While attending this year’s Comic-Con International I was able to sit down with an amazing Editor-in-Chief for a legendary publication, John Ficcara of Mad Magazine.
UTF: The first thing I want ask you is how did you become the Editor-in-Chief of Mad Magazine?
John Ficcara: Mostly incompetence on the part of management.
I was extremely lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I was the first person that the magazine hired in twenty-four years. For a long time it was a very closed shop and then one of the guys aged out. [Al] Feldstein retired at the end of ’84 and I became co-editor. It was Nick [Meglin] who actually pulled me out of what we lovingly called the slush pile, which was unsolicited manuscripts, and nurtured my career and recommended me. I really owe my success to him.
UTF: I have to say that on Unleash the Fanboy, we do have a history with Mad Magazine. Most of us grew up reading it, but in a modern world where a lot of stuff is going digital, how do you see the publication evolving?
John Ficcara: We’re constantly devolving.
We’re actually digital already. We have an app for the iPad and later this year we’re going to be on Android, too. If you get the print subscription, you get the digital subscription automatically for free along with it’s bells and whistles too. We also have a daily blog which is wonderful because it allows us to be a lot more timely with the humor that the magazine does. In a perfect world, we put a joke in the magazine and go to press today, it’s not going to be out for six to eight weeks by the time it’s printed and then distributed. This allows us to, if something happens, we’re right on it.
UTF: So what’s the process getting the skits, if you will, approved for publication?
John Ficcara: The easiest way is make us laugh. If something crosses my desk and I’m stopping to laugh at it, that’s a very good sign since I have the last word with what goes in the magazine. I have a terrific staff and we’re constantly on the lookout for new writers and artists. We read everything that comes in. It’s how I got into the magazine. It’s how a lot of the people who write for the magazine got into the magazine. We’re very respectful of the freelance process. I don’t know if there’s any one way, but if you’re asking me how to submit: send a short paragraph about your idea is and a couple of examples of how you would carry it through.
UTF: Mad Magazine, as a property has transitioned to television more than once. Do you see it perhaps evolving into other mediums? Maybe like a Hulu series or something?
John Ficcara: There’s a couple of good things I can’t talk about now but stay tuned. We’re not ready to break it but I think in the next couple of months you’ll certainly see it.
UTF: Well we can certainly look forward to those announcements.
I have one last question. We have lots of fanboys and fangirls that come to our website and they want to break into the entertainment industry. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom from your years of experience?
John Ficcara: I don’t know how to tell them to break into the industry but Rodney Dangerfield had an old expression, “The acts win out.” I think part of it is just showing up and being persistent. If you have talent and you really have the drive and ambition, I think ultimately you’ll probably succeed. You may not be the next Jack Nicholson or Woody Allen but you might end up doing something that you love and getting paid for it. Which is really all anybody can ask for.
I want to take the time to thank Mr. John Ficcara for chatting with me. It was a great pleasure to talk about Mad Magazine and remember if you want to support their shenanigans the best thing you can do is subscribe! And don’t forget to like their outstanding Facebook page.
So what did you think of the interview my fellow fanboys and fangirls?
Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!