MAD Magazine is an American-based humour magazine published by DC Comics. Since its establishment in 1952, the magazine has become known for its parodies of film and television, and it has published a number of parody articles relating to the Harry Potter novels and film series since 2000.
(The following lists major parodies only; Potter was also spoofed in various issues in smaller features such as the magazine's traditional "Fold-In".)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone parodies
MAD first parodied Harry Potter in issue #391, cover-dated March 2000 (and therefore on newsstands around January 2000), more than 18 months before the first film. The issue's cover spoofed the US cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, with Harry riding a broomstick alongside MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman, who is shown using a barf bag. Inside the issue is a parody of the novel entitled Harry Plodder and the Kidney Stone. Unlike most recent MAD parodies, which are artistic or comic strip in nature, this was actually several text pages spoofing the format of Rowling's work. This is the only time MAD directly parodies one of the novels, rather than one of the films.
Issue #412, cover-dated December 2001, was dubbed a "Special Harry Potter Issue" and again featured Potter on the cover. This time Harry is shown sitting in a compartment on Hogwart's Express pulling back his hair to reveal his scar - which is a dollar sign. Across from him sits Ron Weasley - who looks like Alfred E. Neuman. Features inside the issue include a spoof of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone film, retitled Harry Plodder and the Sorry-Ass Story, referential of the U.S. renaming Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. In the parody, one character makes the prediction that the film will be followed by six sequels, by which time Harry will be 23 years old. Issue 412 also features "A Mad Look at Harry Potter," a series of short comic strip gags by Sergio Aragones.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets parody
Issue #424 (December 2002) features Harry Potter on the cover (with the headline "MAD casts a spell on Harry Potter.") The art shows Potter entering a room to see Dobby - who looks like Alfred E. Neuman - standing on his bed. The Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets film parody therein is retitled Harry Plodder and the Lamest of Sequels, Continuity is maintained by using the same parody names (e.g. Harry Plodder, Runt Queasy and Herwhiny Grungy). Between Issue 412 and 424, MAD had switched to full-colour publication so this was the first Potter parody to be in colour. J.K. Rowling appears at the end of the parody, as "Alpo Doubledork" explains that she's suffering writer's block which is preventing her from completing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban parody
Issue #443 (July 2004) was published with two variant Harry Potter covers. On one, Harry is shown trying to catch a snitch with the face of Alfred E. Neuman. The other shows Harry, Ron and Hermione - rendered in the style of Claymation animation - standing by a poster of Sirius Black, only the poster reads "Have You Seen This Idiot?" and Sirius resembles Alfred. The parody of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is titled Harry Plodder and the Pre-Teen Nerds Are Actin' Bad. The artwork style for this parody undergoes a noticeable change, introducing exaggerated (and somewhat uncomplimentary) depictions of the main characters - several are shown with severe acne, for example, and Harry's Glasses are exaggerated.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire parody
Issue #460 (December 2005) features Alfred E. Neuman as Harry Potter on the cover, his face covered in soot after apparently being scorched by flames coming out of the Goblet of Fire. The parody of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is titled Harry Plodder Has Gotta Retire. The artwork continues the fluid, stylized form of the Azkaban parody. Hermione is drawn in several panels in an exaggerated sexualized way to spoof the growing maturity of the actors (in a similar vein, Harry is at one point shown bearded and lighting a cigarette with his wand).
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix parody
Issue #480 (August 2007) features Alfred E. Neuman as Voldemort on the cover, with the headline "BUY THIS ISSUE, MUGGLE!". The parody of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, titled Harry Plodder and the Torture of the Fanbase returns to the artist who illustrated the Chamber of Secrets parody. MAD parodies, having to be produced months in advance of a film's release, are often created using "best guesses" from source material; the fact the creators of this parody used the novel for source material is made evident as one of the gags involves Hermione and Ron being named prefects - an event not featured in the film. Near the end of the spoof, the writer tips the ending of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by revealing that Dumbledore dies at the end of that story, then adds, "Uh... SPOILER ALERT?" (The Half-Blood Prince book had been released more than two years earlier.)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince parody
Issue #501 (October 2009) was the first MAD issue parodying a Potter film not to have a Harry Potter-based cover. Inside, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is parodied as Harry Potter is a Hot-Blooded Putz and is illustrated by the same artist who did the Azkaban and Goblet of Fire parodies.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows parodies
With issue #507 (February 2011), Harry Potter once again did not feature on the cover. Inside, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is parodied as Harry Plodder and it's Dreadful What Follows. Tom Richmond, the artist for the Chamber of Secrets and Order of the Phoenix parodies returns. Once again, the novel appears to have been used as source material for scenes such as Hermione and Ron being tied up, which was not shown in the film. A reference is made to the film being in 3-D, which did not happen due to a late production change. Frodo from the Lord of the Rings films makes a cameo appearance to complain about how aspects of his storyline were stolen by Rowling.
