The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Mad Magzine Publisher William M. Gaines Gets The Biopic Treatment

Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageSource: Variety

John Landis will direct a biopic based on the life of Mad Magzine publisher and First Amendment fan William M. Gaines.

The movie will follow Gaines and his friend Al Feldstein as they lead a group of maverick artists as they produce comic books. Gaines also testified before a 1954 Senate subcommittee on the limits of censorship and the boundaries of good taste. His blunt testimony is memorable:

Chief Counsel Herbert Beaser: Let me get the limits as far as what you put into your magazine. Is the sole test of what you would put into your magazine whether it sells? Is there any limit you can think of that you would not put in a magazine because you thought a child should not see or read about it?

Bill Gaines: No, I wouldn't say that there is any limit for the reason you outlined. My only limits are the bounds of good taste, what I consider good taste.

Beaser: Then you think a child cannot in any way, in any way, shape, or manner, be hurt by anything that a child reads or sees?

Gaines: I don't believe so.

Beaser: There would be no limit actually to what you put in the magazines?

Gaines: Only within the bounds of good taste.

Beaser: Your own good taste and saleability?

Gaines: Yes.

Senator Estes Kefauver: Here is your May 22 issue. [Kefauver is mistakenly referring to Crime Suspenstories #22, cover date May] This seems to be a man with a bloody axe holding a woman's head up which has been severed from her body. Do you think that is in good taste?

Gaines: Yes sir, I do, for the cover of a horror comic. A cover in bad taste, for example, might be defined as holding the head a little higher so that the neck could be seen dripping blood from it, and moving the body over a little further so that the neck of the body could be seen to be bloody.

Kefauver: You have blood coming out of her mouth.

Gaines: A little.

Kefauver: Here is blood on the axe. I think most adults are shocked by that.

Rock on, baby. Potrebie forever.