RIP Al Jaffee – Renegade Artist

What I knew about Cracked and Mad Magazines is that I was too young for them. Our playmates had an older brother who had stacks of them, and I’d sneak to a corner to read them. I learned about Spy vs. Spy and read the cartoon features about subjects like the Insurance Industry – “When you win, you lose, and when you lose, you win!” – is a snappy line that’s stayed with me.

But the thing that got me were the back covers, which had to be folded over the center material to get the real message. The teen these treasures belonged to didn’t seem interested in learning the puzzle. His covers were uncreased.

My job was getting the straightest fold between the arrows and it took me a few tries to line it up, leaving annoying accordian pleats to get in the way. I’d skim the full-size design, trying to guess what the joined text and art were going to reveal before tackling the fold. Online loses that tactical anticipation, and a bound collection would soon look mangled. The ephemeral magazine was the perfect delivery vehicle.

As a Bullwinkle-beats-anything-Disney-makes* devotee, I loved humor aimed slightly above my head. Al Jaffee’s work illustrated the blatant, normalized sexism I grew up internalizing, lol NBD amirite?

The art was so intelligent, so pure and well-packaged, it sailed right into the ol’ toolbox ‘tween these ears; as ready to be regurgitated as everyone’s always-quoteable, bathroom copy of “Playboy’s Party Jokes.” Oh, to be a child of the 70’s again!

Whoo Boy. “The more things change…?” Nailed it. (h/t)

Featured Image is sourced at The Marginalian

I’d like to have been a fly on the wall at my imagined meeting of Jaffee and Hunter S. Thompson. Surely happened.

RIP, Mr Jaffee. You came, you saw and you drew it. Here’s to your dazzling, well-executed life; exemplary satirist; hero to many.

  • My only Disney exception was “The Jungle Book” and meeting my hero Floyd Norman remains on my bucket list.
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