Al Jaffee

The NY Times Arts & Leisure section has a wonderful profile of Al Jaffee, the cartoonist behind MAD Magazine’s long-running “fold-in” gag and “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” series.

Among the many great MAD cartoonists, the most influential for me as a young, budding toonster were Sergio Aragones, Mort Drucker, George Woodbridge, and Jaffee. Drucker had spot-on caricatures, and Woodbridge had such a biting style. But Jaffee and Aragones drew what I considered proper “cartoons” by proper “cartoonists”: they wrote and drew their own stuff in a less realistic, more funny style. And they hit on a wide variety of subjects, from current events, politics, fashion and pop culture, to more sinister aspects of modern American society. I love this fold-out as described in the NY Times profile:

July 1968: “What is the one thing most school dropouts are sure to become?” A picture of teenagers at an employment center folds into a piece of artillery with a kid stuffed in it, and the answer: “Cannon fodder.”

Jesus, that’s brilliant. Bitter, angry, caustic – yet funny. It’s something I aspire to with every In Contempt strip I draw. Glad to see Jaffee continues to put out his stuff, despite cancer and advanced age, with a technique I am still too timid to take up: water color and gouache.  Photoshop has made things too damn easy.


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