Archive for October, 2010

Kurtzman and the Comics

Crumb, Terry Gilliam, Art Spiegelman, Gilbert Shelton, Denis Kitchen. These and many other artists hail Harvey Kurtzman as a seminal influence on their cartooning careers. The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics (Abrams ComicArts, 2009) by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle demonstrates how Kurtzman transformed the comics landscape forever through his notable work on Frontline Combat, Two-Fisted Tales, Mad and Help!, among other publications.

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman is visually stunning. It provides generous samplings of Kurtzman’s roughs, original line work, and colour reproductions, including:

  • The fully penciled layouts for “Corpse on the Imjun!” story from Two-Fisted Tales no. 25 (January-February, 1952)
  • Colour reproductions of the first 29 Mad covers
  • Colour reproductions of the full “Superduperman!” feature from Mad no. 4 (April-May 1953)
  • Colour reproductions of all nine Humbug covers
  • Eight pencilled sample pages from Kurtzman’s extended graphic narrative, “Marley’s Ghost”
  • Kurtzman’s solo story, “The Grasshopper and the Ant” from Esquire (May 1960)
  • All 26 Help! covers in colour
  • A detailed close-up of Little Annie Fanny’s breasts (!), and the never-before published Little Annie Fanny “origin story”
  • Reproductions of the four vellum roughs and final copy of a “Little Annie Fanny” splash page, demonstrating the level of painstaking detail that led to Hugh Hefner’s agreeing to a $3 000 page rate

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman is divided into five chapters, each of which coincides with Kurtzman’s involvement in various projects: his early army cartoons and “Hey Look!” strips of the 1940s; his E.C. work, in particular Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales; Mad; the relatively short-lived Trump, Humbug, and Help! magazines; and Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny.” Continue reading ‘Kurtzman and the Comics’

Lynd Ward: Six Novels in Woodcuts

New York Times Sunday Book Review of Six Novels in Woodcuts, a two volume boxed set reproducing Lynd Ward’s “silent novels.” The collection was edited by Art Spiegelman and published by the Library of America.

This looks like a beautiful publication. For anyone interested in the early origins of what is now being toted as the “graphic novel,” Gods’ Man by Lynd Ward is especially worthy of attention.


Interview between the Library of America and Art_Spiegelman_on_Lynd_Ward (PDF)

First_ten_pages_of_Gods_Man (PDF)

Lynd Ward’s illustrations for Frankenstein

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