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Sunday, 26 May 2013

AFICIONADO CLASSIC REVIEW: 'MAD ABOUT 'STAR WARS''



MAD ABOUT "STAR WARS"-THIRTY YEARS OF CLASSIC PARODIES

Published by BALLANTINE BOOKS/DEL REY -2007

Written by Jonathan Bresman

Reviewed by Scott Weller

Though MAD MAGAZINE had become quite a national institution in the US, and had a highly respectable cult following in Europe, I was not previously aware of this brilliant comedy/film and TV parody magazine until just after the release of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, when my older brother, then having just started to work in his new job, and knowing my ever growing love (or madness?) for STAR WARS, came home one day and gave me some black and white photo stat pages from the magazine, whose latest issue had contained an all-out assault on its sequel. Known as STAR BORES: THE EMPIRE STRIKES OUT, I immediately found it hilarious-the drawings, by the legendary Mort Druckler (who, I believe, worked for fan George Lucas on the poster for AMERICAN GRAFFITI), were caricatures and yet so much like their on-screen counterparts-more so than any of the MARVEL comic likenesses I had been reading for the last few years (and a company who didn’t have permission to use the real actors faces-amazingly, MAD seemingly never even worried about things like that- such was its status as a magazine, anyone who was/is anyone loves to be satirized in it!). The piss-take scripting equally had me in hysterics-so much so that I was constantly showing the eight or nine stapled pages of the goof-ball spoof to my friends and family and reciting some of it’s one liners. I immediately took an instant liking to the adventures of Lube Skystalker, Oldie-Von Moldie, Ham Yoyo, Princess Laidup, and others you’ll have to discover yourself if you’re not aware of them, and began to look for MAD soon after- my obsession with its STAR WARS/STAR BORES related spoofs had taken off.

Now, having been published to celebrate thirty years of the Saga and their un-ceasing spoofing of it (whether LUCASFILM wants it or not), a new compilation book hits the stand. And what a terrific all-inspiring piece of hilarity it is too. From the many reproductions of all the old and new classic STAR BORES lampoons, stand outs include the much loved STAR WARS musical sketch, the EMPIRE STRIKES OUT and RE-HASH OF THE JETI. Though the Prequel comic strips aren’t quite so funny, THE PHANTOM MENACE (now known as STAR BORES-EPIC LOAD I: THE FANDUMB MEGAMESS) is the best of the three-and MAD are really cruel towards it. In a fun way, of course. Not in a burn JAR JAR and the Gungan City to the ground kinda way!

George Lucas gets his essential purchase!

Alongside the comic strip spoofs, there’s also the other stuff from “The Usual Gang of Idiots!,” including the much loved SPY VS SPY pages, numerous ingenious fold-in sections, and one off farcial spreads that get close to the knuckle and are sooo funny-including the 2005 A DAY IN THE LIFE OF GEORGE LUCAS (it’s merciless but my belly ached at times!), THE JEDI BUNCH (“Here’s the story of a sexy girl queen…”) and STAR WARS PLAYSETS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED (love Yoda’s Swingin’ Pad!). And let’s not forget the cover reproductions involving little Alfred in all his cheeky appearances (I swear that there is a Ewok that looks just like him in JEDI!! Co-incidence?). Only one little snag-whilst most of the classic STAR WARS covers have been reproduced, a lot of them are American based-it would have been nice to have seen more of the European versions, some of which were different, especially the German covers. But this really is a tiny little niggle when this publication is so comprehensive in its madness.

Adding further fun are some excellent sidebar notes, not only from MADs creative talent who worked on the strips/slice of life observations over the years, but also from members of the STAR WARS cast and crew themselves, who deliver some juicy real life comedy moments linked to the behind the scenes creation/filming and afterwards of the Saga. There was quite a few things in those notes that I didn’t know previously, a fair few from a certain Mister Anthony Daniels (whose service as an ambassador to STAR WARS seems to have given some of the best memories of all time regarding the Saga), and from MAD editor, Jonathan Bresman, who, whilst possessing a charmingly biting style perfect for MAD magazine, actually did work for LUCASFILM for a few years. His real-life joke/comment/incident (!) with George Lucas, however, didn’t pan out too well whilst he was there, and is best read in the book itself-it’s classic! As is LUCASFILM’s attempts to stop MAD’s 1980 EMPIRE parody, unaware that Lucas himself had read the issue and loved it!

And talking of Mister Lucas, the books comes with a foreword from the man himself, who, despite still living in fear with THE HOLIDAY SPECIAL, is clearly not afraid to be satirized by the best of the best in the world of comedy-and MAD MAGAZINE is certainly at the top of their game here. Lucas clearly enjoys the worldwide humour the comic team has brought- not only to him but globally to its readers/STAR WARS fan base as well.

Nicely printed and easy on the eye with it's design, this MAD Collection is well worth the price. It can still be purchased at reasonable prices on AMAZON and PLAY.COM, too.

AFICIONADO RATING: More madness and 'STAR BORES'! 4 out of 5

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