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What, me retire?

Frank Jacobs continues his 40-plus-year career writing satire for MAD Magazine.

February 18, 2009|By Joyce Rudolph

Frank Jacobs is the first to admit that his parodies of pop culture found in MAD Magazine are more familiar than his name, but that doesn’t stunt his prolific creativity.

“I’m the least-known writer of hysterical light verse in the United States,” the Burbank resident said.

He just submitted a comic piece for the humor magazine’s 500th edition coming out in April, and there is no end of that career in sight, he said.

When he began writing for the magazine in the early 1960s, he was one of seven people writing 90% of the material.


Just out of the Army, where he wrote for the newspaper Pacific Stars and Stripes, Jacobs landed a job in public relations. But boredom set in, as he wasn’t as busy as he was at the newspaper, he said.

And then he picked up an issue of MAD Magazine.

“The first copy I sent they snapped up and they kept picking them up,” he said. “I was on a roll for years, and I’ve been working for them since the early 1960s.”

At the time, it was a 48-page magazine coming out eight times a year.

“My top year, I sold 60 pages in one year, so you get an idea of the roll I was on,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs had an eye for the English language as opposed to those who have an ear for it, former Editor Nick Meglin said.

“Neil Simon, the brilliant humorist, has an ear for the language that makes him great with dialogue and interplay with people, where in the written word, Frank has an eye for that,” Meglin said. “He emerged in his marvelous unsurpassed talent of parody and satire of poems and lyrics.”

In addition to writing for the magazine, Jacobs wrote 13 MAD paperbacks — three dealing with sports titled “Mad About Sports.”

One book featured tombstones written for fictitious sports heroes — all in verse. An example was one verse for a tennis player, “Poncho Epstein 1952-1975 — jumps the net with delight; one foot cleared; one not quite.” And for a bowler, “Big Al Busby 1937 to 1972 — hits the pins; made them fall; with his hands still in the ball.

“They were fun to do,” he said.

The writing and pictures in MAD Magazine are satirical in nature, with parodies intermixed with slapstick humor. When it began there was an appetite for humor and satire and parody presented in a way that was easily digested, he said.

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