August 6 – August 13, 2009 Edition

Random House Republishes Spy vs Spy Series

Once in a great while a lost piece of our cultural history is returned to us. With the publication of Spy vs. Spy! Danger! Intrigue! Stupidity!, Spy vs Spy! Masters of Mayhem, and Spy vs Spy! Missions of Madness (Watson Guptill, $11.99 each; August 2009) a new generation will be able to appreciate the classic misadventures of  The Black Spy and The White Spy — episodes that have been lost to the public for more than four decades.

Spy vs Spy was the brainchild of Cuban-born political cartoonist Antonio Prohias – whose story is truly remarkable.  On July 12, 1960, Prohias arrived at the New York offices of MAD Magazine. He had come to America two months earlier, after the new Cuban dictator—Fidel Castro—issued death threats to Prohias and his family.  Prohias spoke no English, but the drawings he had with him of two pointy-nosed characters were more than enough to catch MAD’s attention.

What followed was a prodigious career spanning decades, and at its center, Spy vs Spy. The Black Spy and The White Spy, masters of their own mutual destruction, became a cultural touchstone for generations of readers, representing the senseless of war. Although Prohias died in 1998, his Spy vs Spy comic strip continues to be one of the magazine’s best-loved features, as well as a pop culture hallmark. 

JOHN FICARRA, the editor of MAD magazine, wrote the forewords to all three Spy books.  He also wrote this brief bio, which he considers his finest work to date.