Tag Archives: r.l. stine

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…

Before the Garbage Pail Kids we had the Crabbage Patch Teenagers!

Getting a chance to look at all these old book club flyers reminded me that I have a stack of some of the more obscure Scholastic branded magazines from the 80s called Maniac.  I plan on scanning the best of those issues for next week, but today I have a really cool advertising parody from the back of issue five called the Crabbage Patch Teenagers!

There are metric tons of parodies of the Cabbage Patch Kids phenomena from the 80s, Garbage Pail Kids being my favorite, but the above ad is kind of cool because it was one of the earliest that I’ve been able to track down.  In the timeline of insanity we have the CPK craze really kicking into high gear around the Christmas season of 1983, then sometime in early 1985 John Pound painted Mark Newgarden’s CPK parody concept called a Garbage Pail Kid for the 1985 Topps Wacky Packages re-launch (though it never made it into the final set), next John Pound, Mark Newgarden, Tom Bunk and Art Speigleman launched Topps full-on Garbage Pail Kids parody stickers in June of ’85, and last but not least, Mad magazine premiered its Cabbage Patch Kids parody in their December 1985 issue (consequently I couldn’t find any mention of CPK in Cracked through the end of 1986.)

So the above Crabbage Patch Teenagers is one of the earliest parodies, sliding in right behind the initial doll insanity.  Though I think I can safely say that this ad wasn’t an inspiration for the Garbage Pail Kids, it’s none-the-less a GPK precursor that looks a whole heck of a lot like the artwork John Pound would be producing just months later.  Especially when you look at the painting he did for the Wacky Packages piece, which bears little resemblance doll-wise to what he ended up doing in the 1st GPK series set, this Maniac ad really is the 1st time the public saw something resembling a Garbage Pail Kid.

I don’t know,  I find this parody fascinating…