Thursday, October 21, 2010

its a mad world

i admit it . from the ages of 10-12 i was a huge fan of mad magazine. what kid wasn't? so when i read in time out new york that mary-lou weisman had written a biography about one of the greatest mad magazine cartoonists  al jaffee and that she was going to interview him at the strand bookstore this tuesday, i had to attend.
the evening was a real treat. al jaffee is such a darling person. he reminds you of your grandfather. it is always amazing to meet the person behind the creation or cartoons in this case. besides mad magazine al jaffee truly had a mad life and  during this interview those of us in the audience got a glimpse of it.
al jaffee was born in savannah georgia , but at six years old his mother took him and his three brothers back to lithuania because she missed her life there. of course this was in 1927 when most people were trying to flee eastern europe. he ended up living there for six years, and was finally rescued by his father and returned to the united states. while at the new york city high school for music and art he met harvey kurtzman, one of the creators of mad magazine . even back then harvey kurtzman planned to make a humor magazine with cartoons that would include al jaffee.
humor was the leveling force in jaffee's life. life gave him lemons and he gave back humor and cartoons.
the interview was very charming because it was apparent that writer and interviewee have been friends for a long time and have great respect for one another.
al jaffee illustrated this book with 70 new illustrations. not a lot of 89 year olds can say this.
in addition to mad magazine i also have read al jaffee's book snappy questions to stupid questions. i found it at a thrift shop last year. i could not stop laughing.
of course i bought the book and had it signed. i thank al jaffee for mad magazine, snappy answers to stupid questions, and most of all, for making me laugh.

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