With the sad passing of Al Jaffee this week, cartooning lost its oldest and longest-working artist. In fact, the man behind 55 years of MAD magazine Fold-Ins held the Guinness Book of World Record for having the longest career in the field. But his 1964 invention of that classic foldable end-page gag was not his first stab at rethinking form. His inspiration for the fold-in was an inversions of the then-trendy magazine fold-out. But it turns out that zigging when others zagged was a bit of a thing with Jaffee. Back in the mid-1950s he broke into the syndicated newspaper comic strip market by literally turning convention on its side. He called them Tall Tales.Continue reading
Tag Archives: MAD
Kurtzman Turns The Funnies Into The Sillies
As part of his general send-up of modern popular culture in the original MAD magazine, Harvey Kurtzman took special care with his satirical takes on famous American comic strips. Most often aided by the uncanny mimicry skills of Will Elder, who seemed able to channel any cartoonist’s style, it was clear that their hearts were really in these stories. Whether it was Manduck the Magician, Little Orphan Melvin or Prince Violent, these parodies were coming out of deep familiarity of having been raised on these strips. And Kurtzman always zeroed in on the inane in pop culture as his target.
Putting Manduck into a mind-bending duel with fellow mystic The Shadow was an inspired but typical Kurtzman assault on the shallow and phoney in pop culture conventions.Continue reading
MAD Looks at Politicized Comics: 1969
By the 1960s American newspaper comics had gained a deserved reputation as generally banal and innocuous pop culture, prime targets for satire. In April 1969 MAD Magazine took aim at the generally apolitical nature of most strips by imagining a world where comic strips actually reflected their culture. With art by Bob Clarke and script by Frank Ridgeway, “If Comic Strips Covered the Issues of the Day” has Superman coping with air pollution, Dick Tracy adapting to police brutality concerns and Mandrake the Magician’s already-racist depiction of his assistant Lothar turned into an even more troubling notion of Black American fantasies.