COLLECTIBLY MAD, the history of MAD magazine as shown through its own collectibles, was published by Kitchen Sink Press in 1995. The book was nominated for an Eisner Award in 1996 in the category of "Best Comics-Related Book."
Collector extraordinaire Grant Geissman started reading and saving MAD magazines as a kid back in 1961. Later, upon discovering that MAD publisher William M. Gaines had previously published E.C. Comics (Tales from the Crypt, Weird Science, et cetera), those books and related materials likewise became a passion. MAD, in fact, had begun in 1952 as a 10-cent comic book written by Harvey Kurtzman and published by Gaines's E.C. Comics group. By 1967, Geissman acknowledges that he had succumbed to "comics fandom," and his collecting began in earnest. His 300-page-plus COLLECTIBLY MAD—The MAD and EC Collectibles Guide is a loving tribute to his diligence.
A first of its kind in the collectibles field, COLLECTIBLY MAD is not just a check list but a virtual compendium of MAD and EC trivia, anecdotes, vintage photos, and other information. Among other revelations, it is reported here for the first time that illustrator Norman Rockwell originally agreed to paint the archetypal Alfred E. Neuman face for MAD, but later declined because he wouldn't be able to work from a live model, as was his custom. Geissman's compilation sails through years of pop culture, detailing the books, record albums, jewelry, clothing, games, foreign reprints, calendars, and other ephemera that spawned from Bill Gaines's unique and colorful publishing house. Only a completist like Geissman could have gathered such a massive amount and variety of material--which includes a lengthy interview with the late Bill Gaines and a price guide to aid in the buying and selling of this memorabilia. As his collection grew, Geissman became increasingly committed to tracking down the very rarest items, such as the MAD Straight Jacket, EC cufflinks, and MAD Jewelry. Running "wanted" ads in antique, collectible and comics journals, he garnered materials from all corners of the globe. After writing the publisher of the Swedish MAD, for example, Grant returned home to find a "care package" of rare Swedish MAD collectibles on his doorstep; the publisher had come to town on business, looked up the address and personally hand-delivered the items.
Geissman began writing COLLECTIBLY MAD in 1990 after realizing that no guide whatsoever for MAD or E.C. collectibles existed. Kitchen Sink Press, a highly regarded publisher of classic comic-related art, subsequently signed on to release the tome. MAD publisher Bill Gaines gave a hearty "thumbs up" to the work-in-progress and contributed some never before seen collectibles, as did various MAD staffers, artists, and writers.
MAD is a fitting title for this book. It's amazingly well-researched; in fact, it seems meticulous to the point of near-insanity.
- Joe Fielder, HERO ILLUSTRATED, June 1995
"What, Me Collect MAD?"
Fans like me who can't get enough of all things MAD need Grant Geissman's new 320-page Collectibly MAD.
In it, Geissman lovingly describes such Mad artifacts as Halloween costumes, old office stationery, mugs, slot machines, a straitjacket, and The MAD Show, a revue from 1966. Collectibles are illustrated with more than 1,000 black-and-white pictures and eight color pages. There are loads of anecdotes, as well as an exclusive interview with MAD's founder, William Gaines.
The wacky, irreverent stories and art created by MAD's "usual gang of idiots" have been making me laugh since the '70s. But whether you're a new fan or an old one, the inane relics showcased in this book will make MAD addicts drool with desire.WIRED Magazine
Issue 3.12 - Dec 1995