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  HEY EVERYBODY! CRACKED IS BACK!  
   
   
 

Cracked magazine is coming back! "What the hell is Cracked?" you say... or "Who cares?" Well, back in my day, when we walked 10 miles to school barefoot in the snow, there was a magazine called Cracked, which you only stole if the store didn't have Mad magazine.

The last issue, according to Monty Sahran, Cracked's CEO and editor in chief, was published in November 2004, and the new improved

 
  version will be out in 2006. The website, Cracked.com, is set to launch October 1, if you believe their countdown. They're also seeking submissions there; they claim they're actually paying for humor.

Mad magazine came back, made a TV show and launched the careers of … well … nobody, really. Not to be outdone, Cracked is re-launching as a Web site and a print magazine, hoping to capture the hearts and gonads of 18-34 males everywhere. Judging from the answers I got from editor Justin Droms, Web editor Jack O'Brien and Sarhan, there will be plenty of bathroom humor, news and reviews, and satire. And if some of the press
 
 
 

releases are to be believed, Cracked entertainment plans to expand the brand through other media, including the development of animated and live-action content for television, film and the Internet.

Here's a free-for-all interview with the new gang.

So Cracked is coming back, um, how long has it been gone?

Justin: Well, we've never actually been gone.

Monty: I think people lost track of the magazine as they grew older, but the reality is that Cracked has been continuously published for almost 50 years, much like our lesser-known competitors Time and Newsweek.

Jack: If you can still call Newsweek a serious magazine.

Monty: What we did was put the magazine on hiatus for all of 2005 while we went through the re-design. Cracked will be back on newsstands in January and will be so beautiful that it will melt your face.

When will the online & print versions launch? (I see there's a countdown now on the website...)

Monty: If Jack can get his hands out of his pants for more than five minutes, the website will go live in mid-October.

Justin: Jack is incompetent. And horny. It's delaying things.

Monty: As for the print magazine, it will hit newsstands nationwide in January 2006, which will be just in time for 2006.

How often will the magazine be published and the site updated?

Monty: It's sites like Yahoo, The Black Table and BangBus that raise the bar and push us to want to have a regularly updated Web site.

Justin: The site will be updated regularly unless Jack is on the nod again -- in which case the site will be updated when we feel like it.

Jack: We're planning to have the site updated three times a week and hopefully, we'll eventually increase that to five days a week at some point.

Monty: The print magazine will be bi-monthly for the first year because we're lazy.

Jack: And because we're bi.

Justin: In 2007, we're going straight, to monthly.

Will the website be free?

Jack: Completely 100% free. Gratas. Libre. You can quote me on that.

Justin: Just to be clear, by "free," I think what Jack means is that it's an autonomous, independent, self-governing and sovereign state within Cracked.

Tell me about this new format: covering comedians, the business side of comedy, "to be to comedy what Rolling Stone is to music." That doesn't sound like the Cracked I knew before. Will I still feel like I'm reading a comic book? Will there still be TV show parodies? And political humor? How much space will be devoted to the lifestyle stuff? Will the cover be illustrated?

Monty: There's been some information leaked out on the Internet about what will and won't be in the new magazine. Some of it's true, some of it's off base. Without getting into specifics, what I can tell you is that the new Cracked will be different than its previous incarnation in many ways, but will be the same in one essential way: Cracked will continue to parody politics, pop culture and society.

How we go about fulfilling that mission is what is entirely new and fresh. Cracked has been around for over 47 years. In an age of computers, cable and the Internet, it doesn't make sense to only use hand-drawn comics to satirize the complexities of our culture. That approach is the equivalent of an artist who has only one color of paint on his palette.

I also think that if you go back and look at the original Cracked magazines from the late 1950s and '60s, you will find that there was a sophistication and edginess that the magazine gradually lost over the years. It went from being a magazine for teenagers and young adults to gradually appealing to a younger and younger audience. If anything, we're trying to go back to our roots by making the magazine smart again. Our goal is intelligent irreverence.

Rumor has it that financing is from a group of Arab investors. True?

Jack: Let's just say we're monitoring the price of oil very closely.

Justin: America, keep driving your SUV's. Thank you.

Monty: Actually, our investor base is another one of those things that people speculate about and keep reporting incorrectly on the Internet, like they do with celebrity nipple slips. In reality, we have a pretty large and diverse group of investors behind us. The group includes over 50 investors from eight countries. Some of the investors are Arab, but most of the financing is from Asia and the United States.

Didn't the offices of Cracked get anthraxed back in 2001?

Monty: The anthrax incident was under the previous owner. Cracked was still located in American Media's offices in Florida in 2001, and it was American Media that received the anthrax. Cracked was just along for the ride. (American Media is the publisher of The National Enquirer).

Justin: We just inhaled some anthrax left over in the old issues. Send help. Please.

Jack: Was that anthrax? I thought it was coke.

You're publishing out of NYC now though, right?

Monty: Yes. And with the exception of the past five years, when Cracked was briefly owned by American Media and then sold to a former American Media staffer, Cracked has always been based in New York. Historically, Cracked enjoyed its greatest success here. Immediately after the acquisition, I moved the magazine back to New York. It's actually interesting that our current Worldwide Headquarters are only a few blocks up Park Avenue from where Cracked was based for a long time. So bringing Cracked back to New York was a homecoming of sorts, and it made perfect sense in terms of operations -- being able to attract experienced professionals to come work for the magazine and in our being able to reach out to writers and artists.

 

Cathy Hannan rocks it regularly at LostAndFrowned.com.