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Encyclopedia > Harvey Kurtzman

Harvey Kurtzman (October 3, 1924 - February 21, 1993) was a U.S. cartoonist and magazine editor. In 1952, he was the founding editor of the comic book Mad for EC Comics publisher Bill Gaines, later creating the magazine's mascot, Alfred E. Neuman. Kurtzman was equally well known for the long-running Little Annie Fanny stories in Playboy magazine from 1962 to 1988, parodying the very attitudes that Playboy promoted. Because Mad had a considerable impact on popular culture, Kurtzman was later described by the New York Times as having been "one of the most important figures in postwar America." Kurtzman often signed his name "H. Kurtz [male stick figure]" (i.e., "H. Kurtz-Man). ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (693x1003, 217 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... ImageMetadata File history File links Download high resolution version (693x1003, 217 KB) File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... October 3 is the 276th day of the year (277th in Leap years). ... 1924 (MCMXXIV) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... February 21 is the 52nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1993 (MCMXCIII) is a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar and marked the Beginning of the International Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination (1993-2003). ... The United States of America — also referred to as the United States, the U.S.A., the U.S., America, the States, or (archaically) Columbia—is a federal republic of 50 states located primarily in central North America (with the exception of two states: Alaska and Hawaii). ... A cartoonist at work. ... Harvey Kurtzmans cover for the first issue of the comic book Mad Mad is an American humor magazine founded by publisher William Gaines and editor Harvey Kurtzman in 1952. ... Entertaining Comics was headed by William Gaines but is better known by its publishing name of EC Comics. ... William Maxwell Gaines (March 1, 1922–June 3, 1992), or Bill Gaines as he was called, was the founder of MAD Magazine but he was also noted for his efforts to create comic books of sufficient artistic quality and interest to appeal to adults. ... Alfred E. Neuman of Mad magazine A photo from 1895 shows one of the earliest variations of Alfred E.Neuman Alfred E. Neuman is the fictional mascot of EC Publications Mad magazine. ... Little Annie Fanny is a long running comic strip created by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder for Playboy that parodied the comic strip, Little Orphan Annie. ... Classic Playboy logo. ... In contemporary usage, parody is a form of satire that imitates another work of art in order to ridicule it. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ...


Early years

As a child he drew "Ikey and Mikey," a regular comic strip done in chalk on sidewalks. In 1939, Kurtzman won a contest in Tip Top Comics, the prize for which was the publication of a drawing and one dollar. As a freelance artist-writer during his early years in the comic book industry, his most notable output was a series of humorous one-page fillers called "Hey Look!"


Kurtzman found his niche at EC Comics, editing the war comics Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales. Kurtzman was known for a painstaking attention to detail, typically sketching full layouts and breakdowns for the stories he assigned to artists and insisting they not deviate from his instructions. Despite (or because of) his autocratic ways, Kurtzman's early 1950s work, principally Mad, is still considered among the medium's finest. Entertaining Comics was headed by William Gaines but is better known by its publishing name of EC Comics. ... Entertaining Comics was headed by William Gaines but is better known by its publishing name of EC Comics. ... Entertaining Comics was headed by William Gaines but is better known by its publishing name of EC Comics. ...


The evolution of Mad was marked by Kurtzman's recognition of his own value and talents. The comic book owed its existence to Kurtzman's complaint to publisher Gaines that EC's two editors — himself and Al Feldstein — were being paid substantially different salaries. Gaines pointed out that Feldstein produced more titles for EC and did so more swiftly. The men then agreed that if Kurtzman could create a humor publication, Gaines would raise his pay substantially. Al Feldstein (born October 24, 1925) is an American painter of Western wildlife and an influential author-editor who wrote, drew and edited for EC Comics and MAD Magazine. ...


Four years later, amid an industry crackdown on the comic books that EC was producing, Kurtzman received an offer to join the staff of Pageant. The men agreed to expand Mad from a ten-cent comic book to a 25-cent magazine, and Kurtzman stayed, preferring to run his own title. Although retaining Kurtzman was Gaines' prime motivation, this revamp completely removed Mad from the Comics Code Authority's censorious overview, thereby assuring its survival. The seal of the Comics Code Authority, which appears on the covers of approved comic books. ...


