NEW YORK – Al Jaffee, an award-winning cartoonist for Mad magazine who created the satire publication’s iconic “Fold-In” and created heavy sarcasm with his “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions,” died Monday. He was 102.
Jaffee died in a Manhattan hospital and the cause of death was multiple organ failure, his granddaughter, Fani Thomson, told The New York Times.
Jaffee, the longest-serving contributor to the counterculture magazine, continued to draw until he retired at age 99, according to The Associated Press.
He invented the Mad “Fold-In” feature in April 1964, according to Variety. The page, situated on the page before the magazine’s back cover, appeared to deliver a “normal” message.
However, when the page was folded vertically into thirds, the illustration and text sent an entirely different meaning, usually a snarky message that defied authority, the Times reported.
“Here we go with another ridiculous Mad Fold-In,” the page would announce.
In his fold-ins, Jaffee lampooned presidents, politicians, the Beatles, Elizabeth Taylor and countless other subjects in pop culture, Variety reported.
A collection of Jaffee’s fold-ins was published as a four-box set in 2011, according to The Associated Press.
“It was supposed to be really a one-shot,” Jaffee said in a 1993 interview with The Kansas City Star. “But because of the overwhelming demand of three or four of my relatives, it went on to a second time, and on and on.”
His comedic streak earned him the Reuben Award, cartooning’s top honor, the Times reported.
Jaffee’s illustrated inventions included a smokeless ashtray and multi-roll toilet paper dispensers, according to The Washington Post. He once said that he was delighted when “something that I thought was a joke turned into reality,” citing his lampooning of multi-blade razors.
“Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” first appeared in the magazine in October 1965, according to the Times.
In the 2013 book “Inside Mad,” fellow Mad magazine writer Desmond Devlin called Jaffee “the irreplaceable embodiment of Mad Magazine’s range,” Variety reported.
Born Abraham Jaffee in Savannah, Georgia, on March 13, 1921, Jaffee grew up in Europe and in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, New York, the entertainment news website reported.
Jaffee attended the High School of Music & Art in New York and worked for Marvel cartoonist Stan Lee and the Pentagon before joining Mad, Variety reported.
Illustrator Arnold Roth called Jaffee “one of the great cartoonists of our time,” according to the Post.
Jaffee said he would often receive requests from high schools that wanted to create a fold-in for the campus newspaper, believing that they needed to ask for his permission, the Times reported.
“I write back and say, ‘You have my blessings, go ahead and do it,’” Jaffee said in 2008. “But no one can copyright folding a piece of paper.”
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