We’ve gathered some of the funniest, most celebrated writers and artists from several generations, with the idea of resurrecting — and improving! — the classic humor magazine format.
Using print-on-demand publishing and the ability of the internet to collect like-minded people, we can provide books at a fair price while paying our contributors. (Paid work, what a concept.) And they keep the rights to their material.
But we need your help. Newsstands are a mug’s game, and advertisers hate humor magazines. That’s why there hasn’t been a new one since the late 90s. The American Bystander uses a super-lean publishing model where the money comes from readers — like the old MAD, minus the newsstands. The web is our newsstand; it’s always open, and you don’t have to deal with guys nicknamed “Jimmy Three-Fingers.”
The implosion of book and magazine publishing has left a lot of established artists and writers with no way to reach the readers who love their stuff. And for younger talents, an always-difficult career is now practically impossible. We just couldn’t take it anymore, folks, we had to do something…so we created The American Bystander. What happens next is up to you.
We need to sell around 3,000 copies of each issue to pay our costs. (Until then, Mike is totally breaking Santa Monica’s new minimum-wage law.) Everybody’s working for peanuts, because we think that America should have a stable, permanent home for magazine-style humor and cartoons, regardless of the ups and downs of technology or the whims of billionaires.
Things have started splendidly: Issue #1 made its Kickstarter in four days. As soon as #1 dropped, people immediately started baying for #2—which got 20% more backers. Work is beginning on #3, #4, and #5, but we still need more readers. At just 3,000 backers, we’ll be unkillable. At 5,000, we’ll start offering annual subscriptions. (We need a print run that large to offer the kinds of discounts that readers expect.) The more we sell, the lower our price can go… and the more we can pay our writers and artists. Which is the whole point, right? Right.
Inside Issue #1
Publisher’s Letter by Michael Gerber • Connie and the Fifth Time by Brian McConnachie • Treasure Hunting by Julia Wertz • Dear Trusting Sir or Madam… by Steve Young • Preparation Anxiety by Joey Green • A Day in the Life of an Empowered Female Heroine by Mallory Ortberg • David Hockney’s Tricks of the Masters by Mike Reiss • Truly Blessed by Jonathan Schwarz • Call Me Mr. Lucky by Dave Hanson • Fast and Loose by George Meyer • Inspirational Animal Stories #1: The Motivational Tiger by Brian McConnachie • Sizing Up Champagne by Sport Murphy • Boyfriend by Liana Finck • A Brief History of Sandwich Theory by Daniel Immerwahr & Sam Means • Elevator Conversations by River Clegg • Our Coffee Is the Best by David Etkin • Johnny Bullwhip by Brian McConnachie • Kids’ Advice to Lincoln by Jack Handey • The Painter of Pain by Ron Barrett • The Old Codger’s Almanac by Mark O’Donnell & Christopher Austopchuk • The Road Warrior (The Radio Version) by George Meyer • The Truthful Telephone by Terry Jones • Yardwork by Brian McConnachie • Interview: Josh Alan Friedman by Mike Sacks • Goodnight Moon, Hello Martini by Sloane Tanen & Stefan Hagen • Post-Life Survey by Roz Chast • Back of the Bus by Al Jean • Atlas Slugged Again by Ellis Weiner • Chekhov’s Mother by R.O. Blechman • Are You a Middle-Aged Hipster? by Mimi Pond • Notes From Janitorgod by Dennis Perrin • John Wilcock: The New York Years by Scott Marshall & Ethan Persoff • A Dream of Consequence by M.K. Brown.
With art and illustration by Ron Barrett, Kate Beaton, Louisa Bertman, R.O. Blechman, Chris Bonno, M.K. Brown, John Caldwell, Roz Chast, Seymour Chwast, Liza Donnelly, Xeth Feinberg, Liana Finck, Emily Flake, Shary Flenniken, Patricia Gerber, Robert Grossman, Stefan Hagen, Ron Hauge, Danny Hellman, Farley Katz, Adam Koford, Ken Krimstein, Eugenia Loli, Scott Marshall, Ethan Persoff, Mimi Pond, Arnold Roth, Cris Shapan, Mark Simonson, Grant Snider, Edward Sorel, Akiko Stehrenberger, Tom Toro, D. Watson, Julia Wertz, Nathan Yoder, Steve Young, and Jack Ziegler.
