How exactly does one become a MAD-addict? Well, my name is Jason Levine and here is my story:
Part 1: My first memory of MAD was when I was 6 or 7 years old. My grandfather had a scrap-metal and recycling shop in Syracuse New York and he took me to work with him. He dropped me in a big bin of returned magazines and comics and allowed me to chose some to read. I picked the MAD magazines, ignoring all the super hero comics. Then I recall going to summer camp and seeing the counselors with their older magazines and I would read and try to have them give me some. Then when I was about 9 or 10, a new kid moved down the block from me. He had moved from the city and had a trunk full of MAD magazines, all in bags, and I saw older magazines and I was in disbelief. My magazines were much loved, even with my name written on the covers. Well, the new kid became a close friends and we’d take the train to the city and visit comic stores, for the next few years all birthday and holiday gifts were MAD magazines now I was a “collector”. The next defining moment was my first trip to the MAD office. This made MAD very personal to me, and it also gave me my first glimpse of foreign MADs as they used to have extra copies in the lobby free for the taking. Needless to say, I really enjoyed meeting all sorts of other collectors, antique/comic dealers, MAD staffers and even artists and writers. In the pre-internet days I really embraced the “thrill of the chase” and could write a book and how I tracked down some of my items. I collected anything and everything MAD till around 1997. I was both short on space and funds and some priorities had changed. So I made the difficult decision to sell much of my collection.
Part 2: About 10 years ago I began to peek at eBay and noticed I could pick up some of the items I sold for a fraction of their pre-internet values. So I selectively would buy some of the holy-grails if I saw them. eBay really changed the market and collecting became more instant gratification. I then discovered some of the international auction sites. I thought it would be fun to find all the #1 issues from around the world. This was something really not possible before the internet. It was too painful to try and repurchase what I once owned, but most of the foreign stuff was very new to me. Needless to say, it expanded well beyond the #1 issues. Finding items from around the world had much the same thrill as collecting as a kid. Many countries are difficult to search and purchase from, so it involved making friends around the world. Then in 2016 I had the opportunity to purchase a large collection that allowed me to get many of the items I once owned but were too painful to purchase one by one. And that is where I am today. I’m still looking for a few things, I still have many things for sale/trade and I try not to think about what I once owned…
Here are some photos. The first was my collection as a kid. The next are some of what I own now. As I live in NYC I don’t have the space to display everything, so there are lots of rainy days and evenings digging around and searching my collection. Some day I hope to have a basement to display it all.