The warm responses to my post about working with Bil Keane have prompted me to remember that I’ve more recently worked with another great cartoonist: Mad magazine’s Al Jaffee. I happen to be the author (with the help of some terrific collaborators) of a series of humor books devoted to cultural snobbery: The Rock Snob’s Dictionary and The Film Snob’s Dictionary, both of which are out now, and The Food Snob’s Dictionary, which will be out this October, and The Wine Snob’s Dictionary, which will be out in 2008. (More titles en route after that, too.)
In the spring of 2005, I launched Snobsite to promote the first of the books, the Rock Snob one. With an uncharacteristic flourish of caffeinated ambition, I decided that I was going to enlist various cartoonist greats to contribute Rock Snob humor to my site, under the banner Snob Comix. The first person I sought out was Mr. Jaffee, because his famous, beloved, long-running Mad feature “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” seemed ideal for adapting to the world of Rock Snobs, whose zeal for petty one-upmanship is pretty much the definition of both snappiness and stupidity.
Mr. Jaffee, who is 86, doesn’t know much about rock music, especially about the lost causes and cult acts that Rock Snobs hold so dear, but, like Mr. Keane, he was surprisingly agreeable to illustrating a script written by me. The result, in June 2005, was “Snobby Answers to Loser Questions!,” the first panel of which is reproduced above. (Note how nicely he worked in the Sigur Ros and Black Flag posters.) You can see the whole three-panel fruit of our Rock Snob collaboration here.
(As had been the case with Bil Keane, I had worked with Jaffee once before–under the auspices of GQ in the 1990s, when I was an editor there. What Jaffee did for GQ was a takeoff on the “Snappy” cartoons starring the “9/10 version” of Rudy Giuliani, who, in the years immediately preceding the terrorist attacks, was becoming increasingly tetchy and short-fused. Jaffee’s cartoon showed the NYC mayor viciously responding to interlocutors he found dimwitted, his lines all taken verbatim from the news.)
Something must have been in the air that summer of ’05. Shortly after “Snobby Answers...” was posted, complete with the illustration above of the dorky man purchasing Beck’s then-new album Guero, Beck released a video for that album’s second single, “Girl,” that paid homage to Jaffee’s other famous, beloved, long-running Mad magazine feature, the Fold-In. In an interview, Beck called the video an “East L.A. tribute to Al Jaffee.” Jaffee’s wife, Joyce, more computer-savvy than her husband, e-mailed me to say, “Pretty hot stuff, eh?”
And what of Snob Comix, my grand plan? Totally neglected: as of this date, I’ve yet to follow up Mr. Jaffee’s contribution with another cartoonist’s. But that may change soon. I’ve had some interesting conversations recently...
May 6, 2007 Link