The late Al Jaffee, the pioneering Mad magazine cartoonist and inventor of the “fold-in”, worked for the publication for seven decades and retired when he was 99 years old.
Al Jaffee died at the age of 102 on Monday in a Manhattan hospital of multi-system organ failure, according to his granddaughter who spoke to the New York Times.
Jaffee held the Guinness record for longest career in cartooning and was known for inventing several of Mad’s most famous regulars, including Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions and the magazine’s iconic “fold-in”.
This illustration ran on the back inside cover of every issue and, when folded, revealed a second hidden image.
Originally designed to mock the centrefolds in magazines such as Playboy, it became Jaffee’s most enduring creation.
Interview With The Guardian
In an interview with the Guardian in 2016, Jaffee, then 95 years old, spoke about his belief that satire was becoming harder in the face of politicians who felt no shame about lying. “I think they’re defeating Mad, because they’re going beyond anything we can think of doing to show the clownish nature of their claims,” he said. “It used to be that politicians claimed that they would make jobs for everybody in the country within two years or something like that; now they claim that they’re going to make jobs for everybody on Mars.”
Jaffee was born Abraham Jaffee in 1921 in Atlanta and began working in comics soon after graduating high school.
He sold a parody of Superman, titled Inferior Man, to comic heavyweight Will Eisner when he was just 20 years old, and a year later began working for soon-to-be Marvel titan Stan Lee.
He began going by the name Al during the second world war, as a way to protect himself from antisemitism. During the war, he worked at the Pentagon, making pamphlets and posters for the war effort.