Inside Issue #2
Frontispiece: Easter Island by Bill Lee • Publisher’s Letter by Michael Gerber • Talk Talk Talk by Liana Finck • The Woman Who Forgot by MK Brown • Gallimaufry by Mallory Ortberg, John Howell Harris, Jack Silbert, David Misch, Matthew Grzecki, Jack Handey, Paul Lander, Megan Koester, Mike Shear, Jay Ruttenberg, Matthew Powers, Dennis Perrin, Mark Bazer, The Covert Comic, Al Jean, Eric Branscum, Katie Schwartz, Ryan Nyburg, River Clegg, Joey Green, Geoffrey Golden and Sean Kelly • The Great Pretenders by Julia Wertz • Musicians You Should Know by Jay Ruttenberg & Mike Reddy • Jury Selection by Simon Rich • Eleven Short Stories by Jack Handey • 8PM – Curb Your Enthusiasm by Megan Koester • Have A Nice Day, Forever by Doug Kirby & Ken Smith • If Stanley Tucci Was Your Boyfriend by Mallory Ortberg • Welcome to Infinity World by John Howell Harris • Unbroken by Dave Hanson • What I Will Say To The Three People At My Book Reading by Merrill Markoe • The Ding-Dong Hoodlum Priest by Brian McConnachie • The Right Drink for Any Occasion by Michael Thornton • Leash-less in Seattle by Shary Flenniken • Just So You Know by Bill Franzen • The Mad Mascot of Soho by Ron Barrett • The End by Nell Scovell • Odd Birds by Rick Meyerowitz and Sean Kelly • #sicsemperpapyrus by Todd Hanson • I Love My Gun by Seymour Chwast • The Dracula Letters by Jack Handey and Brian McConnachie • The Elements of Strunk by Jamie Brew • Interview: Sam Lipsyte by Mike Sacks • What Went Wrong by Steve Young • I Conquered Kilimanjaro (…Nearly!) by Mike Reiss • Anapest by David Chelsea • With Bells On by Dave Hill • Making My Amends by Merrill Markoe • Zayde’s First Blow Job by Katie Schwartz • There Are No Free Elephant Rides in Life by Brian McConnachie • I Can Teach Anyone To Play Piano! by Michael Ian Black • Whether Report by Peter Kuper • Public Hair by Julia Wertz and Laura Park • The Day Dad Came to Breakfast by Howard Cruse • John Wilcock: New York Years — Jean Shepherd by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall • Towel Off! by Nate Bramble • The Diary of Merrill Markoe by Merrill Markoe • What’s An Aging Hipster to Do? by Mimi Pond • Crossword #1: “Comic Duo-logues” by Matthew Matera and Alan Goldberg
With cartoons & illustrations by Ron Barrett, Charles Barsotti, Kate Beaton, Louisa Bertman, Chris Bonno, M.K. Brown, Roz Chast, David Chelsea, Seymour Chwast, John Cuneo, Liza Donnelly, Xeth Feinberg, Liana Finck, Shary Flenniken, Rick Geary, David Geiser, Pia Guerra, Sam Henderson, Brandon Hicks, Farley Katz, Ken Krimstein, Peter Kuper, Rick Meyerowitz, P.S. Mueller, Joe Oesterle, David Owen, Jonathan Plotkin, Mike Reddy, Marc Rosenthal, Cris Shapan, Mark Simonson, Michael Sloan, Mick Stevens, Len Stokes, B.K. Taylor, Tom Toro, D. Watson, Julia Wertz, Shannon Wheeler, Derek Yaniger, and Jack Ziegler.
Get updates on future issues, secret projects, special events, and God only knows what else. Why the heck not?
Reach Out and Touch Us
Media inquiries and general questions can be directed to Michael Gerber at “Publisher [at] Americanbystander [dot] org.”
Submissions should go through our Submittable page, where you will find a complete set of Submission Guidelines. If you have been recommended by one of our staff, please mention that in your cover letter.
We’re running this on a skeleton crew, so please be patient. Mike is ridiculously busy setting all this up, but he will reply as soon as he can.