Monday, August 17, 2009

The International Insanity of Swine Flu ... Magazines

I'm wondering how the wacky health-care reform debate in this country will change when swine flu makes its predicted return in more-virulent form this fall and infects hundreds of millions more people.

Growing up in Wisconsin, I vaguely remember the swine flu epidemic of the mid-1970s. I was but a wee lad at the time, but I remember one important thing from that health-care crisis: It turned out that the swine flu vaccine was, um, er, making some people get sick and die. Don't worry, I'm not going to go all Jenny McCarthy on you; I think parents should get their kids vaccinated. The science is pretty strong on the side of, well, science. But nonetheless, when it comes to flu, I never get vaccinated, and it's all because I remember the failure of that first swine flu vaccine campaign.

On a related note, in the mid-1970s, there was a short-lived competitor to National Lampoon called International Insanity. Like the Lampoon, it parodied other media, had fumetti, fake news, comics, and more. Unlike Lampoon, it wasn't particularly good. But before it died, it did offer up the cover reproduced here, with a new take on swine flu.

International Insanity was designed by Cloud Studio, a famed NYC design house that also designed National Lampoon in its first year of publication (1970). Now, I'm not sure about this next connection, but a Michael Sullivan was a leading member of Cloud Studio, and many of Future Life magazine's great covers in the late-1970s, early-1980s were photographed by Michael Sullivan. The same man? I can't find confirmation, but I kind of assume it is the same person.

Anyway, National Lampoon no longer exists in print form, and International Insanity no longer exists. So if swine flu should return with a vengeance this fall, we'll have to look to The Onion to provide us with comic relief.

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