MAD Magazine has hired its fifth editor in the entire 65 years of its existence. Bill Morrison, illustrator and co-founder of Bongo Comics — the publisher responsible for Simpsons and Futurama comics — will serve as executive editor of the DC Entertainment-owned satire publication.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, incumbent editor John Ficarra, who has worked with the magazine in a managerial capacity since 1984, will stick with the company to the end of the year, and serve as a consultant as the company moves from New York City to the DC Comics headquarters in Burbank, California.
Morrison will be responsible for spearheading the company as it rejigs itself in the age of heightened political satire, thanks to the likes of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Morrison will oversee the day-to-day operations of the publisher, leading the editorial staff of both MAD magazine and MAD books, in addition to managing the publisher’s annual schedule, reporting to Senior VP Editorial Strategy and Administration Hank Kanalz.
Kanalz wrote in a statement, “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.”
Created by Harvey Kurtzman and run for decades by Al Feldstein, MAD and its contributors — including Al Jaffee, Sergio Aragones, Peter Kuper and Tim Carvell — cemented the publisher as a go-to for cutting-edge humor and smart parody. Feldstein retired in 1984, passing the torch to Ficarra and Nick Meglin (who worked with the publisher until retirement in 2004).
DC Entertainment president Diane Nelson said in a statement, “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…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.”
At Bongo, Morrison served as editor of the publisher’s entire comic book line and was the company’s creative director. He also worked with Simpsons creator Matt Groening to develop early character designs for Futurama, in addition to serving as art director. He is the president of the National Cartoonists Society and is an Eisner Award-winner.
On his hiring, Morrison said, “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.”
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