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Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Mad Magazine

Nick Meglin, veteran editor of MAD Magazine, passes away at 82

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Jun 13, 2018, 4:34 PM EDT (Updated)

Nick Meglin, a longtime editor, contributor, artist, and overall creative for MAD Magazine, has passed away at the age of 82 from a heart attack. His daughter, Diane Meglin confirmed the cause of death and that her father died at his home in Durham, North Carolina, reports The New York Times.

Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Meglin joined MAD in 1956, where he'd enjoy a position with the magazine for nearly half a century. While names like Mort Drucker and Sergio Aragonés would become inexorably linked with the parody publication, Meglin never garnered as much fame as his contemporaries. However, this didn't mean that his contributions to the iconic periodical were any less significant. Quite the contrary.

When Meglin was hired in the mid-1950s, Al Feldstein held the top editing job for MAD, and while he was a capable captain, it was Nick who really excelled in the humor department.

“Feldstein was not humorous. He appreciated humor, but he didn’t inspire humor,” Jaffee tells The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “Nick inspired humor," Al Jaffee, another longtime MAD contributor, told The Washington Post. “He was a bit zany. ... He had a great appreciation for the satirical viewpoint — he was gifted with that kind of natural understanding.”


Credit: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Mad Magazine

For instance, it was Meglin's idea to replace the faces of Paul Newman and Robert Redford with those of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew when the publication parodied the Oscar-winning film The Sting in 1974. This was at a time when Nixon was suffering the full effects of the Watergate scandal. 

“That was ahead of its time,” John Ficarra, who would later edit MAD with Meglin, told the NYT. “No one was really mashing up movies and politics.”

Over the years, his name appeared in the magazine masthead with several different titles, including "Ideas" and "War Correspondent."

In 1985, nearly 30 years after he joined the magazine staff, Meglin became the top editor, along with John Ficarra. He would hold this position for almost 20 years, before retiring in 2004, but still staying on as a "contributing editor." During his stint as editor, Meglin's business cards reportedly billed him as the MAD Tennis Editor, mainly because he was a big fan of the sport.

In addition to MAD, Meglin also wrote scripts for Jack Davis' 1970s comic strip titled Superfan, which depicted a "freaky football folk hero." Trying his hand at writing for theater, he became involved in a musical version of Grumpy Old Men, as well as a sequel to A Christmas Carol called Tim and Scrooge, penning the book and lyrics.

And as if the above-mentioned accomplishments weren't enough, Meglin was also a teacher at the New York School of Visual Arts. When he moved to Durham years later, he did a bit of illustration teaching there, too. Still, it will always be his legendary contributions to MAD that will live on in the minds of readers everywhere, whether they know his name or not. 

“Nick’s sense of humor was a defining part of MAD magazine,” Tom Richmond, a Reuben Award-winning caricature artist at MAD, told The Post. “No other single person had as much to do with creating and perpetuating the MAD ‘voice’ as he did. Both as a humorist and as a person, he was without peer.”