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Al Jaffee, famed Mad Magazine cartoonist, has died at 102

The Mad Magazine cartoonist passed this weekend

Al Jaffee Self-Portrait
Image credit: DC

Cartoonist Al Jaffee, who regularly contributed to iconic humor anthology Mad Magazine for 65 years, has died, his family has confirmed. He was 102.

Jaffee died as the result of multiple organ failure, according to his granddaughter Fani Thompson. He is survived by his children, Richard, Debora, Tracey, and Jody, as well as six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Born Abraham Jaffee — he changed his professional name during the Second World War, in an attempt to avoid potential anti-semitism — Al’s career started in 1942 with Joker Comics, a humor title published by Timely Comics, the company that would one day become Marvel. It was at that company where he created Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal, characters that are still published on an irregular basis, by the company. (Most recently, they’ve been an extended part of the Deadpool canon.)

Jaffee's later work included the syndicated strip Tall Tales, which ran from 1957 through 1963, as well as stories in Trump and Humbug, comedy titles edited by Harvey Kurtzman. He is, however, best known for his work in Mad, which he joined in 1955 shortly after the title transitioned from comic book to magazine format.

It was at Mad where Jaffee created a number of famous recurring features, including Mad Inventions, Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions (reportedly inspired by Jaffee’s own sarcastic answers to his own family’s questions) and, of course, the Fold-In: an illustration on the inside back-cover of the magazine that, when folded, would reveal a secondary illustration that traditionally offered satirical commentary on its topic. (It sounds far more dry when explained, like all the best jokes. It was originally intended as a parody of the fold out Playboy centerfolds, as unlikely as that might seem.)

Jaffee worked at Mad until 2020 (when he was 99), staying on as a freelancer for the entire time as he continued to create Fold-Ins and occasional other work for the magazine. Upon his retirement, he told the New York Times that he had two jobs for the entire length of his career: “One of them was to make a living. The second one was to entertain. I hope to some extent that I succeeded.”