Al Jaffee – The Longest Working Cartoonist in History

Pic: Comics Alliance

Allan Al Jaffee (Abraham Jaffee) is an American Cartoonist. He is notable for his work in Satirical Magazine, MAD, including his trademark feature – the Mad-Fold-in. Al Jaffee remains a regular in the magazine after sixty years and is its longest-running contributor. Al Jaffee was honored as the cartoonist of the year by Reuben Awards. He is described as one of the great cartoonists of our time. It is said about Al Jaffee that, he can cartoon anything and there is also one famous quote from him being a cartoonist, “Serious people my age are dead”.

Have a glimpse into the life.

Early life and Education

Al Jaffee was born in Savannah, Georgia. His parents were both immigrants. His father had a management job at a department store. He studied at the High School of Music and art in New York City.


His life wasn’t all fun and games. His Mother spirited off six-year-old Al and his three kid brothers to Zarasai, Lithuania, leaving them to fend for themselves in a world of poverty, religious orthodoxy, and anti-Semitism.

Self made base

When left by the mother, he became totally independent. He would get up every morning and just heading out, find out fresh vegetables and fruits to eat. He had done all the things a parents do for their children and this is how he survived the hardships.

Bringing up cartoons

Al Jaffee had a hugely more difficult more time. He fell in with every new bunch of children and the first thing he would start doing was drawing the well-known cartoons of that day, like “Maggie and Jiggs” and he was accepted later.

First career

Al Jaffee began his working career and started working as a comic book artist for several publications, including Timely and Atlas Comics and later shifted to Marvel Comics. Jaffee created several humor features for Timely, including “Inferior Man”.

The role of fate

During World War two, Jaffee made some very good friends in the army where they call him Al for some reason and there one of the soldier has admired his artwork and he wound up as an art instructor at a rehabilitation center in Coral Gables, Florida.

Jaffee’s MAD

MAD came out at a time when things were looking politically pretty dim, with the McCarthy movement. Al Jaffee first appeared in MAD, shortly after its transformation from comic book format to magazine and later its first full reprint was published as a two volume set by Fantagraphics. The set includes a newly commissioned cover illustration by Jaffee, and a interview with Jaffee.


Jaffee created his longest-running Mad feature, the Fold-In. In each, a drawing is folded vertically and inward to reveal a new “hidden” picture, Originally, Jaffee intended it as a one-shot “cheap” satire of the triple fold-outs that were appearing in glossy magazines such as  Playboy and Life. But Jaffee was asked to do a second installment, and soon the Fold-In became a recurring feature on the inside back cover of the magazine.

Bottom line

People tend to become what they were trained to be but he trained himself to be his own. He led a constant battle to figure out of what he could become and the insecurity that endangered his life, especially as a freelance cartoonist.


This is the core of Jaffee’s work: the idea that to be alive is to be constantly beleaguered by annoying idiots, poorly designed products and the unapologetic ferocity of fate. Competence and intelligence are not rewarded in life but punished.

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