Tag Archives: book club

Are you a Maniac?

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…