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Will Elder: The Mad Playboy of Art h/c Hardcover – February 4, 2004

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Although writer Harvey Kurtzman was the auteur of the early 1950s Mad, artist Elder set the visual approach of the groundbreaking, irreverently satiric comic book. When Kurtzman acrimoniously left Mad, Elder followed him to a string of less renowned but equally pointed humor magazines. In 1962 the pair began collaborating on the lushly painted Little Annie Fanny strip, which ran in Playboy for 25 years. Elder's trademark was the minutiae he crammed into every corner of his panels--throwaway background gags that he referred to as "chicken fat." The key to his success as a parodist was his uncanny ability to ape other artists' styles while infusing his renditions with his distinctive humor; his style, in a sense, was his lack of style. This massive collection features a lengthy biographical essay and strips from throughout Elder's lengthy career, including pre-Mad work, Fanny stories, magazine illustrations, advertisements, and celebrity caricatures. An overdue tribute to an artist who deserves greater recognition for his contributions to comics and to American humor. Gordon Flagg
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Review

He could have been the world's greatest forger, he has such an eye for color matching and detail. -- Al Jaffee, MAD artist

Will Elder is the funniest artist MAD ever had, just pure mayhem. -- William Gaines, publisher of MAD --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books; F Limited Edition Collectible edition (February 4, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560976039
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560976035
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 9.5 x 13.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,134,208 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Joe, The on January 22, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was introduced to Bill (or Will, if you prefer) Elder in the early 1950's when I discovered MAD the comic. I had been a fan of Sunday color comics and Superman/Batman as a kid but the comic art of Bill (that's how he signed his work in MAD) Elder
was so stunningly exceptional it was an instant hit with me and my friends. I especially liked all the "extra gags" hidden around the panels that made reading his stories take just a little longer. And made re-reading a must. I followed Mr. Elder through MAD, Humbug, Trump, HELP! and finally Playboy. Collecting his other contributions to popular magazines, his "Hateful Thoughts" collection and covers whenever I saw one. His work is so distinctive in it's clean clear sometimes photographic images, yet so diversified with his ability to mimic other artist's styles. You can be fooled into thinking you're really reading a L'il Abner story until you catch his signature on the splash panel. I am delighted that there is so much here in this book from the full length of his career, but I would really hope that there is a volume 2 that picks up the missing pieces from Goodman Beaver and a few others. MAD has been reprinted as has Little Annie Fannie. We need the complete Elder to enjoy over and over for years to come. Complimenting the fantastic art is the narrative highlighting Elder's life and other achievements. This marvelous book will be a welcome addition to anyone's bookshelf. Especially if you have a funny bone.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Philip S. Wolf on February 12, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Will Elder, as you know was one of the original EC Comics artists. Along with Harvey Kurtzman he was a part of the first 25 issues of Mad Magazine.
His amazing art helped to define just what Mad magazine was all about. To put it in words, this man went plumb-loco, and just about created lampoon art all on his own.

This big lavish 392 page book is the document of Will's life and his art. Over 100 pages of his comic art is reproduced here, and this material is a feast for the eyes, for anyone who enjoys comics and good humor.

Besides Mad, Will's work from many other publications are featured here as well. The humor magazines: Panic, Trump, Humbug, Help! and Pageant are all represented with lot's of his work not seen in decades. The 'Liitle Annie Fanny" and "Goodman Beaver" Stories {teaming with Harvey Kurtzman, again} are here in bulk as well.

Paintings, portraits, still lifes, stetches and drawings from Will's personal files show another side of his talents.

This book is one of the very best that I have come across on the subject of a comics artist...{and I have seen a few!}. It is a massive volume about an American original...The one and only...Villie Elder !!!
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Chris Ward VINE VOICE on March 6, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just buy this already-- here's a book with great production values that features one of the great artists (of any kind!) of the 20th century, Villy Elder. "Genius" it says-- and for once it's fully justified. Comic genius, artistic genius, wiseass genius: Elder is the real thing.
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