The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics

Overview


Harvey Kurtzman discovered Robert Crumb and gave Gloria Steinem her first job in publishing when he hired her as his assistant. Terry Gilliam also started at his side, met an unknown John Cleese in the process, and the genesis of Monty Python was formed. Art Spiegelman has stated on record that he owes his career to him. And he's one of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner's favorite artists.

Harvey Kurtzman had a Midas touch for talent, but was himself an astonishingly talented and ...

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Overview


Harvey Kurtzman discovered Robert Crumb and gave Gloria Steinem her first job in publishing when he hired her as his assistant. Terry Gilliam also started at his side, met an unknown John Cleese in the process, and the genesis of Monty Python was formed. Art Spiegelman has stated on record that he owes his career to him. And he's one of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner's favorite artists.

Harvey Kurtzman had a Midas touch for talent, but was himself an astonishingly talented and influential artist, writer, editor, and satirist. The creator of MAD and Playboy's "Little Annie Fanny" was called, "One of the most important figures in postwar America" by the New York Times. Kurtzman's groundbreaking "realistic" war comics of the early '50s and various satirical publications (MAD, Trump, Humbug, and Help!) had an immense impact on popular culture, inspiring a generation of underground cartoonists. Without Kurtzman, it's unlikely we'd have had Airplane, SNL, or National Lampoon.

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman
is the first and only authorized celebration of this "Master of American Comics." This definitive book includes hundreds of never-before-seen illustrations, paintings, pencil sketches, newly discovered lost E.C. Comics layouts, color compositions, illustrated correspondence, and vintage photos from the rich Kurtzman archives

Winner of the 2010 Eisner Award for Best Comics-Related Book

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Editorial Reviews

Steven Heller
…insightful, entertaining and profusely illustrated…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Though his tenure lasted less than two years at the publication, Harvey Kurtzman is the genius responsible for Mad magazine's design, cast of characters, and unique brand of irreverence. In this beautifully illustrated volume, Kitchen and Buhle follow Kurtzman from his youth in the Depression-era Bronx, through his early freelance work, to his big break with William Gaines of E.C. Comics and beyond. At E.C., Kurtzman aired his anti-racist, anti-imperialist views in war comics Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Kurtzman spent "long hours in the New York Public Library researching" to create authentic entertainment that also "compels contemplation." Once he had a family to feed, Kurtzman embarked on a less time-consuming humor project, which in 1952 launched as a comic book called Mad. For 23 issues, Kurtzman did it all-"every word from front to back, and laid out every cover, each story, and filler"-and, ultimately, saved E.C. from bankruptcy. When E.C. denied the artist's request for partial ownership of the company, Kurtzman left. Eventually, he would establish three different humor magazines, none of which as successful as Mad, and spent the rest of his career doing a comic for Playboy. He remains a major influence on today's comic writers, and this vibrant collection makes it easy to see why.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
Harvey Kurtzman was a pioneering comics artist, best known as the creator of Mad magazine in 1952 and "Little Annie Fanny" comics (with Will Elder) in Playboy from 1962 to 1988. Revered by subsequent comics artists, Kurtzman nevertheless had a professional life filled with struggles and setbacks. This appreciation of Kurtzman's work reads more like a biography than an art book. The substantial text by Kitchen, a cartoonist, comic book publisher, and agent for the Kurtzman estate, and Buhle (Jews and American Comics) is generously illustrated by photographs of the artist, sketches, page layouts, and finished work by Kurtzman and others following his layouts. Numerous reprints of Kurtzman's publications, collections of his work, an index (The Illustrated Harvey Kurtzman Index), and a monograph (The Comics Journal Library: Harvey Kurtzman) have been published. This book reprints some finished pieces but includes mostly preparatory work, presented here for the first time. VERDICT An engrossing read for comics fans, baby boomers, and cultural studies scholars.—Kathryn Wekselman, MLn, Cincinnati
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810972964
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,422,868
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 11.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Denis Kitchen is a pioneering cartoonist, writer, editor, and underground comic book publisher. He represents the Kurtzman estate, and maintains the archives. In 1986 Kitchen established the nonprofit Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and served as its president for its first eighteen years. He lives in western Massachusetts. Paul Buhle is a senior lecturer in the American Civilization and History departments at Brown University. He has written and edited thirty-five books, including Jews and American Comics, and lives in Rhode Island. Harry Shearer is a comic personality and author, director, satirist, musician, radio host, playwright, multimedia artist, and record label owner.
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