approach and much of my writing is in a lighter vein. I follow the films of [Federico] Fellini, the musicals of Stephen Sondheim, comics Robert Klein, Garry Shandling, and Jerry Seinfeld, composers Nino Rota and John Barry, and the field of American illustration in general."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Denver Business Journal, November 23, 2001, L. Wayne Hicks, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," p. 38A.
Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), July 8, 2001, Bill Radford, "Books Take You Back to the Drawing Board," p. LIFE2.
Library Journal, November 15, 1999, Daniel Lombardo, review of Drawing from Within: Unleashing Your Creative Potential, p. 68; September 1, 2002, Steve Raiteri, review of Mad about Super Heroes, p. 150.
Publishers Weekly, August 16, 1999, review of Drawing from Within, p. 75.
News Observer Online,http://www.newsobserver.com/ (April 3, 2003), author interview.
Pop Culture Web site,http://www.popcultmag.com/ (April 3, 2003), author interview.*