Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, and Gary Groth Talk Humbug at The Strand

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[Left to Right: Arnold Roth, Gary Groth, and Al Jaffee]

Of course it takes a special occasion to get Art Spiegelman, Adriane Tomine, Evan Dorkin, Bob Fingerman, R. Sikoyak, and a handful of fellow New York comics luminaries to forgo the warmth of their respective burroughs, braving the mid-April drizzle to sit amongst The Strand bookstore’s folding chairs.

For his part, Fantagraphics head honcho Gary Groth flew in from the publisher’s home in the scenic northwest to emcee the event—a celebration of Humbug Magazine’s rerelease in the form of two hardbound volumes, the first time the short-lived humor magazine has seen the light of day since its original year-long run in the late-50s.
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Interview: Arnold Roth Pt. 3 [of 3]

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arnoldrothbear

In this final part of our interview with legendary cartoonist Arnold Roth, we discuss the his work creating covers for jazz LPs for artists like Dave Brubeck, his relationship with novelist John Updike, his connection to PG Wodehouse, and why not working for Playboy means you don’t want to live.

[Part One]
[Part Two]
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Interview: Arnold Roth Pt. 2 [of 2]

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arnoldrothdinner

Since first launching his career six decades ago, Arnold Roth has become one of the best know and most beloved cartoonists of the 20th century. His work has appeared on the cover of Time and in the pages of virtual every well-known American publication, from The New Yorker to Sports Illustrated to Playboy to The New York Times.

Of course, the cartoonist had to pay his dues, just like the rest of us. In this second part of our interview with the artist, we dig into Roth’s early career, before The New Yorker, before Playboy—even before Humbug and Trump—to discover how he went from being expelled from a Philadelphia commercial arts college to becoming one of the most celebrated cartoonists working today.

[Part One]
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Interview: Arnold Roth Pt. 1 [of 3]

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arnoldrothcrowd

Fantagraphics’ new two book Humbug set marks the first time that the long-defunct magazine’s material has been pulled together into a single collection.  Forty years after its initial publication, the magazine has largely been forgotten by all but the most devout cartooning fans. Its founders Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee and Will Elder, however, should be familiar to all of those who have a passing knowledge of that perennial favorite humor magazine, Mad. Jaffee, Davis, and Elder all followed Kurtzman as the editor made the jump from Mad to Hugh Hefner’s newly launched humor magazine, Trump.

After two issues, however, Trump’s increasing expenses and Hefner’s own economic troubles resulted in the closure of that magazine. Along the way, however, the four Mad refugees added yet another creative cartooning force to the team—a young Philadelphian named Arnold Roth. It was with Roth, funds culled together by the five artists, and some residual Hefner office space that Humbug was born.

Humbug, too folded quickly, completing a paltry print run of 11 issues. Roth, however, would go on to a diverse and successful career illustrating for Playboy; creating his own syndicated strip, Poor Arnold’s Almanac; designing album art for Dave Brubeck; and drawing book covers for John Updike.

We sat down with the artist, a month after his 80th birthday, to discuss Humbug and his early forays into the world of cartooning.

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Interview: Al Jaffee Pt. 3 [of 3]

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aljaffeetalltales

Al Jaffee might have turned 88 last week, but the artist shows no sign of stopping. Since 1964, he has appeared in nearly every issue of Mad Magazine, having pioneered some of that publication’s most-beloved and longest lasting features, including the Fold-in and Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions. To say that Jaffee has been a major influence in modern American gag writing seems like a gross understatement. Along with early Mad peers like Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, and Jack Davis, Jaffee pratically invented the stuff.

In this third and final part of our interview with the artist, we dive back into Jaffee’s early career, from his first days with Mad, to the creation of the humor magazines Trump and Humbug—and beyond.

[Part One]

[Part Two]
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