Sometimes I forget just how far back I go in the annals of Zane. Back in 1977 I had a brief flirtation with National Lampoon.
I was living in Tucson and the Arizona Daily Wildcat (the school newspaper at the U of A) did a short feature on the Razz Revue, a humor magazine—I'm sorry, it was a MAGAZOMIC!—that my friend Dan Harshberger and I created and launched in 1972. By the spring of '77, it was all but out of business.
Not long after the Wildcat article appeared, I got a letter from Matty Simmons, the publisher of National Lampoon, stating that he thought there were perhaps staffers at the Razz who might be good enough to work for the NatLampCo (slang for the National Lampoon Company).
I spent a good week developing Lampoon inspired cartoon ideas (Neutron Man! He destroys people but leaves the buildings!) and at the last second, before I dropped the rough sketches in the mailbox, I thought I'd better cover the dog, as we used to say, and, even though I knew they would never choose it, I included a rough sketch of the first thing that came into my mind:
From there it was all down hill. Tony Hendra flew out to Arizona to meet the staff and we all ended up at Dan and Darlene's house on Cheery Lynn in Phoenix. It was clear he was looking to hire someone. Long story short, I didn't get the gig at Lampoon.
There is a new movie out that features the story of the creation of The National Lampoon and what became of the guys who founded it. Without a doubt, the film is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Bad wigs, unfunny dialogue and a boring, pointless story. One thing they got right though, is the title:
An underground review of The Queen of Country Swing
"Change is the business of satire. Satire is militant irony. Irony is long-suffering. It doesn't incite you to transform society; it strengthens you to tolerate it."