"al jaffee"

Al Jaffee's MAD Life: how a traumatized kid from the shtetl became an American satire icon

Back in 2010, It Books published Mary-Lou Weisman's biography of MAD Magazine icon Al Jaffee: Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biography; I missed it then but happened upon Arie Kaplan's 2011 writeup in The Jewish Review of Books this morning and was charmed by the biographical sketch it lays out. Read the rest

In 1956, Hugh Hefner gave MAD's founding editor an unlimited budget for a new satire magazine called "TRUMP"

Harvey Kurtzman is a hero of satire, the guy who convinced Bill Gaines's mother to bankroll a comic book called MAD, then doubled down by turning MAD into a magazine -- only to jump ship five issues later after a bizarre fight with the Gaineses, finding refuge with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner who gave him an unlimited budget to start an all-star, high-quality satire magazine called TRUMP, which lasted for two legendary, prized issues, now collected in a gorgeous hardcover from Dark Horse. Read the rest

Drew Friedman's "Heroes Of The Comics" exhibition

The great illustrator Drew Friedman will be exhibiting the portraits he painted for Heroes of the Comics and More Heroes of the Comics at the Museum of Illustration in NYC May 2 to June 3, 2017. (Read my reviews here and here).

Drew Friedman’s two recent books Heroes of the Comics and More Heroes of the Comics, published by Fantagraphics books, depicted the great early comic book creators who entered into the dawn of the business between 1935–1955, a milestone in the early history of comic books. The Museum of Illustration at the Society of Illustrators is proud to present 100 original, meticulous color illustrations from Friedman’s two books.

Among the colorful subjects are comics pioneer Max (M.C.) Gaines, the creators of Superman Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Superman publishers Harry Donenfled and Jack Liebowitz, and comic book legends including Batman creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Will Eisner, (the subject of a large concurrent exhibition also at SI celebrating his 100th birthday), Jack Kirby, Martin Goodman, Harvey Kurtzman, Stan Lee, Wally Wood, William M. Gaines, C.C. Beck, Joe Kubert, Jack Cole, Steve Ditko, Al Jaffee, Carl Barks, Jules Feiffer, James Warren, and many more. Also included in the gallery will be several early female creators including Marie Severin and author Patricia Highsmith who began her career writing for comics, and several African American creators, among them Matt Baker, Alvin Hollingsworth and Orrin C. Evans. The greats and the near greats, many long forgotten with the passage of time but who deserve recognition for their work, now revived in Friedman’s two books and this exhibition.

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Listen: interview with Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee: 'the longest working cartoonist in history'

Brian from the Recommend if You Like podcast sez, "For episode 200 (MP3), we sat down for a 90 minute interview with Mad Magazine's Al Jaffee, who, at the age of 95 holds the title of 'the longest working cartoonist in history.'" Read the rest

Interview with 95-year-old MAD cartoonist Al Jaffee

MAD "Fold-In" artist Al Jaffee has been a professional cartoonist for 73 years. Guinness World Records has certified him as the oldest working cartoonist. Sam Thielman of The Guardian recently interviewed Jaffee about his brilliant career.

Was there a particular kind of baloney you were attracted to satirizing?

Well, yes. The world is full of bloviators. And you find them in politics, and even religion, if I may say so, where somebody appoints themselves the spokesman for God. And this kind of stuff, when there’s someone on the public scene who’s really going beyond his duties as a politician or a religious leader or a sportsman, he’s fair game. The main thing about Mad is that it’s not a preachy magazine. It’s not selling one kind of politics or one kind of religion or sports team or anything like that.

The main thing is to keep your eyes and ears open and when you hear something that’s clearly baloney, such as “eight out of 10 doctors smoke Chesterfield cigarettes” – these are ads that actually ran! One of the tobacco companies had the nerve to claim that doctors prefer their cigarettes. So it’s easy to shoot down that kind of bull.

