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Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Great Hardcover – September 1, 2010


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Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Writers and Artists Who Made the National Lampoon Insanely Great + A Futile and Stupid Gesture: How Doug Kenney and National Lampoon Changed Comedy Forever + Fat, Drunk, & Stupid: The Inside Story Behind the Making of Animal House
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1 edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810988488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810988484
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 9.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rick Meyerowitz was a prolific contributor to the National Lampoon for 15 years, during which time he created the iconic Animal House movie poster. With Maira Kalman, he made the “New Yorkistan” cover of the New Yorker, the bestselling cover in that magazine’s history. He lives in New York City.


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Customer Reviews

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Overall, it is an uneven effort.
Jerry Saperstein
This is a book about a highly visual magazine and I would have expected all the material to be reproduced as it appeared in the Lampoon.
Robin Benson
What a GREAT book to have on my bookshelf and coffee table.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 79 people found the following review helpful By T. I. Farmer VINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
There was a time, kids, when popular humor meant more than LOLcats and people getting hit in the crotch on America's Funniest Home Videos. It gave us deft, subversive parodies of Titus Andronicus, da Vinci's notebooks, Kafka, and the Code of Hammurabi and dared the audience to keep up.

The National Lampoon was a pure flash of genius in 1970s America due in no small part to its corps of genius artists, who finally get the celebration they deserve in Rick Meyerowitz's wonderful book.

For a kid like me discovering the scathing power of satire at the intersection of Vietnam and Watergate, 1972-73, the National Lampoon was a gust of visual and verbal nitrous oxide in an oleo world; nothing in my life has made me laugh harder. NatLamp boldly ran long, texty pieces that would likely be spiked today over lack of faith in readers' attention spans; one high point was a perversely intricate 12,000-word overview of the "law of the jungle" (literally, an invented legal system for animals) complete with demented Latinate citations, lovingly reprinted here.

But it was the art direction that genuinely made your jaw drop, and a lot of the best of it is in here. You'll find astonishing, gorgeous, dark-side takes on Herge's Tintin books, the Yellow Pages, SAT tests, Nazi zeppelin tourism brochures, insane niche mag titles they made up like Brave Dog magazine... from artists like Gahan Wilson, Charles Rodrigues, Bruce McCall, Brian McConnachie, and so many more... this was genius, fearless, hysterical and important stuff of a type wholly AWOL from today's scene. People who forward Onion or Colbert links to each other today would probably be struck dead silent by NatLamp's Vietnamese Baby Book parody or fake - and hilarious - Dutch hate campaign.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Chris Landsberg on September 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I spent a good portion of the 1970s in my room listening to music and reading National Lampoon. During its prime years it was probably the funniest magazine that ever existed - at least to my teenage mind. I still have a pile of them in storage, including the 1964 Yearbook, the 199th Birthday Book, and The Very Large Book of Comical Funnies. Pure gold! This book is great. Rick Meyerowitz gives us a generous selection of the magazine's greatest work. He also includes reminiscences about the writers and artists who made it all possible. In 1976 I thought these guys had the greatest job on earth. I was probably right.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BlogOnBooks on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Illustrator Rick Meyerowitz - best known for the National Lampoon's "Mona Gorilla" cover and the poster for "Animal House" - looks at what made the Lampoon a 1970's comedy institution in "Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead." Of course, it was the contributors who made the magazine "insanely great," as the book's subtitle puts it.
If you read the Lampoon back then, chances are you first picked it up because there were naked women inside (a few) or maybe because top Batman artist Neal Adams was drawing the adventures of someone called Son-O-God. Those obvious lures aside, the Lampoon held so much more to amuse readers that it would go on to become one of the great magazines of the decade.

Meyerowitz presents this rogues gallery of contributors according to when they began working for the Lampoon. Along with personal recollections from Meyerowitz, who seems to have known everyone, the book reprints - in glorious color, sometimes better than the original printings - key articles that capture these creators at their best.

There are intellectual writers like Doug Kenney, Henry Beard, Michael O'Donoghue, Christopher Cerf, Tony Hendra and Gerry Sussman, responsible for articles from "Law of the Jungle," a densely written code of law for animals to a shockingly funny parody of the Yellow Pages. There are deranged cartoonists like Charles Rodrigues, the mind behind "The Aesop Brothers," talky miminalist Ed Subitsky, Sam Gross, whose gag panels lived up to his last name, and Gahan Wilson, whose comic "Nuts" made "Peanuts" seem positively upbeat.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Hensgens on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved the book. Well done by the author. Explained just enough too not too much of what it was like to work at NL with the crew.
I did not realize there were so many personalities in one office. A hell of a clash.
If this book brought back memories as a reader, I can only imagine what it was like to have lived it.
I guess the title of the book says it all.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Saperstein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Way back when, I occasionally enjoyed the National Lampoon. Sometimes the humor was absolutely hilarious, such as the classic cover with a dog, a gun pointed at its head, and the headline "If you don't buy this magazine, we'll kill this dog". On the whole, National Lampoon contained many wondrous gems - and a lot of fool's gold and clinkers too.

For five years, National Lampoon was cutting edge, bleeding edge in fact, but the humor became more and more strained as the magazine had to compete with its own past. By 1975, a slow downward trajectory set in. But National Lampoon's progeny, a uniquely talented bunch of writers and artists went on to bigger and better things, such as forming the core of the original Saturday Night Live writing staff, producing "Animal House" and "Caddyshack".

But as the title of this self-reverential orgy implies, many of the first cadre were heavy users of alcohol and other substances. Some, including one of the founders, didn't make the traditional three score and ten. One didn't make it to thirty.

This book is actually two books. One book is composed of reprints from the National Lampoon. Some of it is the first-rate material and a lot simply hasn't withstood the ticking of the clock and is no longer funny - if it ever was.

The second is a collection of articles in which the writers and artists praise each other's genius. You'll miss little if you read none of this.

Overall, it is an uneven effort. Those who remember National Lampoon from their own youth may find at least parts of it as funny as the first time around. Others who never cottoned to it, won't find it any more appealing than it was 40 years ago. I question if today's young people will find it funny at all.
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