Ken Tucker
July 22, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Art of Harvey Kurtzman

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Paul Buhle, Denis Kitchen
publisher
Abrams
genre
Biography, Nonfiction

We gave it an A

The subtitle to Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle’s The Art of Harvey Kurtzman, ”The Mad Genius of Comics,” plays off artist-writer Kurtzman’s creation of MAD magazine, but it doesn’t work as a pun; there was nothing crazy about Kurtzman. Up until his death in 1993, he was a wily, witty man with an unequaled range. In addition to MAD, which introduced pop culture satire to a generation in the 1950s, he did war comics such as Frontline Combat and (with artist Will Elder) the sexy comic strip Little Annie Fanny. This gorgeous book, crammed with rare, elegant drawings, chronicles a man who, as Harry Shearer says in his intro, taught post-war America to laugh at popular culture and authority figures. A

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