Doug Gilford, a floor-covering store owner from Gresham, Oregon, has been running his Mad Cover Site for ten years. We talked about the joy of Mad Magazine and his passion for collecting.
ephemera: When did you start collecting Mad?
Gilford: As a youngster, in the mid-70s, I was introduced to Mad magazine by a babysitter. I'm not sure what triggered the obsession to have a collection. Suffice it to say, something happened in the deep recesses of my mind; that compulsive part of the collector's personality for obtaining parts of the whole. The prize of a complete collection seemed possible and had its beginnings in my early youth and lasted into my early 20s.
ephemera: The babysitter, eh? What challenges or obstacles do you encounter in finding new items for your collection?
Gilford: Different levels of Mad collectors exist out there. I have only sought out the regular issues published since 1952, up to 475 issues as of this interview. I am not part of the more fanatical base of collectors who hunt for all the Mad minutiae that exists in the form of myriad republishing of past articles in one form or another; items involving the hallowed mascot, Alfred E. Neuman; and, records, games, stickers, posters, cuff-links, etc.
I have had a complete collection of regular issues since the mid-80s, so I'm currently not having a problem running to the local grocery store each month to keep my collection complete. I visited comic book and used book stores in the Oregon and Washington areas, and bought my more valuable issues from dealers when conventions would come to Portland.
Those pre-Internet days required some real hands-on sleuthing. One challenge in the late 80s, early 90s was keeping my interest alive when the work of actively collecting Mad was done. I can thank the communicative power of the Internet for rejuvenating my interest in Mad. It allowed me to see that through a Website, I could help others with the same interest track down back-issues and have my own fun at the same time.
ephemera: That's sort of my approach as well. What are your favorite Mad items?
Gilford: Of course, the first 23 issues, which were comic books, are my most valued items. I also treasure the first magazine issue #24 from 1955. The first artwork by Norman Mingo featuring Alfred on issue #30 from 1956 as a write-in candidate for president is a favorite. Any covers with artwork by Mingo and Kelly Freas are at the top of the list. I tend to like the covers that depict art for art's sake, not publicizing what's going on in the issue. Mingo's umbrella cover from #175, 1975 is a great example. His Godfather cover from issue #155, 1972, is a personal favorite because it's the earliest issue I remember seeing as a kid.
ephemera: What’s your advice to achieving success as a collector?
Gilford: Allow the compulsive side of your personality to thrive. A little madness doesn't hurt in this particular field of collecting.
ephemera: The 'What me worry?' approach. Sounds like good advice. What resources and tools do you recommend?
Gilford: I think about how much easier my hobby would have been if the Internet had been around during my teen years. eBay and other auction sites make the task much easier today. A collector can have less reliance on comic book and used book stores now that the average person can dust off a stack of forgotten Mads and put them out there for collectors to discover. Once you find your prized issues, maintaining them hasn't changed much. I use Mylar plastic storage bags with cardboard inserts to keep the magazines tight and stiff within the bag. Storage boxes help me group fifty issues per box.
The Official Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide is a trusted resource that I buy annually and feature on my website. My site's buyers and sellers pages are free resources for collectors. I also recommend www.TheMadStore.com and www.MadMumblings.com for good Mad information. Totally MAD CD-ROM--out of print but on eBay now and then--and the new Absolutely Mad DVD can assist you in knowing what holes to fill in your collection.
ephemera: Thanks, Doug. This interview brought back a lot of fond memories and great laughs courtesy of Mad. And thank you to Josh Fruhlinger for his help in facilitating the interview.
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