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Table of Contents
Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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Series I: MAD magazine, 1964-2018
Series II: Other comics and illustrations, 1945-2014
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 4 series. Materials in each series are arranged in chronological order.
Scope and Contents
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.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 1, 22-28, 32-40, and 45. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least 72 hours 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.
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, July 2018, November 2019, and February 2022. Additions are expected.
Two additions were made to the collection after the first group of materials were processed: one in November 2019 (Boxes 42-45 and Mapcase drawer 15-H-18) and another in February 2022 (Box 41).
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Al and Joyce Jaffee in installments between 2013 and 2022.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Inscribed books processed ceh 06/21/2013.
Collection processed by Celeste Brewer. Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer in September 2018 and January 2019. Addition processed by Celeste Brewer in May 2023.
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.
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.
2020-06-24 Restriction on folder in Box 21 lifted. Contents were closed to researchers until after publication in MAD magazine.
2023-05-10 Addition to the collection integrated into container list by Celeste Brewer.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Al Jaffee (1921-2023), born Abraham Jaffee on March 13, 1921, was an American cartoonist best known for his work for MAD magazine, and in particular the intricate Fold-In pieces he created 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 wrote and illustrated "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 retired in 2020 at age 99, and died in York City on April 10, 2023.