Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cracked-ing Up

Last week, I got an item in the mail that surprised and confused me. Not that long ago, a team of people revitalized and relaunched Cracked magazine, perhaps Mad's biggest and longest-running competitor, as a humor magazine more attuned to standup and the old National Lampoon than serial humor comics. Now, after three issues, that experiment has ended.

From the mailing:

Dear Cracked Magazine Reader:

I am sad to say that Cracked Magazine is no more.

Several years ago, we purchased Cracked with the hope to bring it back as a sophisticated version of the original publication. We upgraded the editorial and made it more contemporaneous. We brought in new writers and added a web site. We upgraded the production quality and the distribution. However, to make a long story short -- the magazine failed in large part due to troubles in the magazine business itself. However, on a brighter note, the Cracked website succeeded and will live on under the auspices of Demand Media -- its new owner.

For those current subscribers to Cracked, Teshkeel Media will be fulfilling its subscription responsibilities by delivering copies of The 99 -- a new comic book super hero series. Please checkout Teshkeel and its products at

All of Cracked readers will, of course, still have the option to go to the Cracked website to enjoy the new re-invigorated Cracked in its digital format at:

We want to thank our loyal readers who have enthusiastically cheered us on in our effors to recreate the magazine and who have helped us create the new website.

Thanks to all of you -- Cracked will now live on due to your efforts!

Marc Liu
Cracked Entertainment

I guess I'm not that surprised that the magazine folded. Humor magazines have historically had a hard slog on the newsstand. But the choice of subscription fulfillment replacement is intriguing. The 99 is a popular superhero comic book series in the Middle East, and its writing is heavily influenced by Islam. So the series' launch in the United States is interesting. Similarly, the publisher, Teshkeel, also publishes Marvel, DC, and Archie comics translated into Arabic.

While the replacement is even less appropriate than Enter magazine subscribers having to ride out on 3-2-1 Contact after Enter folded, it's a fascinating example of global publishing and cross-cultural licensing.

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