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Archive for July 26th, 2010

Harvey Kurtzman knew funny. As a cartoonist he keenly deployed slapstick, parody and satire in ways that were not only hilarious, but groundbreaking as well. In addition, he was a gifted ringleader, someone who could harness the best talent from the grindhouse that was the comics industry at the time. With fellow artists, Will Elder, Jack Davis, Al Jaffe, Wally Wood and Arnold Roth. Kurtzman created some of the most innovative humor magazines of the last century: Mad, Humbug, Trump and Help! These artists were his bullpen, the cartoonists he went to again and again for various assignments over many years. Although, all of the latter magazines failed (except, of course, Mad) they were bold experiments indeed, their influence still felt today. Would there be a National Lampoon without Help!? Probably not.

Kurtzman also help “discover” countless other talented individuals, many of whom worked with him on his numerous publications over the years; Robert Crumb, Terry Gilliam and Gloria Steinem to name a few. Before they made a name for themselves they all worked under the tutelage of Kurtzman’s expert editorship. And there were still others, comedians and the like, who starred in his series of Fumentti stories for Help!; Woody Allen, John Cleese, Jackie Gleason and Henny Youngman.

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