Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Al Jaffee Papers, 1945-2018

Summary Information


Al Jaffee (born March 13, 1921) is a comic artist best known for creating MAD magazine's iconic Fold-In feature. The collection contains extensive original artwork, including sketches, tracings, and proofs documenting Jaffee's creative process. Publishing and commission contracts, correspondence, clippings, and a small amount of programs and ephemera from fan conventions and other public appearances are also included.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1658
Bib ID 10277813 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Jaffee, Al
Title Al Jaffee Papers, 1945-2018
Physical Description 49 linear feet (6 record cartons, 9 manuscript boxes, 24 flat boxes, 1 tube, and 3 map case folders)
Language(s) English .

The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 1, 22-28, and 32-40. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in 4 series. Materials in each series are arranged in chronological order.



The collection contains includes artwork, correspondence, fan mail, contracts and publishing records, news clippings, inscribed books, and ephemera documenting the career of the comic artist and frequent MAD Magazine contributor Al Jaffee. Though Jaffee's career in comics spans eight decades, the bulk of the collection dates from the 1990s through the 2010s.

Series I and II contain extensive original artwork, including sketches, tracings, and proofs documenting Jaffee's creative process. Some additional artwork created for friends and family members, most notably a group of handmade cards for Joyce Jaffee, is included in Series IV.

  • Series I: MAD magazine, 1964-2018

    Materials documenting every stage of the creative process are present in Series I for most of the Fold-Ins Jaffee created for MAD magazine between 2004 and 2018. Some cartoons used for Jaffee's MAD feature "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" and other, smaller MAD projects are also included.

  • Series II: Other comics and illustrations, 1945-2014

    Series II contains original art created by Jaffee for other entities than MAD. These include the New York Herald-Tribune-syndicated cartoon "Tall Tales" (1958-1965) and several other unpublished cartoons that were created for potential newspaper syndication. The series also includes illustrations and background research for Jaffee's 2009 biography, Al Jaffee's MAD Life, and illustrations for the Moshiach Times' "The Shpy" dating from circa 1990s to 2013. Sketches, proofs, and tear sheets of advertisements and other contract work done by Al Jaffee are included as well.

  • Series III: Panels, conventions, exhibitions, and press, 1964-2017

    Series III includes materials related to Jaffee's appearances in public events and in the press. Clippings of interviews with Jaffee and reviews of his work are included. Some material related to Jaffee's 2006 retrospective exhibition, "Is This the Al Jaffee Art Exhibit?" at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art is also included. In addition, there are programs and other ephemera from panels, fan conventions (cons) at which Jaffee appeared, and comic arts industry award ceremonies circa 2000s-2010s. Publishing and commission contracts and related correspondence are also included, as is a small amount of documentation related to the sale or donation of original artwork by Al Jaffee.

  • Series IV: Correspondence and personal materials, circa 1970s-2017

    Series IV includes correspondence with other cartoonists and fan mail. It also includes books inscribed to Al Jaffee by his colleagues. Materials related to Al Jaffee's 90th and 95th birthday parties—large events attended by many of Jaffee's colleagues in comic arts—are also included. Finally, Series IV includes a group of birthday and anniversary cards made for Joyce Jaffee by Al Jaffee, and several boxes of books inscribed to Al Jaffee.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 1, 22-28, and 32-40. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Al Jaffee Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material

Oral History interview with Al Jaffee, 2016: Interview of Al Jaffee by Suzanne Snider on March 18, March 21, and December 21, 2016.

Al Jaffee Sampling of Correspondence, 1962-2002: At the Ohio State University's Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Contains fan mail, Jaffee's correspondence with other cartoonists, and an audiocassette of an interview with Toni Mendez regarding her role in founding the National Cartoonists Society.


The first group of materials was received in May 2013. Additional accretions were received in November 2013, April 2014, December 2014, and July 2018. Additions are expected.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Inscribed books processed ceh 06/21/2013.

Collection processed by Celeste Brewer. Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer in September 2018 and January 2019.

Artwork is physically arranged by size. Much of the collection's research value is in its demonstration of Jaffee's artistic process; as such, materials from individual projects were physically grouped together whenever possible.

Revision Description

2019-01-25 File created.

2019-01-31 xml document instance created by Celeste Brewer.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Greeting cards Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Illustrations Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Letters (correspondence) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Proofs (printed matter) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sketches Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
tear sheets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Cartoonists -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Comic books, strips, etc Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Lithuania -- Personal narratives Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jaffee, Al Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Al Jaffee, born Abraham Jaffee on March 13, 1921, is an American cartoonist best known for his work for MAD magazine, and in particular the intricate Fold-In pieces he creates for the magazine. Other popular works by Al Jaffee include the MAD feature "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions" and the comic strip "Tall Tales," which was syndicated by the New York Herald-Tribune between 1958 and 1965. He illustrated his biography, Al Jaffee's MAD Life, the text of which was written by Mary-Lou Weisman. Jaffee also writes and illustrates "The Shpy," published in the Brooklyn-based children's magazine Moshiach Times. As of 2016, he holds the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a comic artist.

Abraham Jaffee was born in Savannah, Georgia, to Mildred and Morris Jaffee, who were both Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Six years after his birth, Mildred Jaffee returned to Zarasai, Lithuania, with Abraham and his three younger brothers. Mildred and her sons moved back and forth between Savannah and Zarasai until 1937, when Morris brought his three oldest sons to live in the United States permanently. The youngest Jaffee brother, David, was able to escape from Europe in 1940, but Mildred Jaffee did not. Her family had no contact with her after 1940, and she is presumed to have been killed in Nazi-occupied Lithuania.

After returning to the United States, Jaffee attended the newly established High School of Music and Art in New York City. His classmates included future MAD magazine staff members Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, John Severin and Al Feldstein. Jaffee worked as an artist for the U.S. military during World War II, during which time he changed his name twice—first to Alvin, and then to Allan Jaffee. After the war, he worked with Stan Lee at Timely and Atlas Comics. He sold his first work to MAD in 1955.

Jaffee's first Fold-In, published in 1964, was intended as a one-off satire of double- and triple-fold-out pages in glossy magazines. Instead, it became MAD 's longest-running feature, appearing in almost every issue from that date forward. Jaffee won a Special Features Reuben Award from the National Cartoonists Society for the Fold-In in 1972. Among other honors, Jaffee holds a Reuben Award (2008) and an Eisner Award (2013). He lives in New York City with his wife, Joyce Jaffee.