In 1964, Playboy Magazine was the talk of the town. Not only did they achieve a measure of journalistic credibility with cutting-edge writers, they did it while showing those . . . PICTURES! The most outrageous of all was the centerfold.
Playboy managed to transform the primary definition of the very word from a feature of a magazine to the most beautiful woman in the world that particular month.
The brains behind MAD decided it was time to cash in. But not with a centerfold. Nah, that had been done.
What they conceived was the idea that the back cover would need to be folded INWARDLY to reveal a hidden gag.
That’s what made MAD the greatest satire publication of all time: thinking like that. For the job, they picked Al Jaffe.
Jaffe, the genius behind Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, was the perfect choice. In fact, he continues to create the fold-in today! That’s 63 years at presstime. I believe it might have been a good choice.
Jaffe was drawing for Marvel Comics before they became Marvel in the 1940’s. He joined MAD in 1955. He has appeared in over 400 issues of the venerable journal.
Fold-ins have covered the gamut of humorous situations, with an emphasis on current events. The pictured one is aimed at anti-American sentiment which is running rampant at the moment. Of course, it makes it funny, as fold-ins should.
MAD is still around, although I must confess I don’t read it anymore. I’m sure it’s still above the rest as far as satire is concerned, but life has gotten too busy for me to spend those leisure hours reading the works of Aragones, Berg, Martin, and, of course, Jaffe. Here’s hoping Al is still at it when I finally get caught up.