The Bleakest, Most Powerful Commentary On School Shootings All Year Is MAD Magazine’s Gashlycrumb Tinies Parody

Definitely not the kind of social commentary you'd expect from MAD.

We’re over three-quarters of the way through what’s been an incredibly challenging 2018. If there was one overarching topic (that’s not related to Donald Trump) that was far too prevalent this year, it would have to be number of school shootings that have occurred in the US and the whole issue of gun control.

It’s a tragic topic that can be too overwhelming for some outlets to cover, but MAD Magazine has pulled absolutely no punches in its powerful take on the topic.

In the latest issue of the long-running satirical magazine, writer Matt Cohen and artist Marc Palm reimagines Edward Gorey’s 1963 macabre children’s alphabet book The Gashlycrumb Tinies into a haunting commentary on school shootings titled “The Gashlygun Tinies”.

Whereas the original book was playfully dark in exaggerated ways, MAD‘s parody is somber and depressingly too real.

Just as how the original Gashlycrumb Tinies depicts a horrifying alphabet in which 26 kids die in various dark ways starting with “A is for Amy who fell down the stairs” and ending with “Z is for Zillah who drank too much gin”, MAD‘s “Gashlygun Tinies” parody goes down a similar route but with an extra injection of realism in each of its rhymes and the result is a growing cascade of gut punches.

It all starts off relatively innocent enough with “A is for Alice. A young science wiz”, but it quickly descends into somewhere terrifyingly and depressingly real: “D is for Dana who had a hall pass”, “G is for Greg who was caught unawares”, and “R is for Reid, valued less than a gun”.

H is for Hiro who needs more than prayers.

Whereas Gorey’s original cartoon depicted each kid dying in increasingly weird and left-field ways (poor James took lye by mistake), MAD‘s brilliant parody subverts the source material’s text by simply having each of the children going about their usual, everyday business. There simply is no laugh to be had here.

By eschewing its usual comedic tone for something brutally real, MAD has delivered what is arguably 2018’s most powerful statement on school shootings, a point that is driven home by the cartoon’s final two panels: “Y is for Yuri whose time has now passed” and “Z is for Zoe who won’t be the last”.

Satirists help others understand the issues of the world through comedy. But it is clear that the events of the past year has forced MAD to start dishing out strong statements with barely a drop of comedy.

When one of the world’s most popular satirical magazines, one that built an empire on laughs, stops laughing, perhaps everyone should start paying attention on what it has to say.

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