Saturday, September 29, 2012

MAD's Vastly Overrated Al Jaffee

1976, possibly first edition, from Warner Books
Al Jaffee
MAD's Vastly Overrated Al Jaffee
Possibly bought new for $3.95
Very worn paperback, with last page coming loose

A collection of "lowlights" written and/or illustrated by Jaffee, covering from 1957 to the then present.  Not only are there several fold-ins (with before and after versions) and some "Snappy Answers," but there are lesser known recurring features like "Hawks & Doves," "The MAD Hate Book," and my personal favorite, "MAD's Puzzle Page," as well as some interesting one-shots.  "If Kids Designed Their Own Xmas Toys" is probably the best of the latter.  Among the guest artists are Bob Clarke, who does a surprisingly dead-on parody of Charles Addams; and Wally Wood, illustrating "World Leaders," ca. 1960, including Ike, JFK, Nixon, Eleanor Roosevelt, De Gaulle, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Parr, and Elvis!

The most important thing to keep in mind when reading Al Jaffee is that he had an uncanny ability to predict future inventions, and that the things he humorously suggested really weren't yet around three or four decades ago.  In this book alone, we see precursors to spell-check ("idiot-proof typewriters"), gimmicky postal stamps, the mute button on a remote, the breathalyzer, and the mechanical bull (well, horse).

As with the Snappy Answers book from 1972, this is entertaining but not hilarious.  Also, I got tired of the mild sexism, though he's hardly the worst MAD contributor for that.

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