Al Jaffee, who created Mad Magazine’s tri-fold back cover with a hidden punchline and other features like “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions,” has died, according to multiple media reports. He was 102.
Jaffee died at a hospital Monday in Manhattan, the New York Times reported. His granddaughter Fani Thomson cited multi-system organ failure.
Jaffee’s bold signature was a familiar sight to any regular reader of Mad since 1964, when his first fold-in comic made fun of Elizabeth Taylor. (She’s still with Richard Burton when unfolded, and with another guy when folded together).
Jaffee said he came up with the idea for a fold-in comic – but he thought the editors of Mad were “not going to buy” his kooky gimmick. But they did, and Jaffee went on to create hundreds of hand-drawn images that, when folded together just so, reveal a hidden meaning or punchline.
For 55 years, Jaffee was the only artist to draw the fold-in feature. In 2007, he was honored with the Reuben Award, putting him in the same company as Charles M. Schulz, Gary Larson, Matt Groening and others.
Mad stopped printing new material, with the exception of year-end specials, in 2019.