So I was browsing the bookstore last weekend and came across this book released last year. It is Mary Lou Weisman’s biography of MAD Magazine illustrator/writer Al Jaffee. Al illustrated the book. I am amazed at his ability to do crowd scenes (something I avoid for good reason).
Now for those who the name doesn’t register, anyone who has ever read a MAD Magazine is familiar with the Fold-In illustrations on the last page of almost every issue. What is amazing is realizing that Al was able to do these fold-ins before being able to use a computer to line up the images and words.
It is an incredible story of a boy who was born in the United States and dragged over to Lithuania TWICE by his homesick mother. His father lost many a job and went broke trying to get his sons back and barely did so before Hitlers troops came to town. One of my favorite quotes from Al is when he is describing the public baths. In the shtetl he lived, his mother dragged him to the baths and spent the better part of the day covering his “privates.” He complained so much that his mother found a gentlemen to take the boys in with the men. Al said of the experience:
Lots of men had what was called a killa, a form of rupture. If you continue working at the jobs these people had to do – lifting logs and two-hundred-pound bundles into a drover’s care – little by little your intestines work their way down into your scrotum, eventually making it as big as a basketball. No doctor in town could perform a hernia operation, so you’ve got these guys walking around with this basketball between their legs. You can imagine how sickening that was for me. I couldn’t look. The rest of the package – the schlongs hanging down – wasn’t so inviting either.”
No wonder at age 90 he still has a sick sense of MAD humor. You can get the book at Amazon or many of your local bookstores.