The Sincerest Form of Parody (John Benson) - Fantagraphics Books - 2011 - 192 pages

This book is a must-read for all fans of the Mad comics (#1-23).  Author Benson has compiled the best of the imitators in one volume with historical references and commentary.  The introduction by Jay Lynch and the "Notes" by Benson that start on page 167 provide a history of the pre-Comics Code period (1952-1955) when other comic book houses were desperately trying to cash in on the success of Harvey Kurtzman's creation.  It was a wonderful time for comic book fans.  Of special interest are the timelines identified by Benson and the blatant examples of the copying that occurred.  I thoroughly enjoyed this analysis but I do disagree with one of Benson's statements (page 188): "Whack, Get Lost and Flip ... (were) ... the three titles often considered the best of the genre ..."  For me, the twelve issues of Panic, the Mad companion, were clearly the best of the Mad imitations.  [JAM 6/13/2012]