The crazy magazine cartoonist created the popular fold-in

Mad Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee, who helped create one of the satirical publication’s signature features, the “Fold-In” back cover, has died.

He turned 102 on March 13.

His granddaughter Fani Thomson confirmed this to the New York Times on Monday.

He died of multisystem organ failure in a New York hospital.

The magazine’s website posted a tribute to the “incomparable” Jaffee, with current and former collaborators calling him “a humble and kind creator,” “a thoroughly creative soul,” “a rascal at heart,” “a national treasure,” and more honored .

“Al was a rascal at heart,” said John Ficarra, a former Mad editor who worked with Jaffee for more than 35 years, according to the tribute. “He always had a playful twinkle in his eye and brought that sensitivity to everything he created.”

“Al Jaffee was an incredibly gifted man who touched our hearts and never failed to make us laugh,” said Jim Lee, DC’s chief creative officer and publisher, in a statement on the website. “He has received the highest accolades and accolades in the world of illustration and comics.”

Tim Heintjes, editor of Hogan’s Alley, an online magazine about cartoon art, also announced the news on twitter.

“I am very sad to announce that the great Al Jaffee has passed away,” Heintjes wrote. “He had just celebrated his 102nd birthday last month. An incredible legend. RIP to a cartoon giant.”

Legendary "Crazy" Cartoonist Al Jaffee died at the age of 102.
Legendary “Mad” cartoonist Al Jaffee has died at the age of 102.

Jaffee created the Mad Fold-In in 1964, and it lasted until his retirement in 2020, according to the Times.

The feature on the back cover of the magazine seemed like any other page, but when you folded it in thirds, the illustrations and text became something completely different.

Many of them would also have surprise jokes.

Jaffee was born in Savannah, Georgia to two Jewish immigrants from Lithuania.

When he was 6, his mother took him and his three younger brothers back to their shtetl in Lithuania, which was supposed to last only a few months but lasted six years, according to the Times.

It was there, however, that his love of drawing cartoons began, as his father sent him and his siblings packages of Sunday cartoons from America, according to the outlet.

He later returned to America at age 12 and attended the High School of Music and Art in New York, where he was part of the school’s first grade.

He began his career in cartoons in the 1940s and illustrated for publications such as Joke Comics and Atlas Comics.

He began working with Mad Magazine in 1955, with only a brief hiatus when he worked for Humbug Humor Magazine, according to Deadline.

Jaffee was the creator of the popular Mad Fold-In feature.
Jaffee was the creator of the popular Mad Fold-In feature.

In 1958 he returned to Mad and worked there until his retirement.

“In the late 1950s I went to Crazy with some scripts, and the new editor, Al Feldstein, bought them all,” Jaffee Vulture said of his hiring in a 2008 interview.

“Al was a very hands-on editor. NO CRAZY piece was ever purchased without his consent.”

Among his most memorable fold-ins were a tribute to John Lennon’s death and one about the Whitewater scandal during the Clinton administration.

Jaffee explained that he noticed that many other major magazines such as Playboy and Life magazine offered very large centerfolds – which inspired his unique idea.

“So, of course, how do you go the other way? you have a shut-In, rather than a fold-out of‘ he said to Vulture.

“I made a mockup and wrote on it something like, ‘All good magazines fold out, but this lousy magazine does fold in.'” I went to Al Feldstein and showed it to him, but I didn’t believe it that the idea had a damn chance of being used.

But it got used to it and continued into a legacy of which more than 500 have been made over the years.

He has been featured in many Mad books, including 1976’s Mad’s Vastly Overrated Al Jaffee.

In September 2011, Chronicle Books released a four-volume hardcover box set of his collection entitled The Mad Fold-In Collection: 1964–2010.

Jaffee was also the illustrator of Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, another clever, long-running Mad feature.

His latest fold-in was featured in the magazine’s August 2020 Jaffee Tribute issue — an illustration of Mad Magazine’s mascot Alfred E. Newman surrounded by a row of buildings with Out-of-Business signs. When you folded it, the signs read, “No more new Jaffee fold-ins,” with an ethereal illustration of Jaffee above them, as shown on CBR.

He was a fixture at Mad Magazine.
He was a fixture at Mad Magazine.
Moments Editorial/Getty Images

According to Deadline, it was an illustration to be published after his death.

In 1977, Jaffee married his second wife, Joyce Revenson, who died in January 2020, according to the Times.

The artist is survived by two children, Richard Jaffee and Deborah Fishman, from his first marriage to Ruth Ahlquist; two stepdaughters, Tracey and Jody Revenson; five grandchildren; a step-granddaughter and three great-grandchildren, according to the Times.

When asked about the future of animation in his interview with Vulture last year, he said the industry could see some big changes – but one thing has always stayed the same.

He worked at the magazine for 55 years.
He worked at the magazine for 55 years.
Getty Images

“I think there’s going to be some drastic changes as far as commercial artists are concerned. Even as you spoke, I was imagining getting up in the morning and a favorite comic is on a chalkboard and is rolling past me and animated. It will no longer be “Peanuts” with four squares and static small pieces. Now there will be characters running right in front of you or kicking a soccer ball – all on a sheet no larger than one page,” he explained.

“All of that is definitely to come. To be honest, I don’t know what we’re going to win or what we’re going to lose. Of course, you both win and lose with the advance of knowledge and technology,” he continued.

“But humor, I don’t think any race of people can survive without it.”

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Emma Bowman by emailing

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