Are you a Maniac?


By Shawn Robare

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been sharing some fun stuff from the pages of the obscure Scholastic publication Maniac Magazine.  This week I thought I’d go ahead and give an overview of what this periodical was like.  If I had to pin it down I’d say that Maniac was the high school variation of magazines like Hot Dog and Dynamite, centering a bit more on music and the MTV-influenced pop culture of the 80s…

Who was the magazine aimed at specifically?  Well, take a gander at this page from the 1st issue to get an idea of who the publishers deemed a Maniac…

Sigh, if only the writers had a little bit more foresight this list would have been slightly different.  Mr. Rogers is indeed a maniac in my book, and Eddie Murphy?   Well, lets just say that back in 1984 when this was published, no one would have seen the Post-Beverly-Hill-Copacalyptic career path of the once Golden Child comedian.  Even so, I think it’s kind of interesting how the guys behind the magazine were trying to point teens towards some cool folks that might be beyond their radar (with a mention thrown towards Abbott & Costello, and in a later bit towards Monty Python, Rocky Horror, and Chuck Berry.)

The magazine was overseen by R. L. Stine, who was apparently one of the lead creative guys at Scholastic back in the day…

Maniac was basically a teen-i-fied amalgamation between Saturday Night live, National Lampoon & MAD magazines, as well as stuff like Topps Wacky Packages.  In fact you can really get a feel for their influence in the various product parodies peppered throughout each issue.  My favorite is the ad for Coco-Birds.  There’s just something so deadpan about the model in that first photo that it reminds me of the nonsensical humor of shows like Home Movies or Dr. Katz…

  

   

There were also TV and film spoofs in the tradition of Cracked and MAD magazine.   The below Splash parody was done by the awesome Sam Vivano and R. L. Stine.  Vivano’s Eugene Levy drawings are so spot on…

  

   

There were also interviews, like the below piece with Molly Ringwald…

   

…and articles about stuff that’s really important to teens, like hair make-overs.  In this case, I’m voting for the before pictures personally…

  

Each issue also had a couple pages of gag classified ads, a space for a Dear Abby like column, some strip comics, stickers, and even some continuing teen fiction.  I’ve managed to track down five issues (out of six I know that exist)…

  

  

I’m not sure how many teens would get into a magazine like this today seeing as how kids seems to grow up so fast these days (jesus, did I just type that?!?), but I’d like to think that there’s still a place for in the world for a magazine like Maniac.  I’m going to close this out with another set of caricatures by the wonderful Sam Vivano…

  • Jason

    Thank you! I’ve been looking for these issues for a long time! I believe I owned every issue, but I cut them up and made collages and stuff. I’d love to own a copy, or at least have .pdfs of them. Thanks for posting!

  • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

    Ladyjaye – Yeah, at the time it seemed like everything was a sequel whether it was or not. There’s also that odd John Hughes Shermer, IL connection between the flicks as well. Eric – No problem man. I hadn’t seen much of anything about this magazine on the net so I thought people might dig it… Mark – Huh, I’ve never seen that issue. Actually before I picked these up on ebay I hadn’t even heard of the magazine. I’d like to catch a glimpse of that issue…

  • http://funideas.50webs.com/ Mark Arnold

    Funny, the one issue of “Maniac” I have in my collection is the one you’re missing. It’s #2 and it has a blue cover. Can’t remember the cover gag at the moment, however. -Mark.

  • LadyJaye

    Well, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone refer to Breakfast Club as being the sequel to Sixteen Candles… And I agree: Sam Vivano’s caricatures are excellent.

  • Eric

    This is great! Thanks for taking the time to scan and post these. The Sam Viviano drawings in these magazines(and Mort Drucker’s in “MAD” magazine) were the main things that influenced me to learn how to draw caricatures. Too bad I never got as good as those guys, though.

  • Sarah Collins Burtner

    Wow! Thanks for covering these fine works of 80s adolescent literature. I was just telling my husband about how much I loved Maniac as a kid. I really appreciated that they were aimed at both boys and girls. MAD magazine always seemed too much like pimply boy reading for a hip girl like me. Wish I still had my issues of Maniac… My kids would love them now.

    • http://www.brandedinthe80s.com/ Shawn Robare

      No problem Sarah, thanks for stopping by to read my musings on that fine publication! Good point on the MAD magazine being more boy-centric. I never quite “got” the whole aiming at one gender or the other, especially with humor magazines like these…