I didn’t realize former suckster Joey Anuff was comicologist ’til I saw yesterday’s boing boing post about Joey’s Harvey Kurtzman collection. This warmed my heart and set a little fire in my eyeballs… I was a Harvey Kurtzman fan from the age of 7 or 8, when my brother wandered in with a ten cent comic book called Mad – actually “Tales Calculated to Drive You MAD.” Mad Magazine was a key cultural artifact in my world growing up… as was Kurtzman – we followed him to Humbug, then to Help Magazine, which was published by Jim Warren, who also published Famous Monsters of Filmland. How many young minds were destroyed and rebuilt by these guys? It was all pretty wonderful. He also created the great Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book, and (with Will Elder) Little Annie Fanny for Playboy Magazine. Now Joey is “the owner of approximately 40 lbs. of blue-chip comic book art” from the Kurtzman collection. He also points to an upcoming book, The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics The Amazon product description for that book tells you how important Kurtzman was and why you should know about him, if you didn’t already:
Harvey Kurtzman discovered Robert Crumb and gave Gloria Steinem her first job in publishing when he hired her as his assistant. Terry Gilliam also started at his side, met an unknown John Cleese in the process, and the genesis of Monty Python was formed. Art Spiegelman has stated on record that he owes his career to him. And he’s one of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner’s favorite artists.
Harvey Kurtzman had a Midas touch for talent, but was himself an astonishingly talented and influential artist, writer, editor, and satirist. The creator of MAD and Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny” was called, “One of the most important figures in postwar America” by the New York Times. Kurtzman’s groundbreaking “realistic” war comics of the early ’50s and various satirical publications (MAD, Trump, Humbug, and Help!) had an immense impact on popular culture, inspiring a generation of underground cartoonists. Without Kurtzman, it’s unlikely we’d have had Airplane, SNL, or National Lampoon.
The Art of Harvey Kurtzman is the first and only authorized celebration of this “Master of American Comics.” This definitive book includes hundreds of never-before-seen illustrations, paintings, pencil sketches, newly discovered lost E.C. Comics layouts, color compositions, illustrated correspondence, and vintage photos from the rich Kurtzman archives