Al Jaffee, a pioneering cartoonist and inventor of Mad magazine “fold-in”, passed away at the age of 102. He worked for Mad for seven decades and known for creating some of the publication’s most famous regulars, including Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions. Jaffee was also the Guinness record-holder for the longest career in cartooning. His granddaughter reported that he died in a Manhattan hospital on Monday from multi-system organ failure.
Jaffee began working in comics soon after graduating high school and sold a parody of Superman to Will Eisner at the age of 20. He began working for Stan Lee a year later and adopted the name “Al” during World War II to protect himself from anti-Semitism. Jaffee joined Mad in 1955 and invented the iconic “fold-in”, which designed to mock the centrefolds in magazines such as Playboy.
In 2016, Jaffee spoke to the Guardian and expressed his belief that satire was becoming harder in the face of politicians who felt no shame about lying. He was also well known for the anti-war cartoons Hawks & Doves, which he drew during the Vietnam War. Jaffee’s fans included Peanuts creator Charles M Schulz, Far Side creator Gary Larson, and satirical comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
Jaffee retired in 2020 at the age of 99 and the Mad magazine longest-tenured contributor. He was a freelancer for his entire career and never became a staff member. Jaffee is survive by his children, grandchildren, stepchildren, and great-grandchildren. He hoped that he succeeded in making a living and entertaining people throughout his life.