From the Vaults: Cracked REJECTED!
Before Cracked.com became a purveyor snarky lists, it was the online hub for the relaunch of Cracked Magazine. For those of you who don't know about Cracked Magazine, for almost 50 years it was Pepsi to MAD Magazine's Coca-Cola.
But in 2004, Cracked Magazine was cancelled with #365:
Not long after that, I began replying to anonymous ads on Monster.com seeking writers for a mysterious "Humor Mag". I emailed them relentlessly with no response. My emails began to get stranger and more familiar the longer this went on:
On the fateful date of March 11, 2005, I received a voicemail while I was on the phone with Warner Bros HR setting up an interview for the position of receptionist at MAD Magazine. The phone call was from Tom DeFalco, legendary comic book writer and former EiC of Marvel Comics.
Unbeknownst to me, Tom had been hired as EiC for the relaunch of Cracked Magazine. Here's a press release about it (for posterity's sake, I've saved the press release as a PNG in case that link goes down). So basically I was on the phone with MAD Magazine while Cracked Magazine was leaving me a voicemail. Deliciously ironic.
I was invited to pitch to the relaunch of Cracked. They were repositioning themselves as a cheeky pop culture publication closer to the Photoshopped sarcasm of Maxim rather than the illustrated satire of MAD. I immediately enlisted my college buddy Pete (my bandmate in Dirty Weekend and collaborator on comics like Time Log and Zombie Palin) to help me. Here's one of the gems we came up with:
Along with our Puking Wand ad, we wrote a bunch of fake magazine editorials. These ranged from a harsh Tom DeFalco parody to a Santa Claus exposé to a feature story about the new "stealth dumping" fad:
All our pitches were rejected. We weren't hip or current enough for Tom and his other editors, Sven Larsen and Justin Droms. And we weren't the only thing that was rejected -- after only three issues, Cracked Magazine was cancelled again.
But that's not the end of this story! Fast-forward four years to 2009 and I was getting back into zine making and self-publishing (in high school I helped create a zine called The Lockeroom and in college I self-published a zine called NoPants).
Along with some homemade print collections of my new webcomics, I decided to also craft a zine which contained some my pitches that were rejected by Cracked Magazine. I called this zine Cracked REJECTED!
You can download a PDF of Cracked REJECTED! and experience the nightmare for yourself. It collects all of my email correspondence with Cracked's editorial team along with some of our more outrageous pitches.
But be forewarned -- it's an ugly little zine with some amateur formatting. So if you're a graphic design snob, then this might not be for you. However, if you're still curious, I hope you download the PDF and enjoy this classic piece of editorial rejection that I've unearthed FROM THE VAULTS!!!