Interview: Al Jaffee [unabridged]

By DAN MAZUR  |  November 18, 2010

Then there was the third element, that Hefner called us in to tell us the bad news that he was overextended with his bank and they were not going to finance the cost of Trump. It's true at that time other magazines were folding. Colliers went under and a number of other very prominent magazines went under because they couldn't get bank money. It was a time like now. You couldn't get anyone to back a magazine now.

Early '60s? No, '50s. I would say '56, '57. Somewhere around there. So Hefner says he had to pull out. Other people that I've spoken to in Hefner's organization said, well Harvey just wasn't getting the magazine out on schedule and you can't sell advertising in a magazine. Oh, that was another plan: Hefner was going to carry advertising in Trump, just the way he carried advertising in Playboy and, in fact, he probably felt that he could sell advertising in Trump that wouldn't be seen in Playboy. So he would have the best of two worlds. That didn't work out, so then Harvey created Humbug, and we all invested in that. But it was underfinanced and it went 11 issues. It was a nice magazine, I don't know if you've seen the boxed collection of it.

Was Help another EC title? No.

Panic was the other EC title! Now Panic was a copy of Mad, it was a comic book, but it was edited by Al Feldstein and I think it was written by Al Feldstein. See Harvey wrote all of the Mad comic-book stories, because that's how he was making a living. So Feldstein, when he got permission to do Panic, he wrote all of Panic and then he got all of Harvey's artists and they were happy to get more work. So they put out two magazines. But eventually Panic folded, I don't know when, and only Mad remained. Because Bill Gaines had a lot of trouble with the Kefauver committee . . . the juvenile delinquency, Frederic Wertham, and that kind of stuff.

Which by the way, that also happened in Europe and in Japan — they had their own version. Censorhsip?

To varying degrees. Usually self-censorship, like it was here. The industry censoring itself under pressure. To varying degrees but the same arguments: education, crime. But it happened everywhere. In England and Japan. Maybe not in France. It was easy to blame comic books, I don't know why. I mean, did parents actually see their kids not doing their homework and just paying attention to comic books? Then I would have said to my kids, you can't have comic books, do your homework. Since I wasn't privy to everyone's household, I don't know what was going on there.

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