Despite Apple's ostensibly strict rules that prevent inappropriate content from its App Store, DC Entertainment, publisher of such upstanding heroes as Superman and Wonder Woman, is about to sneak through its first dedicated MAD Magazine app.
Not available until Sunday, which is known to watercooler comedians as both April Fools' Day and the birthday of MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman, the MAD app might surprise you: it's not a waste of time.
Guarantees against it insulting your intelligence, however, have yet to be made.
The app itself will be free and offer some free content, although full issues of MAD will cost you. New issues of MAD run $4.99 in the app, while back issues go for $1.99. Unlike DC's Comixology-powered app for its comic books, the MAD app, developed by 1K Studios, will offer digital subscriptions for $1.99 per issue or $9.99 per year. Current print subscribers will automatically get a free digital subscription.
It presents the magazine in a remarkably accessible manner. The full contents of each MAD issue are available on the iPad, including my favorite feature as a kid: the fold-in. For those not familiar with it, the fold-in is full-page illustration accompanied by a leading question. Fold it twice along its guidelines, and the illustration morphs into a humorous answer.
You can't fold an iPad. At least, not easily. So, the app does the folding for you, when you swipe from right to left along the guidelines. (As a side note, the fold-in for the issue I previewed, MAD No. 514, was newly drawn by the legendary Al Jaffee, who has been drawing for MAD since the 1950s and has missed only one issue of MAD since 1964.)
The app will contain content from all strains of MAD out in the world. This includes the print magazine, the Web site, and the Cartoon Network show.
One aspect of the app that is likely to take some getting used is the way that multipage features are presented. In the print magazine, you simply keep flipping pages from left to right. When you reach the first page of a longer piece in the app, a double-arrow at the bottom of the page indicates that you can swipe vertically to see more jokes.
In the issue of MAD that I previewed, this worked exceptionally well in a "Twilight" "choose-your-own-adventure" parody. Tapping one plot option would darken the others, providing a simple visual nudge to continue on with the narrative. However, for other features, I forgot that the pages were arranged vertically and kept wanting to swipe horizontally to move on to a different feature.
The small black-and-white drawings done by Sergio Aragones, called MAD Marginals since that's the part of the page where they appear, can be zoomed in on. That's a good thing; otherwise they'd be too small to see.
The last page of the app is a full-page promo for the magazine's blog, The Idiotical.
You're not likely to increase your IQ after downloading the MAD Magazine app, but unless you're dead, you'll be smiling a lot more.