During the 1950s, Kurtzman was also one of the writers for the relaunched Flash Gordon daily strip. Amusingly, the strip was one of Kurtzman's many Mad targets, with 1954's parody "Flesh Garden!", illustrated by Wally Wood. Flash Gordon is a science fiction comic strip originally drawn by Alex Raymond, first published on January 7, 1934. ... Daily strips are newspaper comic strips that appear in newspapers Monday through Saturday, as contrasted with Sunday strips which appear on Sunday. ... Wallace Wally Wood (born June 17, 1927, Menahga, Minnesota, United States; died November 2, 1981), was an American writer-artist best known for his work in EC Comics and Mad. ...


Departure from Mad

By 1957, with Mad sales increasing, and all of EC's other titles having been cancelled, Kurtzman demanded a 51% share of Gaines' business. Gaines balked and hired Feldstein to replace Kurtzman as editor. The incident has been a source of controversy ever since. There are some who feel the magazine critically peaked under Kurtzman and never again regained its magic, settling into a predictable formula. There are others who think Kurtzman's own formulaic tendencies would have worn out their welcome more obviously, if not for his early and sudden exit. Kurtzman's departure may have allowed his fans to fantasize about a magazine-format Mad that never was, in which his satiric eye never fogged, as it did outside of Mad.


The "art vs. commerce" showdown between Kurtzman and Gaines (in which Kurtzman gets the hero's role of David while Gaines plays the vulgarian Goliath) has long been a compelling characterization for some. But it's likely that no 1950s publisher other than Bill Gaines would ever have printed Mad in the first place. When Kurtzman and Feldstein were producing humor comics at the same time (Feldstein edited EC's lesser sister publication Panic), it's generally recognized that the difference in quality was vast. Thus, Feldstein got a reputation as the craftsman who replaced the genius.


However, it's inarguable that Mad's greatest heights of circulation and influence came under Feldstein, while Kurtzman never again recaptured his share of the zeitgeist or edited another important or successful magazine. Kurtzman's supporters say luck was against him, and there is evidence for this. But it's also true that nothing Kurtzman produced after his original Mad run approached it for bite or observational wit; the 25+ years of Little Annie Fanny were especially tepid and banal. In the end, and for all his substantial achievements, Kurtzman's career was forever colored by a sense of "what might have been."


Kurtzman was also the editor of Trump, published by Hugh Hefner in 1957, which presented Kurtzman's Mad sensibilities in a glossy, upscale magazine format. He later led an artists collective of himself, Will Elder, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, Harry Chester, and Arnold Roth in publishing Humbug, which failed to overcome distribution and financial problems. Trump was a glossy magazine of satire and erotic humor, mostly in the forms of comic-strip features and short stories. ... Hugh Hefner, mid 1970s. ... William Elder (born 1921) is a comic book artist. ... Jack Davis (born December 2, 1924) is an American cartoonist and illustrator. ... Al Jaffee (born March 13, 1921) is a cartoonist, best known for his work in MAD Magazine. ... Arnold Roth (born February 25, 1929, in Philadelphia, PA) is an American cartoonist. ... Humbug was a humor magazine edited by Harvey Kurtzman. ...


