MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman's influence extended far beyond his famous comic book. He was also the discoverer, mentor, and inspiration to a large number of brilliant artists, filmmakers, comedians, and artists.
Here's biographical snippet from the dust jacket of the new book The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics:
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 above is no exaggeration. if you want to know the roots of modern American comedy, you need to study Kurtzman. In addition to his comedic genius, Kurtzman was also a tremendously gifted visual artist as well. This book, written by comic books historians Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle, showcases hundreds of examples of Kurtzman's work throughout his career, including many never-before-seen examples of his earlier comics and art school figure studies and landscapes. It's especially interesting to see his conceptual sketches for magazine covers and comic book stories, which show Kurtzman's powerful command of composition and art direction.
This is a book worth consulting and treasuring for a lifetime.
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