MAD Magazine legend Al Jaffee retires at age 99

Best known for his "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" and the ever-ubiquitous MAD Fold-In, cartoonist Al Jaffee has retired today at the age of 99, making him the longest working cartoonist in history.

Jaffee began his career working for Marvel pre-cursors Timely and Atlas Comics in the early 1940s but settled into his lifelong position with the usual gang of idiots at Mad Magazine beginning in 1955. It 1964, he cultivated one of mankind's all-time greatest inventions: the fold-in. It was always a dilemma - how to fold it just enough to see the hidden image without ruining the entire back cover?

Jaffee talks about the origin of his other most enduring gag series, Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, in this video from Heeb Magazine founder Jeff Newelt .

Let's honor his life's achievements by making our own Fold-In and Snappy Answer tributes today.

Q: Why did Al Jaffee retire?

A: He decided to pursue his actual lifelong dream and become a stuntman.

A: MAD Magazine reneged on his contract by neglecting to pick all of the green M&M's out of his backstage catering tray.

A: He felt like waiting until 100 was just showing off.

From The Washington Post:

Jaffee said in a 2016 Baltimore Comic-Con session that hardship sharpened his humor. He was born in Savannah, Ga., but life grew rough during the six years of childhood he spent on a shtetl in his mother’s Zarasai — what he called “the Siberia of Lithuania” — with food in short supply and no running waters or toys.

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Happy 99th birthday to MAD cartoonist Al Jaffee, and scans of my snappy answers I wrote as a kid

The great Al Jaffee turned 99 last week. He's been contributing to MAD for 64 years and is famous for his hidden-image-within-an-image MAD Fold-Ins on the inside back cover of the magazine. Happy belated birthday, Al! (Back in 2011, when Al was just a kid, Ruben Bolling and I interviewed him on my podcast, Gweek.)

A couple of weeks ago I visited my parents and found a bunch of my old books and comic books in the attic. I found my copy of MAD's Al Jaffee Spews Out Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, which I bought when I was 10 or 11 years old. I was surprised to see that I had filled in some snappy answers of my own to stupid questions.

"No, it's last year's hard-t0-melt snow."

"No, I'm inspecting the quality of my pillow."

[My 11-year-old self drew a blank for this one.]

"No, but are you interested in buying some lizard coffins?"

What are your snappy answers to these stupid questions? 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.”

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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

Al Jaffee portrait print by Drew Friedman

Our pal Drew Friedman drew this portrait of Al Jaffee, the beloved MAD magazine writer and artist.

Jaffee made his MAD debut in 1955 and joined the "Usual Gang of Idiots" in 1958. Since 1964, only one issue of MAD has been published without new material by Jaffee. He innovated the MAD back cover "Fold-In," which became a recurring feature, and his "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" arguably encouraged subsequent generations of snarky teens.

(Ruben Bolling and I interviewed Al on Gweek last year and it was a thrill to speak with him.)

Al Jaffee fine art print by Drew Friedman Read the rest