Al Jaffee, the award-winning cartoonist best known for his work with MAD magazine died yesterday from organ failure. He was 102.
Al Jaffee attended the High School of Music & Art in New York City. There he met Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, John Severin, and Al Feldstein all of whom would go on to work for MAD magazine and become noted cartoonists.
Mr. Jaffee’s career began in 1942 when he began getting work from Joker Comics, Timely Comics, Atlas Comics and other publishers. During World War II, Al Jaffee worked as an artist in the military. After his service, Mr. Jaffee became editor for Timely Comics humor and teenage comics. In 1957, Mr. Jaffee created the Tall Tales syndicated strip. It ran for six years.
Al Jaffee’s art first appeared in MAD Magazine in 1955. In 1964 Al Jaffee created MAD Magazine’s longest-running feature, the fold-in. Jaffee would create a full page illustration with text that when folded vertically in half would present a new illustration with text that served as a punchline to the original drawing. The fold-in appeared in every issue of the magazine from 1964–2020 except for two. One issue in 1977 lacked a fold-in although Mr. Jaffee provided a back cover illustration. One issue in 1980 had a unique Jaffee presentation: the inside back cover and back cover illustrations when held up to a light source merged to create a third image. Al Jaffee also created MAD’s popular and long-running series “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.”
In 1971 and again in 1975, Mr. Jaffee won the National Cartoonists Society Special Features Award.
In 1973, Al Jaffee won the National Cartoonists Society Advertising and Illustration Award.
In 1979, Mr. Jaffee won the National Cartoonists Humor Comic Book Award.
In 2008, Jaffee was honored by the Reuben Awards as the Cartoonist of the Year.
In October 2011, Al Jaffee won the Comic Art Professional Society’s Sergio Award.
In July 2013, Mr. Jaffee was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.
In April 2014, Al Jaffee was elected to the Society of Illustrators’ Hall of Fame.
On March 30, 2016, Mr. Jaffee was awarded the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a comic artist.
In June 2020, Al Jaffee announced his retirement. MAD Magazine published a tribute issue that same month.
Al Jaffee’s sense of humor and artistic talent translated into decades of smiles for countless children and adults. What better legacy could one hope for?
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Al Jaffee’s family, friends and fans.