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During a perambulating phone interview, I asked Paul Krassner why, in 1958, he had christened his new satire magazine The Realist.

"I wanted to have a title that didn't say 'Funny Stories!' " he replied, adding with a laugh that he wanted readers to "discern for themselves whether something was real or fake." As the Realist Cartoons collection from Fantagraphics reveals, it wasn't just the magazine's title that foretold the bogus news and fact-challenged politics of our own age. The 84-year-old Krassner ("The new 83!" he says sunnily) began his career as a satirist in 1955, when he sold an idea to MAD magazine — "What if comic-strip characters answered those little ads in the back of magazines?" The renowned comics artist Wally Wood illustrated Krassner's vision of Little Orphan Annie mailing away for Maybelline products to decorate her blank eyes and Dagwood bulking up from a 98-pound weakling so Blondie wouldn't be able to push him around anymore. (Although he then becomes so muscle-bound she kicks sand in his face as he lies helpless on the beach.) Krassner wanted to include Popeye's skinny girlfriend, Olive Oyl, ordering a set of falsies, but MAD's editor balked. The magazine's owner, Bill Gaines, told the young writer that such ideas were too adult; MAD had started out as a comic book, after all, and its circulation, still aimed at teenagers, was steadily climbing toward seven figures. When Krassner said he understood why Gaines didn't want to change horses midstream, the publisher replied, "Not when the horse has a rocket up its ass." That was the moment, Krassner says, when he conceived a satire magazine for adults. "I had no role models," he writes in the foreword to the new book, "and no competition, just an open field mined with taboos waiting to be exploded."

full: http://www.villagevoice.com/arts/seven-decades-of-satiric-cartoons-brighten-these-dark-times-9547239

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