Al Jaffee at Comic Arts Brooklyn and Scott Eder Gallery

Legendary Mad mag illustrator comes to Brooklyn comics fest

The Brooklyn Paper
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They’re bringing him into the fold!

Comic Arts Brooklyn, the annual cartoon and comics festival, is back Nov. 6–9, and this year it has a big draw — and a big drawer. Legendary illustrator Al Jaffee, the man behind Mad magazine’s famous fold-ins, will give a talk about his work at the Wythe Hotel on Nov. 9. The festival’s founder said Jaffee has been at the top of his list for a long time.

“He really defines what you think of when you think of Mad,” said Gabe Fowler, who owns Williamsburg indie comic store Desert Island and has been organizing Kings County comic events for the past six years. “And that was the first comic book I ever read.”

Jaffee has been drawing the fold-ins since 1964. They appear on the back inside-cover of the magazine and were created as a cheeky response to Playboy’s centerfolds, which fold out, Fowler explained.

“It went along with their self-deprecating sense of humor,” he said.

Comic Arts kicks off with a reception at Desert Island on Nov. 6, followed by an opening for the Jaffee exhibition — which includes 12 original works hanging unfolded in Dumbo’s Scott Eder Gallery — the following evening. The fair’s full days run over the weekend, with 100 artists exhibiting, selling, and signing their work at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Williamsburg on Saturday, plus a day-long series of talks at the Wythe on Sunday.

All the events are free to the public, which Fowler said is one of its most important features.

“There’s plenty of comic festivals out there, but hardly any are free,” he said. “We really want people to come and checkout what these creative people are doing.”

Another big name at the fest will be Mark Newgarden, best known for creating the “Garbage Pail Kids” trading card series in the 1980s. He will be releasing a new children’s book called “Bow Wow’s Nightmare Neighbors.” Newgarden, who lives in Williamsburg, has shown his work at Fowler’s festivals since they began. He said Comic Arts has a more underground feel than many other comics conventions.

“It’s really about the art and less about the industry,” Newgarden said. “You’re not going to see characters in costumes advertising the latest Marvel film. It has an intimate, grassroots feel.”

The festival also offers a chance for members of the Brooklyn comic community to step out of their studios and get together, he said.

“There’s an awful lot of us in Brooklyn, as it turns out,” Newgarden said.

Comic Arts Brooklyn at various locations throughout Brooklyn ( Nov. 6–9 at various times. Free.

“Al Jaffee Unfolded” at Scott Eder Gallery [18 Bridge St. between John and Plymouth streets in Dumbo, (718) 797–1100,]. Nov. 7–Dec. 19. Call for times. Free.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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