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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: 11.5 x 10.6 x 1.1 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: #1,141,425 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DE Burke on August 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A superb and lavish book on the master.
I am in awe of Harvey as usual.
From Sergio Arogones to modern humor..we can see his influence.
One of my favorite books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jollygorilla on June 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a must for any fan or professional cartoonist. I was not expecting such a well made book. besides being HUGE its packed full of full color art, concept art and history and it is like a classroom in a book and the book is not even a "how to book"
I'll be honest I knew of Harvey Kurtzman but I always pushed him to the side for those like Jack Davis, but Wow Kurtzman truly is a genius a true Cartoonist Genius and opened my eyes to a true Historical Cartooning Icon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. Orion Pozo on September 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Art of Harvey Kurtzman is a large-format well-illustrated overview of Harvey Kurtzman's work. The book is divided into 5 chronological chapters based on major periods in his life. Each chapter is illustrated with rough sketches from Kurtzman's personal archives and other half-finished pieces or sections, as well as at least one finished work from the period.

Chapter 1 is entitled "Hey Look! It's the '40s" and is an outline of his earliest work in cartooning. Included are six of the 150 "Hey Look!" one-page comics he did for Stan Lee's Marvel.

Chapter 2 reviews his work with Bill Gaines' E.C. Comics, mostly doing war comics. There is a 7 page section where his story "Corpse on the Imjin" (from Two-Fisted Tales #25, January 1952) is reproduced in black & white drawings.

Chapter 3 is the heart of the book and devoted to his pioneering work with MAD magazine. Over 30 MAD covers are reproduced as well as the complete "SUPERDUPERMAN!" comic (from MAD #4, April 1953).

Kurtzman left MAD after disagreements with Gaines; and Chapter 4 covers the period in Kurtzman's life when he put out three other magazines: Trump, Humbug and Help! Two Trump covers, 14 Humbug covers, and 15 Help! covers are included as well as a complete 11 page cartoon called "The Grasshopper and the Ant" (from Esquire, May 1960) featuring a beatnik grasshopper and a workaholic ant.

Chapter 5 is mostly about Kurtzman's 25 years producing "Little Annie Fanny" comics for Playboy. A three page "Little Annie Fanny" origin story, which traces her life from a childhood in Al Capp's Dogpatch, through her growing up in "Peanuts" and "Little Orphan Annie," and ending with one-panel affairs with "Dick Tracy," "Beetle Bailey," and "Mandrake the Magician," appears here for the first time.
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