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It's a Mad, Mad, Mad world

To the surprise of no one, some of the angry white men of Rhode Island are using the ongoing immigration debate to drop more of the insightful bon mots for which they have become known.

Fellows with a bit more panache know that the velvet glove is stronger than the rhetorical hammer.

Yesterday's New York Times profiled one such individual, illustrator Al Jaffee, who, at 87, continues to draw Mad magazine's signature back inside cover fold-ins -- a role he has performed since 1964.

[T]he second thing that strikes you upon meeting Mr. Jaffee is that the Mad wiseguy one expects is nowhere to be found. Mr. Jaffee is a genteel, unassuming fellow whose demeanor instantly suggests “gentleman.”

That is especially surprising because in addition to the fold-in, he is well known for Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions, another longstanding Mad feature that is basically a running clinic on how to insult someone. No insults here. But plenty of quick wit. When he was told that this article was intended for the Arts & Leisure section, where high culture is often documented, he tossed this off: “It’ll be Arts & Seizure when people see Mad in there.”

Mad is, incongruously, a publication that seems to cultivate longevity, as evident from artists like Mort Drucker (first appearance, 1957) and Sergio Aragonés (1963). No current contributor, though, goes back further than Mr. Jaffee. And while other Mad features, like Spy vs. Spy, have changed artists over the years, only Mr. Jaffee has drawn the fold-in. Since the first appeared in April 1964 all but a handful of specialty issues of the magazine have had one.

“A number of months ago I counted, and I came up with something like 396,” Mr. Jaffee said. “I must have done No. 400 by now.”

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