Today’s Hi and Lois makes a joke about virtual backgrounds in video app meetings. I’ve seen plenty of video-meeting comics in the last year or so, and maybe a few touching on virtual backgrounds, but this particular one triggered a memory for me:
The memory it triggered was of a MAD Magazine story about fake backgrounds for video calls. The technology it used was “camera phones” — which did exist, but not as an everyday thing generally available to the public — and with fake backgrounds being provided not electronically but as physical backdrops that could be pulled down from a spring-loaded roller, like a certain kind of window shade.
I recalled the piece going thru a series of examples like “Fool your boss”, “Fool your wife”, etc., and finally a “Fool Yourself” where the wrong backdrop was chosen. In today’s cartoon, Hi is almost doing a “Fool Yourself”, if he were using a virtual background but accidentally used a beach or other recreation scene while talking about being in a sickbed or maybe hard at work at his home office.
In trying to track down the MAD piece, my first partial success, with two panels of the MAD story, was at a Peewee’s Playhouse site, in a two-step indirection story that I didn’t entirely follow. But that gave me the 1957 date and the name of the artist, George Woodbridge.
That led soon enough to a Tumblr for MAD fans, and this full image of the original piece!