Home » Arts & Entertainment » Al Jaffee of Mad Magazine has the Longest Career as a Comic Artist at the age of 101. He Worked from 1942 to 2020.
Al Jaffee

Al Jaffee of Mad Magazine has the Longest Career as a Comic Artist at the age of 101. He Worked from 1942 to 2020.

Mad Magazine was one of the twentieth century’s most influential satires. It’s difficult to imagine The Simpsons or Saturday Night Live without Mad’s earlier irreverence. But did you know who has the longest career as a comic artist? 

Al Jaffee, a Mad magazine cartoonist, has the longest-ever career as a comic artist, working from 1942 to 2020.

The Early Life of Al Jaffee

Abraham Jaffee was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1921, the son of a Jewish-Lithuanian department manager. His mother struggled to adjust to life in the United States. In 1927, she took her sons on vacation to Lithuania and decided to stay. Jaffee had a very traumatic experience. 

Life in sunny and modern Savannah had been fantastic, but he was abruptly dropped into Zarasi, a cold, poor, and very rural village where no one spoke English. He was the target of antisemitism, bullying, and parental neglect, as his mother frequently locked her children up so she could pray alone.

Unfortunately, she occasionally forgot that her children could not eat or use the restroom during that time. Despite all odds, Jaffee gradually adapted to his new surroundings. One year later, to everyone’s surprise, his father arrived in Zarasai and picked up his sons to return to the United States.

However, the days of paradise did not return. He’d lost his business and had relocated his family to a different town. After a year in the United States, Jaffee was thrown out of his comfort zone when his mother returned and took them back to Zarasai. It wasn’t until 1933, four years later, that Jaffee’s father was finally able to return three of his four sons to their true homeland. The youngest stayed in Zarasai until 1940, when he returned to America just as Hitler invaded Lithuania during World War II. (Source: Lambiek)

Al Jaffee Comic Influences

Jaffee had two diversionary activities during this parental tug of war. He liked picking up trash and turning it into toys. This inventiveness later served him well when he created similar wacky gadgets for Mad.

Comic books were another of his favorite pastimes. Milton Caniff, Rube Goldberg, Otto Soglow, Noel Sickles, Alex Raymond, and Harold Foster were his early graphic influences. Jaffee requested that his father send him the funny papers while he was stuck in Lithuania, claiming that otherwise, he would never speak to him again.

During the Great Depression, he was cartooning provided an outlet as well. Jaffee’s father worked as a part-time postal officer at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal and was so poor that he had to place two of his sons with foster parents. Only Al was permitted to reside with him.

They shared a bed to save money. Jaffee, who was severely depressed due to his situation, found solace in his studies at the local High School of Music and Art. His future colleagues included John Severin, Al Feldstein, Will Elder, and Harvey Kurtzman. 

Jaffee currently resides in Manhattan an was last married to Joyce Revenson who passed away in 2020. (Source: Lambiek

Image from Inspicio

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