(The cover; my feet, a KISS matrioshke, and spring-loaded gag eyeballs included for scale)
IDW's Artist's Edition series is a line of enormous (15" x 22") hardcover art-books that reproduce the full-page, camera-ready paste-ups used to create classic comics, from Groo to Spider-Man, offering a rare look at the white-outs, annotations, corrections, and pencil-marks that give tantalizing hints about the hidden workings of these amazing pages.
A recent and most welcome addition to the series is MAD: Artist's Edition, a spectacular tribute to the early years of the magazine and especially to the brilliant satire of Harvey Kurtzman, one of the great heroes of satire, which features an introduction by Terry Gilliam himself.
MAD: Artist's Edition isn't just an amazing book, it's an amazing object, a massive and weighty presence that drew me magnetically to it as soon as I got it back to my office. I spent the next several hours on a rug on the floor with it, clambering all around it (it's much easier to move yourself than a book this size!), marvelling and delighting at it. I snapped a few highlights (full-rez photos here) to give you a sense of what's going on here.
(Love, Kurtzman style -- from Shadow!)
Let's start with the obvious: Kurtzman was a genius of parody, with a wolvertonian grasp of the grotesque and a sense of humor that was capable of expressing itself in both broad and subtle strokes. This was a man who could capture both drama and comedy, as in this sequence from Smilin' Melvin', where the punchline is just a lagniappe on top of a sequence that is as illustrative as it is absurd:
(Q-Tips and the sound-barrier, from Smilin' Melvin')
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