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Obituary

Al Jaffee, influential ‘Mad Magazine’ cartoonist, 102

His 70 years at the satire publication is part of the longest career of a cartoonist, per the Guinness World Records.

Cartoonist Al Jaffee 2016 New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. Credit: Luigi Novi via Wikimedia Commons.
Cartoonist Al Jaffee 2016 New York Comic Con at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. Credit: Luigi Novi via Wikimedia Commons.

Al Jaffee, born Abraham Jaffee in 1921 in Savannah, Ga., died in New York City on April 10.

The son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, Jaffee later legally changed his name to Allan. He went by Al, reportedly, amid rising antisemitism during World War II.

In 1955, Jaffee began freelancing for Mad Magazine—then just three years old—and he continued to contribute until he retired at age 99 in 2020. He had the longest career of a cartoonist, according to the Guinness World Records.

Jaffee is most associated with the “fold-in,” which he created and debuted in 1964. It was originally to be a one-off, but the feature, which mocked the foldout in Playboy, became a staple. Readers would see one image unfolded, and when they folded the page back, they would discover another, hidden image that riffed on the unfolded one.

He also created Mad’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” feature and worked with such Jewish comics legends as Stan Lee (born Stanley Martin Lieber) and Will Eisner. He also illustrated “The Shpy,” a Jewish-themed adventure in a Chabad children’s publication, starting in 1984.

In 2007, Jaffee won the National Cartoonists Association’s highest honor.

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