Copyright © EC Comics
(Click pic to enlarge.)
Kurtzman's last regular editorial position of note was from 1962 to 1966 at the helm of Help!, printed by Warren Publishing. Leaning heavily on photography, Help! gave the first national exposure to several artists and writers who would dominate underground comix later on, such as Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Jay Lynch and Skip Williamson.
The most notorious article to appear in Help! was "Goodman Beaver Goes Playboy!," a ribald parody of Archie comics, that actually resulted in a lawsuit from Archie's publisher. Despite a talented roster of friends and contributors including Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Gloria Steinem and Gahan Wilson, along with the above names, the magazine folded after 26 issues.
The magazine had also provided a brief forum for John Cleese and Terry Gilliam, who first worked together under Kurtzman's direction, years before Monty Python. As a tribute, in his 1985 film Brazil, Gilliam gave Ian Holm's character, the boss of protagonist Sam Lowry, the name "Kurtzmann." A further tie between Kurtzman and the Python group was that Kurtzman's assistant editor at Help! - Charles Alverson - later collaborated with Gilliam on the screenplay for Jabberwocky (1977).
Meanwhile, Kurtzman's efforts on Little Annie Fanny, which in 1962 had begun its afore-mentioned 26-year run in Playboy, started out earning mixed reviews. Some admired it, yet felt it was "known more for its lavish production values than its humor."
He also co-scripted the stop-animation film Mad Monster Party, which was released in 1967. (One could call it a "haunting" ancestor of later computer-generated Pixar products. Even viewed these days, "Party" still holds up rather well.)
Kurtzman produced several animated shorts in 1972 for Sesame Street, and that same year he even appeared in a Scripto TV commercial, drawing Little Annie Fanny on the wall of a prison cell. A series of reprint projects and one-shot efforts appeared in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1988, when his naughty grownup parody of Little Orphan Annie "petered out" in Playboy, Kurtzman continued to work on anthologies and various other projects, as well as teaching a cartooning class at the School of Visual Arts.
That same year the annual Harvey Awards (named for Kurtzman, of course) were first given to the year's outstanding comics and creators.
In the years before his passing, Kurtzman returned to Mad for a brief stint, along with long-time collaborator Will Elder. (Their pages were simply signed "WEHK.") Kurtzman died of liver cancer at age 68 on February 21, 1993.
Kurtzman's critical reputation has outlasted his career peaks and valleys, and he is routinely celebrated for his visual verve. In addition, he is often cited as a key influence by many leading cartoonists.
In its much-critiqued 2000 list of the century's Top 100 comics, The Comics Journal magazine awarded Kurtzman five of the slots:
* 8. Mad comics by Harvey Kurtzman and various
* 12. EC's "New Trend" war comics by Harvey Kurtzman and various
* 26. The Jungle Book by Harvey Kurtzman
* 63. "Hey Look!" by Harvey Kurtzman
* 64. "Goodman Beaver" by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder
Gary Groth, the Journal's co-publisher, is effusive in describing Kurtzman's style: "[It] achieves some sort of Platonic ideal of cartooning. Harvey was a master of composition, tone and visual rhythm, both within the panel and among the panels comprising the page. He was also able to convey fragments of genuine humanity through an impressionistic technique that was fluid and supple.”
In 2009, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics, a comprehensive 256-page survey of Kurtzman's drawings, paintings, comic strips, graphic stories, comic books, magazines and paperbacks, was published by Abrams. Written by Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle, the book includes both preparatory work and finished pieces.
Kitchen said, “Too often, especially with the collaborative work, Kurtzman’s contribution is quite literally unseen. Harvey was masterful with compositions and the interaction of figures.
"Since he often worked with brilliant cartoonists like Will Elder, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Al Jaffee and others, it’s easy for a casual reader to assume they were responsible for the imagery and Harvey ‘just wrote’ or ‘just laid out’ the stories. By showing how complete and vigorous his layouts are, it’s much clearer that he was a true director of the finished work.”
Kurtzman was inducted into the comic book industry's Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1989. And along with Eisner, Jack Kirby, Robert Crumb, Chris Ware and Gary Panter , Kurtzman was among the artists honored in the exhibition "Masters of American Comics" at the Jewish Museum in Manhattan from September 16, 2006 to January 28, 2007.
The Art of Harvey Kurtzman:
The Mad Genius of Comics
By Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle (2009)
(Click pic to enlarge.)
IMDb On Kurtzman
It does not seek to Revile, Represent or Reap profit from the name of any celebrity and/or company after which it may be titled.
This site also cannot be seen as being confusingly similar to a sanctioned one, since we state that it is not authorized or
endorsed by any celebrity and/or company which may be used in said title. Furthermore, not being agents of said
entities, we ask that web visitors do not email this site in an effort to make contact with them or their estates.
(For further legal details, click here.)
Copyright © 2010 TPS
All Rights Reserved