But you do it with a gentle hand, you don’t preach and say “tobacco kills! How can these doctors do that?!” No, you just go them one step further and say, “In addition to eight out of 10 doctors smoking this brand of cigarette, in their time off, they each drink a gallon of bourbon, which also has health benefits.”

You can can let the air out of individual bloviators but they keep cropping back up.
Read the rest

Drew Friedman's stupendous "More Heroes of the Comics" (Plus NYC EVENT 10/18/16)

I raved about Heroes of the Comics when it came out in 2014. Now I'm going to rave about More Heroes of the Comics, the new companion volume. This large book has 100 meticulous color paintings of people who were involved in the early days of comic books, painted by Drew Friedman, the great portraitist of our time. Each hero portrait is accompanied by an interesting one-page biography.

While Friedman's first book covered the famous heavy hitters of comics (Kirby, Barks, Kurtzman, Wood), More Heroes digs deeper, profiling people who deserve recognition for their work, even though it was sometimes behind the scenes. I'd say about 75% of the names were familiar to me (Otto Binder, Ray Bradbury, Gene Colan, Dan DeCarlo, Jim Warren, John Buscema) while the other 25% were new, and, for that reason, even more interesting (Olive Bailey, Bob Haney, Louis Ferstadt - colorful characters!).

The two volume Heroes set, is scholarly and popular at the same time, and represents a milestone in the early history of comic books. Drew Friedman himself is a hero of comics for making it.

Also, there's an event tonight about the book at the Museum of Illustration in NYC. Drew Friedman will be signing advance copies of the book and join in conversation with Karen Green, MAD's Al Jaffee, and moderator Danny Fingeroth. Also, Jim Warren, the legendary publisher of Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, and Famous Monsters of Filmland, will be there with Drew. I wish I could be there. Read the rest

Exclusive: sneak peek at Al Jaffee's new MAD Fold-In

The back cover of MAD #539 features a Fold-In by newcomer Al Jaffee, who has only been cartooning for 73 years (61 with MAD). He shows promise, and I hope Mr. Jaffee (who turned 95 in March) enjoys a long career with the magazine.

The editors of MAD kindly gave Boing Boing dibs on being first to reveal the Fold-In, below:

And here's the cover, by fan favorite MAD artist, Tom Richmond:

This issue will be available on digital April 8 and on newsstands April 19. Subscribe here!

(In 2011, Ruben Bolling and I interviewed Al Jaffee on Gweek.) Read the rest

Solving the "Longbow Puzzle": why did France and Scotland keep their inferior crossbows?

The longbow was vastly, demonstrably superior to the crossbow, but only England adopted it as a common military weapon; the Scots and French stuck with the inferior crossbow for nearly a century -- why? Read the rest

Dick Cavett & Al Jaffee talk cartooning in a limo

Jeff Newelt says: "Here's a video of a deep sublime conversation between Dick Cavett and Al Jaffee about cartooning... in a limo!"

Jeff wrote about the meeting in Heeb Read the rest

Father's Day: Gaiman's Fortunately the Milk

Neil Gaiman's 2013 young adult novel Fortunately, the Milk was a fabulous tribute to dads and their ability to troll their kids with bald-faced, outlandish lies. It's narrated by a boy whose mother is away on a business trip, and whose father had to go out to the corner store for a pint of milk for the cereal and his tea. Read the rest

Fortunately the Milk: Gaiman's kid-novel is a tribute to fatherly trolling

Neil Gaiman's illustrated children's novel Fortunately the Milk is a magnificent tribute to the fatherly art of trolling kids with straightfaced, outlandish tales. It's narrated by a boy whose mother is away on a business trip, and whose father had to go out to the corner store for a pint of milk for the cereal and his tea. Dad takes an unconscionably long time getting the milk, and when he returns, the narrator and his little sister accuse Dad of having stopped to gossip at the store. Not so, insists Dad, who proceeds to explain exactly what happened while he was out getting the milk.

