Comic Art magazine #7 (2005)

This is another thing I picked up on my recent trip to LA. I bought it at Meltdown Comics, an absolutely fantastic comics shop in Hollywood. It’s an absolutely sumptuous magazine, with gorgeous color and fantastic articles. The main feature is two thoughtful articles about the great Harvey Kurtzman.
 
If you don’t know of Kurtzman, the man is literally a legend. He is best-known for being the creator and first editor of MAD magazine, an intensely hilarious and subversive magazine when it was first released in the 1950s. Kurtzman was also the editor of Frontline Combat and Two-Fisted Tales, perhaps the finest war comics of all time, but it’s MAD that he is best known for. Unfortunately, Kurtzman never really was able to share in the success of MAD; he left the magazine soon after it converted from comic size to magazine size due to a dispute with publisher William Gaines. After the dispute, Kurtzman created two short-lived humor magazines, Trump and Humbug, and the somewhat longer-lived Help!. Help! survived into the late 1960s, featuring early work by such luminaries as R. Crumb and Skip Williamson, as well as featuring work by future Monty Python member John Cleese. Finally, Kurtzman was recruited by Hugh Hefner to create the "Little Annie Fanny" strip for Playboy. That strip gave Kurtzman a good livelihood that lasted pretty much up till his death.
 
The first piece in Comic Art is an insightful piece about Kurtzman’s life between Humbug and Help!  by his longtime editor Dennis Kitchen. Kitchen does a fine job of describing Kurtzman’s intense frustration with finding and keeping good freelance work, along with some wonderful examples of Kurtzman’s wonderful art. It was fascinating reading about how tough life was for such a great creator. There really ain’t no justice.
 
Kurtzman was also a real tinkerer, and the second article details his obsession with the bizarre shape the hexaflagon. Just the description and art from this odd creation is worth the cover price of this magazine.
 
There are several other nice pieces in this magazine. There’s a wonderful piece about the Dutch underground comics of the 1960s, another on obscure comic strips, and a fascinating article about Dan Clowes’s great comic David Boring. But the other real highlight of the issue is a travelogue/autobiography by cartoonist David Collier. It’s interesting and entertaining, and made me more interesting in Collier’s comics.
 
This magazine is a real treat for anyone with a diverse love of comics.
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