07 October 2013

Al Jaffee Archive Folded into Columbia Library Collection

When I was a boy, my favorite in MAD’s “usual bunch of idiots” was Al Jaffee. I especially liked his Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions series. I can’t really say why I bought those paperbacks more than those from any other cartoonist in the magazine, but I did. Jaffee was also known, of course, for the magazine’s last-page fold-ins.

In July, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University announced that it had acquired Jaffee’s archives. Its press release stated:
Jaffee was in the first graduating class of the LaGuardia-founded High School of Music & Art, where he met his long-time colleagues Will Elder, Harvey Kurtzman, and Al Feldstein. Jaffee began his cartooning career working for Stan Lee on comic books such as Patsy Walker and Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal, and his Tall Tales comic strip appeared in the New York Herald Tribune for six years.
Plus MAD, which Jaffee has contributed to for nearly sixty years.

The New York Times just reported on the impending arrival of the first batch of material, and also provided more facts on the gift. Most notably, the librarian who approached Jaffee at last year’s New York Comic-Con, Karen Green, started as a specialist in ancient and medieval history. But she also “led a secret life as a cartoon and comic book fan.”

Green is now the library’s graphic novels specialist. And the Rare Book and Manuscript Department also houses material from former Columbia student Jerry Robinson (I think he dropped out after finding work on Batman) and X-Men scripter Chris Claremont.

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