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The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics Hardcover – Bargain Price, June 1, 2009


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The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics + MAD's Greatest Artists: Mort Drucker: Five Decades of His Finest Works
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams ComicArts; 1 edition (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810972964
  • ASIN: B005CDUPL4
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 x 1.1 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #928,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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.

About 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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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Harvey Kurtzman was the best cartoonist / satirist EVER.
Melvin Shmuck
You'll see art from Two-fisted Tales, Frontline Combat, Mad, Trump, Humbug, Help!
Robin Benson
My only complain is that the book should have been bigger.
NYdirector

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Sherm Cohen on June 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Length: 2:54 Mins
Want to look through the Art of Harvey Kurtzman book before you run out and buy it? I just made a video browsing through the whole thing! Take a look at all the rare art and wonderful cartoony delights in the video below...This book has enough history, art and context to introduce new fans and reward long-time readers of the greatest cartoonist of the late twentieth century.The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on June 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Well worth the wait! At last a super looking book about the comics funny man. There are several books about Mad and a recently published Humbug reprint (a Trump one is touch-and-go) help to reveal how great Kurtzman was and this book is a handsome biography not only in words but with two hundred well chosen illustrations.

His story, by Kitchen and Buhle, is helped because they represent the Kurtzman estate and clearly had access to a lot of original artwork which I doubt has been seen before. You'll see art from Two-fisted Tales, Frontline Combat, Mad, Trump, Humbug, Help! and Little Annie Fanny all with decent captions, too.

The book's production is really first-class and a nice touch is the addition of four pages printed on tracing paper that overlay a page of Little Annie Fanny, the long captions explain just how much work went into each page of the Playboy feature.

Since his death in 1993 Kurtzman's stature has grown and rightly so but I thought it unfortunate that he never quite achieved the perfection he was always striving for with his publications. I bet he would have appreciated the love and care that has gone into this book tribute.

***SEE SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Thomas R. Sito on June 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Harvey Kurtzman, like his contemporary Wally Wood, is not as well known today, but was one of the most influential cartoonists of the mid Twentieth Century. His style helped define EC Comics, MAD Magazine and Little Annie Fannie. He helped new cartoonists get their starts, from Drew Friedman to Art Speigelman to Robert Crumb. Like Wood, his biggest fans were his fellow cartoonists.
Paul Buhle and Dennis Kitchen have done a masterful job in finally telling the story of this unsung creative genius, in words and images. This book is a MUST for anyone who is serious about becoming a cartoonist or collecting cartoons.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James D. Crabtree VINE VOICE on November 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Kurtzman was without a doubt a cartooning genius. I loved a lot of his work before I ever realized who he was. This book looks at his work from EC to Mad (where he guided the publication to a magazine format, where it really took off) to his own magazines which, in many ways were ahead of their times, to the work he did for Playboy Magazine. Kurtzman's style and humor combined to create a solid collection of work which has influenced many artists.

The author has collected a great deal of Kurtzman's work, both never-before-seen material and material which illustrated some of his best work. In addition, the book contains sketches and layouts which shows how Kurtzman worked out the design of his work (and how he developed ideas for others). Overall, the book will make you better appreciate a man who did a lot to shape humor in the 20th Century, although few people know it.

One unfortunate aspect of this book, and one which prevented it from getting 5 stars, was the obligatory paragraph well within the work which railed against the War in Iraq. What the heck does the life of a cartoonist who served during WWII, who pushed the boundaries of humor in the 1950s, who edited several innovative magazines and who died in the 1990s have to do with the Iraq War? Is it necessary for writers to slip in some criticism of the Global War on Terror in order to validate their liberal credentials? Will there soon be cookbooks which rail against Cheney when discussing how long to cook pheasant? Will we see guidebooks to walking tours of the Appalachians which will talk about how they resemble the mountains of Afghanistan "before the illegal occupation?" This is a huge turn-off and I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks so.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on September 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you have never heard of Harvey Kurtzman, you have seen his work; for instance, his cover logo for _MAD Magazine_ is one of the most easily recognized of trademarks. Kurtzman was in with _MAD_ from the beginning, and it is perhaps what he is most famous for, but he did plenty else, and it isn't exaggeration to say that if Kurtzman hadn't put out such prodigious and respected (and funny) work, we might not have had R. Crumb or Art Spiegelman, or Monty Python, or the Simpsons. So he is worth knowing about, and even more, his cartoons are worth looking at, and so it is wonderful to have a big new book of biography accompanied by his drawings, _The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics_ (Abrams Comicarts) by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle. _MAD_ may not even be Kurtzman's best work, or even his most-seen, so it is a delight to see what came before and after. Kurtzman was a serious comic satirist, and the authors have done much to show him in that light. "In _MAD_ and all his subsequent ventures," they write, "Kurtzman drew a bead on the phony aspects and idiosyncrasies of modern commercial culture - from advertising to film to comic book clichés." He skewered Joe McCarthy and those who would censor comics, among many others, so his issues were serious, but his weapon was laughter.

Kurtzman grew up in the Bronx, and he was a bright kid at school, with obvious artistic capability. He went to the High School of Music and Art, and he did all the drawing and painting in the curriculum, but he fell in love with _Terry and the Pirates_, _Dick Tracy_, _Flash Gordon_, and _Li'l Abner_.
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