- Al Jaffee was a cartoonist for ‘MAD.’
- He was the longest-running contributor to the humor publication, with over 6 decades under his belt.
- Al died after an exceptionally long life, and career, on April 10, 2023.
Al Jaffee, the longest running contributor to humor magazine MAD, has died. At the age of 102, the iconic cartoonist passed away on Monday, April 10, 2023 at a hospital in Manhattan, per The Washington Post. The cause was multiple organ failure, according to his granddaughter Fani Thomson.
He didn’t necessarily to plan for the gig to go on as long as it did — ultimately, six and a half decades. “No one knew that Mad was going to go on for 50 or 60 years,” Al told Mother Jones during a 2010 interview, in part. “I figured, ‘All right, I’ll do the best I can with Mad for as long as it lasts.’”
So who was Al, and why was he so respected? Here are five things to know about the MAD contributor who has died after over a century of life.
1. Al Jaffee was a Georgia native.
Al was born in Savannah, Georgia, clear back in March of 2021. He has also lived in Far Rockaway, Queens, and briefly in his parents’ homeland of Zarasai, Lithuania. He was the oldest four sons in the family.
2. He worked as a comic book artist.
Early in his career, which began in earnest in 1942 at the age of 21, Al worked as a comic book artist! His work has been published in Joker Comics, as well as Timely Comics and Atlas Comics — the mid-century precursors to the legendary Marvel Comics. For Timely Comics, he created humor features like “Inferior Man” and “Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal” alongside David Berg — also a future MAD cartoonist.
3. He was a father.
Al was a father of two. In 1945, he married Ruth Ahlquist, and the duo welcomed their son Richard and daughter Debbie together. The marriage lasted beyond two decades — however, by 1967 the marriage had run its course, and they divorced. He later married Joyce Revenson, who died in 2020.
4. Al was an inventor.
But only initially for the purpose of mercilessly spoofing the infamous efforts of the “hucksters” and opportunists of Madison Avenue. But there was something to them, and the brilliant cartoonist would live to see them created and used in daily life. According to the Washinton Post, they included a multi-blade razor — originally “something that I thought was a joke,” Al once said. He also dreamed up the multi roll toilet paper dispenser and the smokeless ashtray — both of which he conceptualized during a time they would have been considered ridiculous — and both of which also became reality.
5. He’s a Hall of Fame Inductee.
Al Jaffee was one of six inductees into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in July of 2013. It all happened, appropriately, during San Diego Comic-Con that year. The honor couldn’t have gone to a more worthy candidate — Al was ultimately the longest running contributor to legendary satirical MAD magazine, having provided cartoon content for a whopping 65 years. His career overall ran from 1942 to 2020.
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