Kurtzman's last regular editorial position was at the helm of Warren Publishing's Help! from 1962 to 1966. Though relying heavily on photography, Help! gave the first national exposure to certain artists and writers who would dominate underground comix later on, such as Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson. The magazine also provided a brief forum for John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, who first worked together under Kurtzman's direction, years before Monty Python. The most notorious article to appear in Help! was "Goodman Beaver Goes Playboy!", a ribald parody of Archie Comics that resulted in a lawsuit from Archie's publisher. Despite a talented roster of friends and contributors including Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Gahan Wilson along with the above names, the magazine folded after 26 issues. Warren Publishing was a publication company better known for the Warren adult comic magazines which were the major black and white horror magazines from the 1960s through the 1970s. ... Help! Harvey Kurtzmans longest-running magazine project after leaving Mad Magazine and EC Publications, Help! (1960-1965) was a chronically underfunded but innovative magazine published by James Warren, who was also publishing successful monster-movie and horror comics magazines simultaneously. ... Mr. ... Robert Crumb (born August 30, 1943 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an artist and illustrator recognized for the distinctive style of his drawings and his critical, satirical, subversive view of the American mainstream. ... Gilbert Shelton (born May 31, 1940, Houston, Texas) is an American cartoonist and underground comics artist. ... // Biography (b. ... John Cleese as Q in Die Another Day. ... Terry Gilliam at Cannes 2001 Terence Vance Gilliam (born November 22, 1940) is a film director and a member of the Monty Python comedy group. ... The Monty Python troupe in 1970. ... Help! Harvey Kurtzmans longest-running magazine project after leaving Mad Magazine and EC Publications, Help! (1960-1965) was a chronically underfunded but innovative magazine published by James Warren, who was also publishing successful monster-movie and horror comics magazines simultaneously. ... Archie Comics is an American comic book publisher known for its many series featuring the fictional teenagers Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and Forsythe Jughead Jones. ... Ray Bradbury in 1945. ... Sir Arthur C. Clarke Sir Arthur Charles Clarke (born December 16, 1917) is a British author and inventor, most famous for his science-fiction novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for collaborating with director Stanley Kubrick on the film of the same name. ... Gahan Wilson (born February 18, 1930) is an author, cartoonist, and illustrator in the United States. ...


In his later years, Kurtzman continued to work on projects and anthologies, as well as teaching a cartooning class at New York's School of Visual Arts. Beginning in 1988, the Harvey Awards were first given to the year's outstanding comics and creators. In the years before his death, Kurtzman returned to Mad for a brief stint, along with long-time collaborator Will Elder. Their occasional two-page stories were simply signed "WEHK". State nickname: The Empire State Official languages English Capital Albany Largest city New York City Governor George Pataki (R) Senators Charles Schumer (D) Hillary Clinton (D) Area  - Total  - % water Ranked 27th 141,205 km² 13. ... The School of Visual Arts Main Building, circa 1992. ... The Harvey Awards are given for achievement in comic books. ...


In the end, Kurtzman's critical reputation has outlasted his career valleys and the formulaic or disappointing projects. He is routinely celebrated for his visual verve and artistic successes, and is cited as an influence by many important cartoonists. In its much-critiqued 2000 list of the century's Top 100 comics, the Comics Journal awarded Kurtzman 5 of the slots: The Comics Journal is an American magazine of news and criticism pertaining to comic books and strips, renowned for its in-depth interviews, often scathing reviews, and an editorial ethos that views comics as a fine art deserving of broader cultural respect. ...

  • 8. Mad by Harvey Kurtzman & various
  • 12. EC's "New Trend" war comics by Harvey Kurtzman & various
  • 26. The Jungle Book by Harvey Kurtzman
  • 63. Hey Look! by Harvey Kurtzman
  • 64. Goodman Beaver by Harvey Kurtzman & Bill Elder

External links

  • Illustrated rundown of Kurtzman's career

  Results from FactBites:
 
Harvey Kurtzman at AllExperts (1159 words)
Kurtzman was known for a painstaking attention to detail, typically sketching full layouts and breakdowns for the stories he assigned to artists and insisting they not deviate from his instructions.
Kurtzman's departure may have allowed his fans to fantasize about a magazine-format Mad that never was, in which his satiric eye never fogged, as it did outside of Mad.
Kurtzman was also the editor of Trump, published by Hugh Hefner in 1957, which presented Kurtzman's Mad sensibilities in a glossy, upscale magazine format.
Cartoonist Group - Background About Harvey Kurtzman (947 words)
Kurtzman then spent two years in the army and returned to a transformed comic book industry: freelance production dominated work distributed by publishers.
With Stan Lee as his editor, Kurtzman enjoyed significant artistic freedom (which was atypical in an industry that valued consistency) and this allowed him to develop his storytelling and artistic skills.
Kurtzman was recognized during his lifetime by numerous awards, including an Ink Pot Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 1977 San Diego Comics Convention, an Ignatz Gold Brick (Lucca, Italy) and a good number of Eisner and -- yes -- Harvey Awards.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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