The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics (Anglais) Relié – 1 juillet 2009
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Une sorte de Gainsbourg pour le comics !
C'est mieux de comprendre l'anglais écrit '
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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.
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.
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. Also reproduced is the Little Annie Fanny "Americans in Paris" (from Playboy, August 1967) and two cartoons on Dracula and Women that he did for French alternative comics.
This book, with its cartoonist-at-work sketches, roughs and thumbnails, will appeal especially to readers interested in Kurtzman's creative process. It may not be the best introduction to Kurtzman, but its finished pieces will provide enough for someone new to Kurtzman to grasp the importance of the man to the 20th century comics industry.
Is it? Well, it's certainly impressive. The Art of Harvey Kurtzman, the Mad Genius of Comics, boasts original artwork from the Master's archives, plus a great deal of rare, unpublished material, all of it spanning his entire career, thus bringing you closer than ever before to Harvey Kurtzman's creative process.
That's exciting in and of itself, and there's abundant reminder here of just how effective and amusing Harvey was when relying on his own drawing for a project (He tended for a good chunk of his career to just do layouts for other artists to follow); he had a very expressive, elongated style, deceptively simple and always captivating.
The one downside is that, unlike Greg Sadowski's book on Kurtzman, there is very little commentary from the man himself, but, hey, this is quite specifically an art book, after all.
We do get a useful reminder of what a benevolent boss Harvey was, helping give young Robert Crumb and Woody Allen some valuable space in the page of his HELP! Magazine, or giving his blessing to young Terry Gilliam when the artist wanted to do a photo shoot with the uniquely photogenic John Cleese (thus creating, quite by accident, the epicentre of what would become Monty Python!).
And besides, anything that includes a special section showing the painstaking layer-technique Kurtzman and colleague Will Elder used when creating Playboy's Little Annie Fanny is pretty spectacular.
Speaking of the spectacular, but chronically misunderstood, Miss Fanny, I was annoyed at that section of Harry Shearer's introduction to this book that implied that Kurtzman's tenure on "Fannie" (sic) was an embarrassment borne out of desperation.
Nonsense. As cartoon art, Annie Fanny was one of Kurtzman and Elder's finest achievements, indeed they often used an Annie Fanny sample to help get them advertising work. Like it or not, the so-called controversial pages of Playboy in fact kept them in the mainstream, just as it did Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Ian Fleming, Raymond Benson... What were they, hacks?? Of course not.
There's also a previously untold story; the role Adele Kurtzman played in her husband Harvey's career...but I won't spoil it by revealing that here; it's just too good a story, sorry!
So, although I personally would've liked more biographical detail, giving The Art of Harvey Kurtzman less than 5 stars would undermine the hard work Kitchen and co-author Paul Buhle have put into it. That wouldn't be fair, as this is as immaculate a comic art book as you could wish. Really fascinating and lovely. (Even the cover is priceless - capturing beautifully Harvey's self-effacing wackiness!) I wouldn't say this is for the casual fan or even for those looking for more of a biography, so let us keep the five stars because I do love it and it is, without a doubt, excellent, so, let us say this is for completists.