Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: A Biography

I imagine that the process of preparing for this book involved Weisman sitting down at Jaffee’s kitchen table with a tape recorder for several hours. It’s not particularly well-written, a slapdash kind of story heavily reliant on long, windbag-esque quotes from Jaffee that border on pointless at times. Goes deep into his bizarre childhood of growing up in Savannah, GA, before being emigrated to Lithuania by his homesick mother, then his father rescues them back to the Rockaways in NYC, then the mother steals them away to Lithuania again. Eventually Al’s back in NYC and studying art, but his mother is killed in her homeland. The story finally gains steam around the time when brother Harry starts mass-producing drawings of airplanes; the whole crew pitches in with tracing, coloring, then final drawing. Jaffee got his start with Stan Lee drawing Squat Cop Squad, breaking the wall by having the cartoonist spill onto the page and berate his creation. Lee came to the rescue again in the post-WW2 era letting Jaffee draw Patsy Walker. After years of Patsy, MAD magazine arose as an opportunity and he took a massive paycut to work on things that excited him. (First he worked on the 2 issues of Hefner-funded Trump, then Humbug, then to MAD). Jaffee’s creations filled MAD—the zany inventions, the fold-ins, skewering hypocrisy left and right.