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Farewell to a Legend: Celebrating the Life and Art of Al Jaffee at 102
One of the most innovative, prolific cartoonists that ever lived, died today. At 102.
April 10, 2023
UWS— New York, NY
I’m sad to report the passing of the great Al Jaffee.
Al was the creator of the MAD Fold-in and countless other legendary cartooning creations. He was a widely respected and much-loved member of the NCS community. His inventiveness and creativity were an inspiration to generations of cartoonists and readers alike. His warm smile and devious wit will be deeply missed.
He holds the Guinness World Record for “Longest Career as a Comic Artist.”
For his 100th birthday, all the cartoonists sent him birthday cards via longtime MAD Art Director, Sam Viviano. (This was my shoddy effort:)
“Al Jaffee day”
I was honoured to be invited to celebrate Al’s birthday and induction into the Guinness World Records at Sardi’s some years ago.
At the time, Al was the longest-serving member of MAD's Usual Gang of Idiots.
He is, of course, known best as the creator of the world-famous MAD fold-in and the writer of more snappy answers to stupid questions than you could dream of.
The big party at Sardi's restaurant off Broadway was the scene of the crime:
All the great cartoonists and friends and the Usual gang of idiots came to celebrate. The Guinness Book of World Records (in attendance) made a special presentation announcing Jaffee as having the longest career as a comics artist in the history of Earth. Ever.
Then, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio officially had this whole speech about Jaffee's contribution to the world, and moreover New York City... He then declared March 30th, "AL JAFFEE DAY".
Then the great Sergio Aragones made a video singing Al a happy birthday.
His old friend and co-worker Stan Lee sent in a video congratulating Al on his life and career and recalled some of the properties they worked on back in the day.
I figured it might be appropriate to draw Al his very own hand-made fold-in birthday card! Turns out it's way harder than it looks... And it looks insanely hard. I sheepishly gave it to him and he very generously didn’t call me a clod.
There is so much more I could tell you about Al, but I know people like Tom Richmond and Charlie Kochman will do a much better job than I could, so I’ll leave you with a video I shot in 2018: Al with his ol’ pal, Arnold Roth, introducing the Jay Kennedy Memorial Scholarship in 2018.
He will be deeply missed.
(With thanks to Tom Gammill, who organized the script and meeting for this video)