Birthday Post: Al Jaffee

Al JaffeeToday, the great cartoonist Al Jaffee is 94 years old. Everyone my age knows him from Mad magazine. And in particular, I remember him for the last page of every issue with the fold-in. It was a cartoon with some question attached to it. And then, if you folded the page in a particular way, a different image would appear that would answer the question. The question would also be changed. It was generally clever rather than funny. But it was very clever. And when I was a kid, I was just amazed at the technique. In later years it was easy enough to see what the folded image was without folding. But when I was very young, it was always amazing to me.

Here is a typical example. It is from 1995 and in reference to which of the Republicans would become nominated only to lose to Bill Clinton the following year. Good prediction!

Al Jaffee - Fold-in 1995

Happy birthday Al Jaffee!

4 thoughts on “Birthday Post: Al Jaffee

  1. Love Jaffee, and every once in a few years I’ll pick up a “Mad.”

    Death notice: Pratchett’s gone after several years with Alzheimer’s. It’s worth skimming some fan reaction to this, he was a really beloved writer by many. “Small Gods,” my favorite, is mentioned as an amazing achievement and one that doesn’t require any familiarity with other DiscWorld books. (“Going Postal” is getting a lot of mention too.) RIP, Pratchett, thanks for making us laugh and doing so with brains.

    • Thank you for the news. I knew he had Alzheimer’s but I didn’t know it was that far along. It’s sad, but probably for the best. When I had first heard, I thought it was a particularly terrible disease for such a brilliant and witty man. But he was only 66. That’s so unjust.

      It’s got me thinking about one of the cosmological theories of Discworld where there are many turtles and they are all going to a spawning ground; this is known as the “big bang” theory. When I first read that, I knew I was in the presence of genius.

      • No reasonably benevolent god would strike anyone with a long-term illness. We could easily have been “designed” so that old people died from severe cases of the the flu (as, of course, some do.) Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s . . . these things are just cruel.

        I mostly try to avoid personal information about artists I enjoy when they’re alive (let the work speak for itself, Vidal always said) but I looked a little today at some videos Pratchett did about dying. He was a staunch advocate for laws allowing terminally ill people to choose their own death; rightly so. He also looked increasingly frail but very lucid, so that’s a bit of luck if it wasn’t sheer performance skill.

        I only started reading him a few years ago and he’s become one of my go-to writers in times of intense depression. Even the bad “Discworld”s (and they run at about a 25% rate, in my view, with 25% great and the rest pretty OK) never fail to cheer me up. Most fantasy/sci-fi either has no connection with human behavior (Tolkein) or takes elements of our world to dystopian extremes (which can be fine, but it doesn’t exactly improve one’s mood; “Game Of Thrones,” the dark “Zone” episodes, etc.)

        When Pratchett is at his best the corruption and stupidity of Discworld is eminently familiar, yet it isn’t hopeless. People (and ghosts, golems, dwarfs, DEATH, etc) are capable of improving things, even if they’d really rather not and only do so with strong objections noted for the record.

        There’s a nice video, “Terry Pratchett On God,” it’s short and I’ll attempt figuring out embedding code for it at the bottom (please fix if I get it wrong.) In the end, Pratchett says “I’d rather be a rising ape than a fallen angel,” which isn’t quite theologically accurate (we aren’t fallen angels in the Bible) and still gets it basically right.

        • I’ll look for the video. Under the old blogging software, it was possible to embed video in comments. It isn’t possible here. (So far as I know.)

          I’ve only read a handful of Pratchett. In general, I don’t think he was very good in terms of structure — books overall didn’t work. But he was very funny. I did think that Making Money was great, however. He had keen insights into our world. I’m sure I’ll read other books in the future. For one thing, I’ve never read Going Postal. And I have long wanted to read The Truth.

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