It's an astounding tale, starting with an alien abduction, moving swiftly onto a space-time journey to the ship of a vicious pirate queen and a near-death plank-walking, a daring rescue by a time-travelling dinosaur scientist in a hot-air-balloon time machine, and thence through interference with a pre-Colombian human sacrifice, and many, many other adventures, including several involving temporal paradoxes. Read the rest

My picks on Bullseye: Blocksworld and Adventure Time Encyclopaedia

On the latest episode of Bullseye with Jesse Thorn I recommended the iPad app Blocksworld and The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia.

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things." He joins us to share some of his recent finds.

This time, it's The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and the iPad game Blocksworld.

The Cartoon Network's show Adventure Time is ostensibly for children, but eagerly devoured by people of all ages. It follows the psychedelic adventures of a boy named Finn and his dog Jake. The new Adventure Time Encyclopedia, "translated" by comedy writer Martin Olson, features new original artwork and everything you ever wanted to know about the post-apocalyptic land of Oooo. Mark also suggests downloading the Blocksworld app for iPad, a virtual Lego-like world with huge creative possibilities.

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Mark's Bullseye picks: Good Dog and Super Durak

In the latest episode of Bullseye with Jesse Thorn I talked about the graphic novel Good Dog and the iPhone version of the Russian card game Durak, called Super Durak. (Durak means idiot in Russian. There's no winner in the card game, just a loser - the durak.) Read the rest

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman - a short film

Damen Corrado from Imperium Pictures let me know about this nice video tribute to MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman. He says "it features a lot of his work from the current exhibition at the Society of Illustrators in NYC, and interviews with Al Jaffee and Bob Grossman, with a jazz soundtrack by Nik Turner of Hawkwind."

Cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993) founded the satirical MAD magazine in 1952 and forever altered the way young readers experienced the media and consumer culture around them. As the late film critic Roger Ebert explained, “I learned to be a movie critic by reading MAD magazine. I learned a lot of other things from the magazine too, including a whole new slant on society. MAD’s parodies made me aware of the machine inside the skin–of the way a movie might look original on the outside, while inside it was just recycling the same dumb old formulas. I did not read the magazine, I plundered it for clues to the universe.”

After MAD, Kurtzman worked with a team of artists including Al Jaffee, Jack Davis and Will Elder on a series of short-lived but influential publications, including Trump, Humbug and Help! At Help!, a fortuitous nexus of nascent sketch comedy and underground “comix,” Kurtzman worked with then unknowns Woody Allen, Gloria Steinem and R. Crumb, among many others. Terry Gilliam, who met John Cleese while working there, considered Kurtzman “one of the godparents of Monty Python.”

The Society of Illustrators in NYC is hosting a retrospective exhibition on Harvey Kurtzman through May 11, 2013

Previously: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics Read the rest

Mark's book and game recommendations on Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

On the current episode of Bullseye with Jesse Thorn I recommended two "culture picks" --

This week's recommendations come from Boing Boing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder. His first suggestion is Bunk!, a game for iOS that makes good use of your vocabulary, your friends, and your ability to convincingly make stuff up. Looking for something to read? He also suggests Marijuanamerica [reviewed on Boing Boing], a new book about a man who tours the US to understand America's love/hate relationship with pot.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi, Catherine O'Hara, and Pop Culture Advice Read the rest

Celebrating Harvey Kurtzman - panel in NYC 3/19/2013

The Society of Illustrators in New York is holding a panel discussion on 3/19/2013 about MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman, with Drew Friedman, Robert Grossman, Al Jaffee, and Arnold Roth. It will be moderated by Peter Kuper. Wow - what a line-up!

Celebrating Kurtzman Read the rest

MAD magazine documentary on Kickstarter

The trailer for this MAD magazine documentary looks good! The filmmaker has interviewed a lot of the surviving gang of idiots. There are 3 days left to go and it's very close to being fully funded.

Previously:

Al Jaffee on Gweek

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics

Robert Crumb writes a short, sad story about the career of MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman

Will Elder, RIP

Will Elder documentary project on Kickstarter Read the rest

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