Review: Al Jaffee’s Mad Life

Al Jaffee's Mad Life
Al Jaffee’s Mad Life by Mary-Lou Weisman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a decidedly different type of comic book creator biography than most I’ve been used to reading. It is well over half-way into the book before Al Jaffee’s comic book career is really mentioned.

It is a fascinating look at a very creative cartoonist who grew up in some very daunting circumstances, having been forced to go back to his mother’s relatively primitive homeland of Lithuania twice during his formative years. There is a lot of reminiscing about that time period, but it is not boring or trite – ii’s simply fascinating. The detail reminds me of a Laura Ingalls Wilder book, but the attitude is all Al Jaffee. Still, with this rustic upbringing and the various other travails, it’s so surprising, at least to me, that he managed to turn out to be the humorist he did … at least not without a laundry list of mental problems. Definitely glad he did, naturally.

The book proceeds on to his work with various comic book companies, including Stan Lee at Timely/Atlas (which would become Marvel), some short runs working for Harvey Kurtzman and, of course, his legendary run for Bill Gaines at Mad Magazine. There’s a wealth of detail there as well.

This is a great read whether you’re a comic book fan or not.

View all my reviews

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