On 12 July, 2011, three days before the U.S. premiere of the final film, MAD Presents Harry Potter, a special collection of the magazine's Potter parodies, was released to comic book stores and newsstands. The special has a September 2011 cover date. Its cover depicts Alfred E. Neuman as Harry, holding up his wand, which is tied in a knot; the first time MAD has run a Harry Potter cover since 2007. Aside from including the above parodies (plus other material), the magazine concludes with an exclusive parody of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, entitled Harry Plodder is Definitely Halted - Adieu!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them parody
In issue #544 (April 2017), MAD parodied the film release Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, though the parody was only mentioned on the cover, rather than featured as an image. The parody, brought to readers by the "Out With the Old, In With the Newt Dept.," is titled Fanatic Dweebs and How to Fleece Them. The parody spoils in the opening panels the film's twist regarding the true identity of the character of Percival Graves, parodied as "Percival Gruff." It also depicts J.K. Rowling as the "one true queen of England" and mocks the title's preoccupation with "office politics" as opposed to showing the fantastic beasts promised in the title. The parody ends with Newt Scamander stating that his beasts are still on the loose, but that he's called in an expert who's as two-dimensional as him, Ash Ketchum of the Pokémon franchise. Unlike past parodies, the parody was released several months after the film's theatrical release, not long before the film's premiere on home video formats.
Harry Potter was also parodied in at least two different skits on MADtv, a sketch comedy series once aired on the FOX network and loosely connected with MAD Magazine.
One such skit, which also parodies the world of WWF professional wrestling, opens with the regular MADtv character Stuart (Michael McDonald) cast in the role of "Triple H (Hunter Hurst Hemsley) Potter." (A spoof on the professional wrestler Paul "Triple H" Michael Levesque.) As the skit opens, Triple H Potter, wearing a scarf with the colours of Gryffindor House, is lying on an uncomfortable bed in a barn when a letter parodying the style of the Hogwarts acceptance letter falls on him. Waking with a start, he stares at the letter, which is addressed to:
"Master Triple H Potter
The Barn Behind WWF
4 Pivet Lane
Turning it over, he finds further writing which reads "MADtv Hollywood, California." Excitedly, he begins to open the letter, but just then Stone Cold Steve Austin (a stand-in for Vernon Dursley, performed by MADtv regular Will Sasso) walks up to him and declares that the letter is his and not Stuart's. Triple H asks what he's doing there and he says he's there to take the letter from him "because Stone Cold Steve Austin said so." He snatches it and they argue back and forth about this for a while until Stone Cold stops the argument, saying to hold on for a second, then pulls out some earplugs. The two then briefly resume the argument until Stone Cold tears up the letter, only for it to then start raining letters like the "Letters from No One" sequence from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
Stone Cold tries to grab up all of the letters, saying that he's the one who's supposed to be on MADtv, only for a positive avalanche of letters to rain down. The two begin wildly snatching at the letters until a lady (MADtv regular Stephnie Weir) (Rubeus Hagrid stand-in) carrying a cake and wearing a cloak knocks down the barn down. She and Stone Cold have a brief argument and then she hands Triple H Potter the cake and slaps down Stone Cold with a chair. She turns to Triple H and says she hasn't seen him since "Summer Slam 2000." She wishes him a happy birthday and he thanks her and asks if he knows her. She introduces herself as being Stephanie Weir of MADtv, which she thinks he knows all about.
Triple H admits he knows nothing about MADtv and he replies that no, he doesn't have cable. (MADtv was broadcast over-the-air on television and cable was not required to view it.) Stephnie is shocked that he hasn't gotten any of their invitations and she hands him another letter, which Triple H reads out loud in a voice and with the mannerisms similar to Minerva McGonagall. The letter states that he's been invited to join the cast of that evening's episode of MADtv, and he seems thrilled. Stephnie asks if he's "game," and he agrees that he's "the game, and I'm that damn good."
Stephnie tells him to follow her, as MADtv is a magical place and they can there by stepping through a wall she's pointing to. (A reference to the magical barrier separating King's Cross Station and Platform 9¾.) She leads him there, telling him to close his eyes and believe, but the two smash into the wall. (Possibly a reference to Dobby the house-elf's sealing of the barrier in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) Stephnie says that the door will work just as well. She asks if he can make her fly and he agrees, and picks her up and moves her as if she's flying, but ends up slamming her head into the wall above the door. He asks if she's okay. She slurs that she doesn't want to fly anymore, and the sketch ends.
Another skit features Harry Potter attempting to find a wand that will let the Harry Potter franchise live in the media forever. He gathers a team of wizards to get it (a parody of Ocean's 11).
Behind the scenes
- All eight of the movie parodies, as well as that of Fantastic Beasts, were written by Desmond Devlin. Four were illustrated by Hermann Mejia, three by Tom Richmond, and one by Mort Drucker. The latter artist has appeared in MAD since 1956, and inspired the villain's parody name: Lord Druckermort. The parody of Fantastic Beasts was illustrated by Anton Emdin.