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Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biographyby Mary Lou Weisman
Synopses & Reviews
Jaffees inventive work has enlivened the pages of MAD since 1955. To date he has pickled three generations of American kids in the brine of satire, and continues to bring millions of childhoods to untimely ends with the knowledge that parents are hypocrites, teachers are dummies, politicians are liars, and life isnt fair.
Jaffees work for MAD has made him a cultural icon, but the compelling and at times bizarre story of his life has yet to be told. A synopsis of Jaffees formative years alone reads like a comic strip of traumatic cliff-hangers with cartoons by Jaffee and captions by Freud. Six-year-old Jaffee was separated from his father, uprooted from his home in Savannah, Georgia, and transplanted by his mother to a shtetl in Lithuania, a nineteenth-century world of kerosene lamps, outhouses, physical abuse, and near starvation. He would be rescued by his father, returned to America, taken yet again by his mother back to the shtetl, and once again rescued by his father, even as Hitler was on the march.
When he finally settled back in America as a twelve-year-old wearing cobbled shoes and speaking his native English with a Yiddish accent, schoolmates called him greenhorn. He struggled with challenges at least as great as those he had met in Europe. His luck changed, however, when he was chosen to be a member of the first class to attend New York Citys High School of Music and Art. There his artistic ability saved him.
He would go on to forge relationships with Stan Lee, Harvey Kurtzman, and Will Elder, launching a career that would bring him to MAD magazine. There he found himself at the forefront of a movement that would change the face of humor and cartooning in America.
A cliff-hanger of a life deserves a page-turner of a biography, and that is what Mary-Lou Weisman and Al Jaffee have delivered.
“One of the great cartoonists of our time.” -New Yorker cartoonist Arnold Roth
The remarkable story of one of Americas most prolific and beloved cartoonists, Al Jaffee, with dozens of original color illustrations. Jaffes career in cartooning stretches back to 1941—with early humor pieces for Timely Comics, a precursor to Marvel Comics—but the iconic artist remains best known for the brilliant Fold-In cartoons he invented at Bill Gainess Mad magazine in 1964. The cerebral and sardonic illustrations have inspired generations of Mad readers—including Stephen Colbert, R. Crumb, Gary Larson and Charles Shultz—to embrace a firm and healthy irreverence towards the status quo. New York Times columnist and bestselling author Mary-Lou Weisman (My Middle-Aged Baby Book) helps Jaffe tell his remarkable story.
Since 1955, when his work began enlivening the pages of MAD magazine, Al Jaffee has pickled three generations of American kids in the brine of satire—and he continues to bring millions of childhoods to untimely ends with the knowledge that parents are hypocrites, teachers are dummies, politicians are liars, and life isnt fair. Jaffee has a life story that is truly bizarre, that reads like a comic strip of traumatic cliff-hangers with cartoons by Jaffee and captions by Freud—from his traumatic childhood as a reverse immigrant to finding his adult place at the forefront of a movement that would forever change the face of humor and cartooning in America.
A cliff-hanger of a life deserves a page-turner of a biography, and thats precisely what Mary-Lou Weisman and Al Jaffee have delivered.
About the Author
Mary-Lou Weisman is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. Her published books include My Baby Boomer Baby Book; Traveling While Married; My Middle-Aged Baby Book: A Record of Milestones, Millstones & Gallstones; and Intensive Care: A Family Love Story. All of her books remain in print. Her essays, feature articles, interviews, and film and book reviews have appeared in many publications, among them The New Republic, Newsweek, Glamour, Vogue, Atlantic Monthly, and the New York Times. She has also contributed essays and commentary to Public Radio International. She lives in Westport, Connecticut, with her husband, a lawyer. Mary-Lou Weisman and Al Jaffee have been friends for more than thirty years.
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Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Cartoons » Comics