As one of the millions of kids (and thousands of comedy writers) who grew up having my sense of humor formed and my world view warped by MAD Magazine, I’m very sad to have to report that writer/cartoonist Al Jaffee has died at 102. As he would probably add, "of undisclosed causes."
While Jaffee did many articles for MAD, as well as creating entire paperback books, he was best known for “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” (something we desperately need now, although the people getting the snappy answers would probably cry that they’d been triggered) and the Fold-In’s on the back covers of MAD, which debuted in 1964.
Jaffee was never on MAD’s staff (he said he worked “from freelance check to freelance check”), but he holds a Guinness World Record for the longest career as a cartoonist, and he had the longest run of any MAD contributor. His work appeared in MAD from 1955 until he retired at 99 in 2020 due to no longer being able to hold a pen. He lasted as long as MAD iteself did.
Jaffee once said the idea for “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” came to him when he was up on the roof fixing his TV antenna, and his son climbed up the ladder to ask him, “Where’s Mom?” He said, “Up on the roof, how the hell would I know where Mom was?” So he replied, “I killed her, and I’m stuffing her down this chimney.”
When asked once for a snappy answer to how he will be remembered, he replied, “Is space available on Mount Rushmore?” If there’s a Mount Rushmore for cartoonists, they should definitely make space for Al Jaffee.
At this link, blogger, comic book writer and historian, and friend of Jaffee, Mark Evanier, has some personal remembrances and examples of Jaffee’s work. RIP.