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.

Read the rest

Pee-wee Herman reveals the inspiration behind the Playhouse's Picture Phone: MAD Magazine!

Today I learned that Pee-wee's Picture Phone was inspired by MAD Magazine!

So, there's this story going around about a guy who fooled his coworkers into thinking he lived in a luxury apartment. By sitting in front a backdrop he printed out and taped together of an "apartment interior," he made them believe he was living in a nicer, and cleaner, place than he actually does.

Ok, so, the man, software engineer Andrew Ecklel, said he was inspired by the Picture Phone from Pee-wee's Playhouse. If you remember, Pee-wee would answer calls from his Picture Phone in front of a variety of backdrops, usually in a coordinating costume.

Well, Pee-wee heard Andrew's story and wrote a blog post about it. In it, he reveals his own inspiration for the Picture Phone — MAD Magazine!

He writes, "This was featured in a 1957 issue. I saw it years later and was inspired to bring it into my Playhouse!! I bet you didn’t know that!! We used a different backdrop for every call for all five seasons. We never repeated one. Many times I had a hat or some kind of prop or both that went with the backdrop. True story!"

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image via Andrew Eckel/Imgur, screengrabs via Pee-wee's Playhouse, MAD Magazine image via Steve Bellovin Read the rest

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

Sticker portrait of Alfred E. Neuman (RIP, MAD)

Noah Scalin (previously) writes, "I'm so devastated to learn about Mad magazine's imminent demise. I just recently finished my own portrait of Alfred E. Neuman, made from stickers, inspired by the reboot of the magazine (which features new works by artists inspired by growing up reading Mad). Mad was such a seminal part of my childhood. As a budding activist I loved seeing popular culture, politics and advertising skewered in such a clever & subversive way (as children's entertainment!). The world is losing a shining beacon just as it needs it most." Read the rest

MAD Magazine gets a reboot

MAD Magazine has made the move from New York City to Los Angeles, relaunching itself with a new logo and staff (for instance, the magazine has its first female art director, Suzanne Hutchinson, aka Suzy Splab).

Issue #1 has already hit the newsstands.

Here's what's in store:

Introducing MAD's first issue EVER*, featuring full-length spoofs of Star Wars and Riverdale! Plus, "A MAD Look at Harassment" from Sergio Aragonés, "Pop Culture That Didn't Make It Into Ready Player One," an all-new Potrzebie Comics section, The MADifesto, Spy vs. Spy, the Fold-In, and much more! (*Technically, this is our first magazine-format #1 issue ever!)Introducing MAD's first issue EVER*, featuring full-length spoofs of Star Wars and Riverdale! Plus, "A MAD Look at Harassment" from Sergio Aragonés, "Pop Culture That Didn't Make It Into Ready Player One," an all-new Potrzebie Comics section, The MADifesto, Spy vs. Spy, the Fold-In, and much more! (*Technically, this is our first magazine-format #1 issue ever!)

I noticed you that if you get a 2 or 3 year subscription, they'll send you a little tiki mug that looks like Alfred E. Neuman. Want!

WELCOME TO THE ALL-NEW, SOMEWHAT-FAMILIAR MAD!

Issue #1's cover art by Jason Edmiston

(Pee-wee Herman) Read the rest

Spy vs Spy is and was the best thing about MAD

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

As a kid, my favorite thing about MAD was “Spy vs Spy.” (I didn’t know that “vs” stood for “versus” so I pronounced the comic “spyvisspy.”) The strips were excellently drawn and plotted, and were the most appealing part of the magazine to me. It was a wordless one-page comic about two oddly pointy faced spies, one dressed in black and the other dressed in white. Other than their different colored outfits, they behaved identically. They hated each other and created elaborate Rube Goldberg type machines to try to kill each other. Sometimes their machines worked, often, they’d backfire. They were tricky but usually too clever for their own good.

This anthology colorizes 150 “Spy vs Spy” comics drawn by Antonio Prohías from 1961 until his death in 1987. The book also includes a collection of “Spy vs Spy” comics by the talented cartoonist Peter Kuper, who took over the strip when Prohías died. The anthology features a section of wonderful “Spy vs Spy” tribute drawings by noted cartoonists such as Peter Bagge, Bob Staake, Darwyn Cooke, Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, and Bill Sienkiewicz. There’s also a biography of the Cuban-born Prohíasm and a new 4-page color strip by MAD luminary Sergio Aragones about his friendship with Prohías. With all the new material here, this book is a must for anyone who loves “Spy vs Spy.”

Spy Vs Spy: An Explosive Celebration

by Antonio Prohías and Peter Kuper

Liberty Street

2015, 224 pages, 8.8 Read the rest