A few years ago, I reviewed Mad Magazine Cover to Cover for MyShelf. It was edited by Mad Magazine's
editors, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was published by Watson-Guptill and so, when Spy vs Spy 2: The
Joke and Dagger Files became available this year, what could I do but offer to review it? Watson-Guptill can
always be counted on for quality, and here was a book with a similar subject matter but different viewpoint.
Spy Vs Spy 2 is written by David Shayne with a foreword by J.J. Abrams. It, of course, covers the
story of the "Spy vs. Spy" feature, originally published in Mad. Every Mad fan knows "Spy vs. Spy"
for both its storyline and artwork. The book follows Spy Vs Spy: The Complete Casebook (which I didn't
read but must!). It did not disappoint.
The wry humor. The great graphics. Actually, anyone interested in art should study the graphics. One can
follow them from chiaroscuro to color, from early to late, from broad geometrics from the magazine to more
detailed comic strips.
It is also political - for those of you who aren't already familiar with this American icon. The originator
was Antonio Prohias. He escaped from Communist Cuba, where his lampoons of the local government were not
particularly welcome. Mad was the perfect host for his concept: a spy garbed in black and his identical
twin clothed in white, both bent on mutual and pointless destruction. It was fraught with possibilities for
Since Prohias' death, his concept has been kept alive with a cadre of artists, and the world - unfortunately -
keeps them fed with political absurdity enough to keep fans well-nourished. One of the neatest things is that
Author Shayne uncovers the real intrigue behind the development of this cartoon.
This book is a testament to the fact that if one takes an idea that is rooted in reality, treats it
artistically and with a little humor, it may never die.