National Lampoon Magazine: Relevant Irreverence

The Visual Arts Library recently acquired an (almost[1]) full run of National Lampoon Magazine. Much can be said about this magazine that originally was spun off the Harvard Lampoon. From my nerdy consumer point of view, what really draws me to this publication is their incredible enthusiasm and attention to detail. Every page of every issue (at least in their heyday: see the irreverent–there’s that word again–1970’s) is crammed with creativity, artful considerations, and in most instances, meaningful audacity. The table of contents and editorial page from the June 1974 issue:

Most of the issues are themed. This one is their “Rainy Day Sunday Funbook Issue” which apparently didn’t reached the pictured rained-in kid soon enough. One of their favorite satirical devices seems to be confusing horror with comedy; both the blood and guts and social varieties. Many of the magazines have embedded publications in them that parody other actual publications, such as this one that is supposed to have been put out by the state of Mississippi Bar Association featuring articles on “Closing Those Loopholes in Mississippi Lynch Law” and “No-Fault Rape–New Concepts to Protect Our Menfolk:”

Civil Rights and Vietnam era politics proliferate the pages, along with heaping sides of boob and toilet humor.

The list of contributing writers, illustrators, and cartoonist involved with this influential comedy magazine are chronicled in the recent publication Drunk stoned brilliant dead : the writers and artists who made the National lampoon insanely great by Rick Meyerowitz (who was closely associated with the magazine from the beginning) which will soon be available in the Visual Arts Library.


PN4900.N324 M49 2010

Here is a short brag list of artists and writers: John Hughes, Michael O’Donoghue, Neal Adams, Frank Frazetta, Russ Heath,  Bobby London, Shary Flenniken, and Edward Gorey.

Late last year the New York Public had an event in conjunction with the publication of the book: LIVE from the NYPL: AN EVENING WITH THE NATIONAL LAMPOON TO MAKE THE LIONS ROAR WITH LAUGHTER (there is an audio recording of the event if you follow the link).

And lastly, Bill Scheft ,when reviewing Meyerowitz’s book for the NY Times , credited National Lampoon Magazine for spawning ““Saturday Night Live”; “The Simpsons” and their spawn; all of late night; The Onion; and two generations who have no idea they’ve been so thoroughly influenced. ” Not bad.



[1]We are missing two issues from 1984. Also, our run ends in 1992, but only one issue was released in 1993, five in 1994, and three in 1995. For the last three years of its existence, the magazine was published only once annually until it died for good in November 1998.

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Posted on March 2, 2011, in Cartooning, Illustration, Periodicals and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Oh God. Have not seen these pages in many years. All my old work. Yes, we paid a lot of attention to detail. Ho I argued with Doug over the cover of the rainy day sunday funbook. I wanted the contents page shown above to be the cover. he preferred the Edward Gorey cover. He won.
    Thnaks for the walk down memory lane! Peter

  2. Wow, Peter, thanks for the comment! I must admit, having one of the creators of this wonderful publication find my paltry little blog post certainly makes me self-conscious. Well anyway, I am a fan. All best and Cheers!

    • Peter Kleinman

      My pleasure. You are basically showing my youthful portfolio. I look back now and cringe at some of the visual choices I made. But others hold up fairly well. I cannot thank you enough for showing this stuff. If you need any more old stuff let me know! Very refreshing to see, and quite different from my work for Sekani, Corbis, The Final Edition, and Leviton.

  3. Peter Kleinman

    Not to mention all those years at Esquire and Heavy Metal Magazines!

  4. “The table of contents and editorial page from the June 1974 issue…”
    Actually, they’re from the June 1975 issue. The “1974” on the cover of the Rainy Day Fun issue was a typo. These mainly went out to subscribers. The mistake was caught, and “1975” versions were then printed.

  5. National Lampoon Forever! Simply the funniest magazine ever published and an unparalleled pioneer of authentic American humor. All of these magazines can now be viewed online in the internet archive. Start here – https://archive.org/details/NationalLampoon1970_04

  1. Pingback: National Lampoon Magazine: Relevant Irreverence | SVA Library Blog

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