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Al Jaffee's Mad Life Paperback – September 28, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: ItBooks; 1St Edition edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006186448X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061864483
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,093,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Al Jaffee’s Mad Life lays bare in harrowing yet often riotous detail how a Southern boy, twice uprooted by his mother to Lithuanian shtetls on the eve of World War II, grew up to become a tireless satirist for some of America’s cheekier magazines.” (New York Times)

“I’ve been privileged to know many brilliant cartoonists, but the incredibly creative, supremely talented Al Jaffee is right up there at the top of the list.” (Stan Lee)

“When I am among other cartoonists talking about the giants in our field, one of the first names that comes to the conversation is Al Jaffee and we all agree, He is a cartoonists cartoonist!” (Sergio Aragones)

From the Back Cover

Jaffee’s 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 isn’t fair.

Jaffee’s 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 Jaffee’s 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, andonce 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 amember of the first class to attend New York City’s 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.


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Customer Reviews

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'Im a jaffee and mad magazine fan.
david denton
Great book about a man who went through many trials in life, but still manages to provide us with laughter and humor - even continuing to do so today.
Michael
This is a wonderful book, and it contains dozens of original Jaffee drawings.
goldenrulecomics

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By tim metcalfe on January 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
As a lifelong Mad magazine consumer and collector, and reader of biographies and autobiographies of Mad artists and writers, this ranks near the top. If you're after more inside stories of the creation of Mad, and what life was like in the Mad offices, this provides some of that. But mostly, and most interestingly, it is the epic saga of the little boy who became Al Jaffee, one of Mad's maddest artists. Shuttled back and forth from Savannah, Georgia, to a shtetl in Lithuania, to New York City and back again to the shtetl due to his separated parents fighting for custody, the boy and his oddball brothers became artists and inventors to amuse themselves when they had nothing else. When he landed back in the Bronx as a teenager, Al fortuitously met a fellow artist and cutup in junior high named Wolf Eisenberg, who later became one of the founders of Mad, Will Elder. The following year Will and Al got into the famed LaGuardia High School of Music and Arts. There they befriended the first editor and auteur of Mad, Harvey Kurtzman. And the rest is history.

This book is a gem, due to the copious, beautiful illustrations by Jaffee (still going cantankerously strong at 89) and moreso by the absorbing saga of Jaffee's long, fascinating and tragicomic life. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DF on November 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would have never imagined that one of my favorite artist from Mad Magazine would have such an interesting story. It is unbelievable that with all the tragedy surrounding his life Mr. Jaffee would be responsible for some of the funniest stuff ever drawn on a page. The book was well written and included new drawings as well as some of his classic work. I completely enjoyed this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By justonemorething on October 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is just wonderful. I always knew Al Jaffee as a great artist, but you really learn about what a remarkable life he's had, and what a remarkable man he is. The illustrations throughout the book makes it feel personal. The juxtaposition between sorrow and humor is a fascinating theme that is well told. This is like a present for Mad lovers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Sackmary on March 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Did you grow up in the media generation like I did? Hours and hours of tv and video games? If you did, and if you really want to get a view of what life was like for our grandparent's generation, then read this book. It's an eye-opener.

The write (Al Jaffee) is world-famous for his fold-ins in the back of MAD Magazine. Jaffee also wrote the famous "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" cartoons. If you enjoyed reading MAD when you were a kid, you'll love this book. Jaffee lets us in on his life story. It's a story that is inspiring, sometimes sad, but eventually triumphant.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary-Lou Weisman has captured a wonderful, emotional portrayal of the child who became the man from MAD. The passion in Al Jaffee's life breathes through these pages. It is a beautiful account of what it takes to be human -- the happiness and sadness that one must bear with strength and grace to fulfill a worthy life.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very interesting. As others have noted, this isn't the book you should read if you want to know what working at Mad was like - that's in there to a degree, but is not the focus. The focus is his life and, really, few would have gone through such a life and come out intact, I don't think. It's an amazing story and doesn't drag. It opened my eyes in Watson I did not expect.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fun, occasionally harrowing story from a cartooning legend. Some of this is unbelievable; it would make a great movie.
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By Rich M. on February 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was definitely a different type of comic book creator biography than most are probably used to reading. It is well over half-way into the book before Al Jaffee's comic book career is really mentioned.

It is a fascinating look at a very creative cartoonist who grew up in some very daunting circumstances, having been forced to go back to his mother's relatively primitive homeland of Lithuania twice during his formative years. There is a lot of reminiscing about that time period, but it is not boring or trite; if's simply fascinating. The book proceeds on to his work with various comic book companies, including Stan Lee at Timely/Atlas (what would become Marvel), some short runs working for Harvey Kurtzman and, of course, his legendary run with Bill Gaines at Mad Magazine.

This is a great read whether you're a comic book fan or not.
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