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The comedian created a humorous magazine about the New York subway: passengers are delighted, the MTA is not so much


Alina Prikhodko

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The New York City subway now has its own unofficial magazine. According to New York Post, the only way to get one is to ride the subway until you find at least one copy.

Public Transport Magazine is a free publication that publishes stories and cartoons of famous people. "The Simpsons" writer Steve Young and New Yorker cartoonist Edward Steed create the illustrations and copy, and the magazine's founder, comedian Al Mullen, independently distributes it throughout the subway system.

The video editor and comedian wanted to reach a wider and more diverse audience than the one he usually sees at his stand-up shows. This week the fourth episode appeared on the stations. I just thought, “I wonder if I can find a way to bring my comedy to the masses in a unique way?” Mullen explained.

He creates the DIY edition in his Bed-Stuy apartment, then leaves copies in subway stations around the city: on train cars, on benches and platforms, even next to public art, such as the bronze sculptures of Tom Otterness at the 14th Street Station. L. He placed issues in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and suspects they made it to the Bronx by train.

Star authors

Each episode has its own theme, and the latest one was dedicated to dirt in all its forms. This issue includes a message of lost opportunity from Vanity Fair writer Mike Sachs, “Excerpts from My Own Sordid Hall of Shame” from acclaimed cartoonist Emily Flake, and a cover illustration from Steed. By the way, he also created the cover for the Father John Misty album “Pure Comedy”, which received a Grammy in 2017.

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“When creating Public Transport, I wanted it to have an element of madness. But at the same time, the people who participate in the project are truly successful, accomplished individuals,” Mullen noted.

He released the edition in May 2022 with a print run of 200 copies and was supported by fan feedback. Mullen has since increased circulation to 5, costing him about $000 out of pocket—the magazine does not advertise.

Passenger reaction

According to the creator, audience reactions range from fascinated to confused. He remembers MTA workers picking up copies and looking at them with bewilderment. Their faces said, “Wow, okay, another weird thing. This is New York."

Costume designer Annie Yonge spotted the magazine sticking out of the advertising slot in January 2023, but it was taken away right in front of her nose. On her next trip on the A train to Penn Station, the girl finally found her copy. Yonge then approached Mullen about participating in the project—and now she is a volunteer distributor.

“It just became a game for me,” Yonge explained. “It makes my commute more enjoyable.”

True, while Mullen's goal of “losing less money” with the magazine remains distant, Public Transport has already fulfilled one of his desires: “I wanted to accidentally find someone and make them happy.”

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