Al Jaffee, Mad magazine's longest-running contributor, dies at 102
Al Jaffee, an award-winning and record-breaking cartoonist for Mad magazine, has died. He was 102.
Jaffee worked for Mad for 65 years, easily the magazine's longest contributor, and with a career running from 1942 to 2020, he holds the Guinness World Record for longest career as a comics artist.
As reported by the AP, Jaffee's granddaughter confirmed his death from multiple organ failure in Manhattan on Monday.
Jaffee left his mark on popular culture with the creation of the Mad Fold-In, a satirical response to Playboy's foldouts, in which one image with a question folds in to become another image with an answer. Mad and Jaffee had a particular influence on The Simpsons, which made many references to the magazine and at least two to the Fold-Ins, including this bit from season 7's "Team Homer."
In the same episode, Homer tries out his own "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions," another feature created by Jaffee, offering, well, snappy answers to stupid questions. A talented illustrator, Jaffee created blueprints in Mad for fake inventions, some that inspired actual inventions, such as the self-extinguishing cigarette, snowboarding, and multi-blade razors.
Jaffee was born in Savannah, Ga. on March 13, 1921. He began working as a comic book artist in 1942 for Joker Comics. He went on to work for Timely Comics and Atlas Comics, names for the company that would eventually become Marvel Comics.
Jaffee's work first appeared in Mad in 1955 and in 1964 he created his first Fold-In — featuring the Brangelina of the day, Elizabeth Taylor, who had just left her husband Eddie Fisher for the also-married Richard Burton. The Fold-In was intended to be a one-off but proved so popular that it became one of Mad's signatures.
Jaffee's last Fold-In appeared in the June 2019 issue of Mad, and his work appeared for the last time in the magazine in December of that year. By that time, Mad had effectively ceased publication, ending its 67-year run. Out of its 550 issues, Jaffee had worked on 500. In 2020, at age 99, Jaffee retired from cartooning all together.
In addition to his Guinness World Record, Jaffee was recognized with a number of awards and honors including the Reuben Awards' Cartoonist of the Year in 2008 and an induction into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 2013 during that year's San Diego ComicCon.