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Al Jaffee's Mad Life: A Biography Hardcover – September 30, 2010
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“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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
I still remember the names of many of the contributors. Don Martin, Sergio Aragones, Frank Jacobs, Dick DeBartello, and who could forget Dave Berg's "The Lighter Side Of..."? My favorite, though was Al Jaffee. Nobody could make me break down into hysterics better then Jaffee. If you were a casual reader, Jaffee was the one the contribute the back cover "fold-ins" as well as the immortal "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions". Never knowing that much about the comings and goings of the magazine, I was eager to read this biography that came out only a couple of years ago.
Although this was a very well written and interesting look at the man's life, it sadly fell short of my expectations. What I was really wanting, was the majority of this book to be about the goings on at MAD Magazine. This book actually covers very little of that frame of Jaffee's life. It's about 90% "pre-MAD" and 10% MAD. Of the "Pre-MAD" portion, most of that deals with Jaffee's childhood. It's a very interesting (and a bit sad) childhood. Growing up in a Jewish family in rural Georgia in a fairly well-to-to home, Jaffee's eccentric mother, for whatever reason, takes Al and his little brothers away from their father rather abruptly to move to the "old country" of Lithuania.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
With such a subject - Al Jaffee was the principal cartoonist for MAD magazine - this should have been a much better book. Read morePublished 13 months ago by J. Singer
A MAD fan of any degree will recognize Al Jaffee's seemingly-simply style at a glance. This volume is a reader's dream, even if you are NOT a MAD fiend. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Jeff Rader
Even if you're not a fan of MAD Al's story is amazing. To live though what he did and come out the other side is a testament to determination and self-preservation. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jim
A fascinating biography of one of the greatest Mad cartoonists.Published 18 months ago by M. Kupperman
Amazingly wonderfully written and and a credit to a Al Jaffee who showed his comic & sunny side-of-life personality through the thick and thin joys and difficulties of his life. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Joan C Marsh
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. Read morePublished on June 9, 2014 by Gary Littlewood
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. Read morePublished on April 6, 2014 by stark
This is a fun, occasionally harrowing story from a cartooning legend. Some of this is unbelievable; it would make a great movie.Published on March 30, 2014 by Rick Spence
Having grown up with MAD magazine, it was well worth a look at one of it's most important contributors. Recommended!Published on November 27, 2013 by Mark Letalien