MAD Magazine Gives an Exclusive Spy’s Eye View of TV Issue

An exclusive preview of "MAD Screens TV" catches Spy vs Spy in a video camera booby trap.

MAD Magazine is taking on the small screen in their upcoming MAD Issue #12, “MAD Screens TV,” and – SPOILER ALERT – the magazine spoofs all comers. From nostalgic parodies of classic sit-com M*A*S*H and educational series Sesame Street to sendups of contemporary programming, like RuPaul’s Drag Race shows, America’s longest-running humor magazine finds reasons to change the channel.

The usual gang of idiots may be comic masterminds, but they are no masters of espionage. They leaked an exclusive preview of the new Spy vs. Spy comic strip. Written and illustrated by Peter Kuper, the 2-page comic strip follows Black Spy and White Spy as they play with their new, probably-government-issued, Acme TV electronic eye surveillance equipment toys. But they are not programming. They use video camera booby traps to go toe-to-toe in a cat-and-mouse game.

You never know who’s side is winning with these two barely-undercover operatives. Just when you think you’ve figured out the tricks they’re hiding up their sleeves, they go sleeveless.

You can spy on it yourself, exclusively, here:

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Spy vs Spy debuted in January 1961 in the Mad #60 issue. The Cold War parody was created by Cuban expatriate Antonio Prohías. He had been a prolific cartoonist known for political satire before he fled to America on May 1, 1960, three days before Fidel Castro nationalized the Cuban free press. Prohías, who was the president of the Cuban Cartoonists Association, published anti-Batista political cartoons at El Mundo before Castro. He set his sights on Fidel’s Government when he took power and was accused of working for the CIA. 

read more: Mad Magazine Highlights Dumbest People and Events of 2019

Prohías died on Feb. 24, 1998. Alternative comics artist Peter Kuper, who founded the left-wing comics anthology magazine World War 3 Illustrated in 1979, has been contributing Spy Vs Spy strips since 1997.

Last July, rumors about MAD‘s demise were running rampant, but DC continues to publish issues of the magazine bimonthly. Sure, they mix vintage material with new content, but they always have. They repurposed their 1950s magazines on the inside of their 70s clip-show-like reprint issues and called them “Special.”

“February’s TV-themed issue is packed with new, original content and a wide variety of vintage MAD favorites (because so many boobs have been on the tube),” the advance press promises. MAD “continues to skewer everything pop culture, and will surely make the whole family laugh…while still managing to piss off some folks.”

read more: MAD Magazine Profiled President Trump

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The new issue also includes “Boob Tube Mash-Ups We Can’t Wait to See,” with artwork from Kerry Callen and graphs from Brockton McKinney, which imagines crossovers like Black-ish Mirror and BoJack Mindhunter.  “That’s Advertainment” gives Uber and Postmates a streaming service. “A MAD look at TV,” by Sergio Aragones, shows why we should always check for cameras before picking our noses. “Meanwhile,” by Ian Boothby and Pia Guerra, gives the afterlife an artistic spin. A retro “Lighter Side of” reminds us how television sets have always been a danger to us. 

The issue also shows us how television scripts are born and gives useful tips on how to best spend commercial breaks.

MAD Issue #12 will be available to subscribers and comic book retailers on Feb. 19.

Culture Editor Tony Sokol cut his teeth on the wire services and also wrote and produced New York City’s Vampyr Theatre and the rock opera AssassiNation: We Killed JFKRead more of his work here or find him on Twitter @tsokol.