REVIEW SUMMARY: Remember those jokes that you thought were so funny as a kid? Turns out they’re not as funny as you remembered.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A compendium of the major Star Wars-related parodies from MAD magazine.
PROS: Fine artwork; nostalgic value; lots of interesting trivia; some of the bits are honestly funny.
CONS: Most of the humor is juvenile and falls painfully flat.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t go into this, like I did, expecting laugh-out-loud moments.
It’s been a couple of decades since I last read MAD Magazine, but I still have fond memories of it. It was what I used to read before I graduated to books. When Del Rey sent along a review copy of Mad About Star Wars – a collection of the major Star Wars parodies that have appeared in Mad magazine since 1978 – I was tickled pink, ready to sit back and revel in the jokes of yesteryear.
Sadly, that was not the experience I had at all. Childhood memories are apparently more powerful than the harsh realities of adulthood; the fact here is that most of the jokes are just not that funny. How many times can you take potshots at easy marks like the post office, the IRS and Star Wars merchandising? Okay, I’ll concede that the potshots at Lucas were often funny; that bit never gets old. And the parts that made fun of the movies themselves were decent in an observational way. For example, in Return of the Jedi, why didn’t Luke and Leia fly above the forest on their speeder and simply avoid all those nasty trees? But overall the humor was just a wee bit too juvenile, even for my admittedly lowbrow tastes.
One thing that does stand up after all this time is the artwork, particularly by Mort Drucker. I have always been impressed by artists who can capture the essence of a person’s appearance with just a few pencil strokes. There’s no mistaking the renderings of Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, nor the easier-to-distinguish Vader, Chewbacca and the 2 droids. And I would be remiss if I did not mention Don Martin who launched my own career as a closet doodler. Another plus: Bresman, who once worked at Lucas Arts, displays his love for the films and also shares lots of interesting trivia in the sidebars.
To be sure, older readers will like the nostalgic value of Mad About Star Wars, and it does offer something to pass along to their kids who are now discovering (or have recently discovered) the Star Wars movies. Just don’t go into this, like I did, expecting laugh-out-loud moments.