We recently delivered a stack of National Lampoon covers from the 1970s; now, it’s time to look at the 1980s. While most would argue the content of the magazine had lost some of its mojo, the cover quality remained at least until the end of the decade.
Alas, the 1980s was the decade where National Lampoon went from the top of the world (with films like Animal House and Vacation), enjoying wide readership…. to falling off a cliff, with declining quality, financial troubles and desperate bailouts. The writers who gave the magazine its edge had long-since left, and all that remained was a brand that would soon be licensed to straight-to-DVD garbage.
It’s a sad story, but at least we have these wonderful covers to remind us of the good old days, when National Lampoon was still the place for intelligent and irreverent humor.
Alas, by this time the magazine had gone to a bi-monthly format, and there was a significant downturn in cover quality. The brand had, sadly, lost its edge and the company’s finances were dire. In 1989 the company was actually bought by Tim Matheson, the guy who played “Otter” in Animal House. They increased the number of ads per issue, but it didn’t really help matters.
In 1991, the company was again sold; this time to J2 Communications – the same company that produced those awful “Dorf” videos starring Tim Conway.
J2 didn’t have much interest in the magazine, and it was allowed to die off. They only released one issue per year, with it’s final issue in 1998. J2 was interested in the National Lampoon brand, and it licensed it to movies – mostly straight to DVD garbage. An awful demise to a magazine that once was the cutting edge of adult comedy which had spawned such great films (Animal House, Vacation) and writers such as John Hughes. All good things must come to an end I suppose. National Lampoon R.I.P.