Photo: Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times/Redux
Al Jaffee, the legendary cartoonist best known for being the longest-running contributor to the American humor magazine MAD, has died. He was 102. Jaffee died in the hospital from multi-system organ failure, according to his granddaughter Fani Thompson, who confirmed the news to the New York Times and Washington Post.
With a career that stretched from 1942 to 2020, Jaffee, who was born in Savannah, Georgia, and grew up in Lithuania before coming to New York, held the world record for “longest career as a comic artist,” a title awarded to him by Guinness World Records in 2016. During that time, he was instrumental in shaping the voice and sensibility of MAD, contributing to the magazine starting in 1955, just a few years after its launch. His biggest contribution to the magazine was the celebrated “Fold-in,” which first appeared in MAD in 1964 and remained a fixture until the magazine effectively folded in 2019. Mike Sacks, who interviewed Jaffee for his 2009 book And Here’s the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers, and published an extended version of this interview in Vulture in March, described the Fold-ins as “deceptively simple and seemingly innocuous” and “a cache of subversive satire.”
Tributes to Jaffee have been pouring in on social media since the news was confirmed.
Jaffee is survived by two children, Richard Jaffee and Deborah Fishman; two stepdaughters; five grandchildren; one step-granddaughter; and three great-grandchildren.