Al Jaffee 90 years old!

The veneranble Mad artist and inventor of the “Fold-In”* turned 90, I just learned. I judsy bought the latest issue of Mad yesterday, and it mentioned it in there – his birthday was March 13, so it’s too late to send any but a belated card.
Why this hasn’t been heralded in the news, I have no idea. He’s still contributing, by the way - the latest issue has a fold-in with a current theme. According to wikipedia, only one issue since 1964 has lacked any input from Jaffee.

*The “fold-in” pretty clearly seems to be a take-off on the Playboy “fold-out”/centerfold/gatefold, but nobody ever seems to mention this. I suspect they don’t realize it. It’s a Mad meta-joke.

Yeah, I never understood the fold-in joke until many years after I stopped reading MAD.

He did the Snappy Answers To Stupid Questions stuff too, didn’t he? Trained many a budding smart-ass, myself included.

I saw he just turned 90 on his Wikipedia article I looked up for unrelated reasons last week.

If you read the stuff he says, he’s obviously still sharp as a tack and healthy as a horse. He still does conventions, for chrissakes, and he’s 90 years old!

I imagine he doesn’t still write for MAD for the money. He’s lasted through all the resignations, firings, infighting, and Bill Gaines, who I understand was a boss from hell. No, he truly still enjoys what he does.

Moved MPSIMS --> Cafe Society

What was the Mad inspired fold-in Marge Simpson’s fellow prisoner had tattooed on her back?

The fold in was “What kind of slime would I marry?” > “What me worry?”

What was that all about, anyway?

  1. “It’s about stupid abswers to snappy questions, like yours :rolleyes:”

  2. 'It’s about the spatial relation ship between your ears, in other words an enormous gulf!"

  3. “It’s about one page of filler.”

  4. 'It is what it is, duh."

Well, actually, the very first fold-in made note of that fact, saying, basically, “Other magazines have fold-outs, but we did a fold-in.” They mentioned this on each of the first few, but dropped it as people got the idea.

He’s done many great articles and art for Mad. Happy birthday!

This is a good time to mention his biography, which is an amazing story.

He was born to Lithuanian Jewish parents in Savannah, Georgia, but was basically kidnapped twice by his mother (along with his siblings) and forced to live in a Lithuainian shetl a la “Fiddler On The Roof” until he was finally able to return to America for good. I highly recommend the book.

I didn’t say it was unknown, or a hidden secret, but that most people seem to be unaware of it. They may have mentioned it at first, but that stopped after the first appearance or so. It’s mentioned in the Wikipedia article I link to, but it was clear to me after I got older (and familiar with Playboy’s feature).

For the first couple of years, Jaffee experimented with the fold-in. It was black and white for the first couple of years (which gave him more freedom in making his images, but has been in color since before 1970. Some of the early fold-ins weren’t vertical. He did one with the Beatles that was diagonal. More recently, undoubtedly aware that people are trying to guess the fold-in topic, he has provided “false” fold-in subjects that aren’t the real result, when you actually fold the edges in.

I always did like his “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions”. And his Stupid Inventions, some of which were actually developed (independent of him). There seems to be overlap with the Japanese Chindogu (again, which seem to be independent inventions), with some of the published Chindogu looking exactly like Jaffee’s inventions.

and the blank area for the padawan wiseass to make his or her own:

you called?


Don’t MAD writers seem to live as long as hell? Jack Davis? Mort Drucker? How 'bout the others?

Paul Coker’s still around, and Sergio Aragones. And several writers (as I’ve said before, nobody seems to remember them) Dick de Bartolo has been at it almost as long as Jaffee – an unbroken string of issues going back to 1966. Frank Jacobs has been contributing since 1957.

But sadly, a lt of the Old Guard is gone – George Woodbridge, Don Martin, Dave Berg, Antonio Prohias, Harvey Kurtzman, and William Gaines himself.

Ahh, fond memories! I still have a copy of The Bedside Mad from the early 1950s, though I’m not the original owner. For anyone interested in the history of Mad it’s a must read, because it’s from just that point in time when they had cut down on the “horror” elements and moved to straight satire. The send-ups of High Noon and The Caine Mutiny must have been just about the first of the movie satires.

I always thought the the name “fold-in” was inspired by “sit-in” and other protest or cultural events that used similar nomenclature, like the 1967 Human Be-In in San Francisco. Given that the sit-ins for racial equality were recent news in 1964, it sounds plausible.

Laugh-In :wink: You may be right as there were a buttload of " -In" type things then

thanks for highlighting the birthday and biography. I’ll have to get this book

Mazeltov, Al. You cracked me up many times.

My all time favorite Jaffe piece is at the end of one of the Snappy Answers books. The scene is of a guard and a prisoner in the electric chair. I don’t even remember what the question was, but the final answer was absolutely perfect… *“It’s about time you scofflaws got what you deserved…ZZZZZAAAAAPPPP!!” *

It was the end of a long series of Snappy Comebacks to Stupid Questions in a story of a murder. In the penultimate panel the guard (with his hand on the switch) asks

“Are you here because you murdered someone?”

(which, of course, she has). She responds:
“No, I’m here because of unpaid parking tickets”
Which makes the guards line, as he throws the switch on the electric chair, so good.