COLLECTIVE THOUGHTS FOR OCTOBER 2014 PART 2: NEWSPAPER STRIP COLLECTIONS AND MORE

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson.

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson.


by KC Carlson

SPAWN OF MAD

Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book (Essential Kurtzman Volume 1)

Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book (Essential Kurtzman Volume 1)


Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book (Essential Kurtzman Volume 1) (Dark Horse): This is awesome! Out of print for 25 years, this much-admired book (#26 on The Comics Journal’s Top 100 Comics List) is not only available again (in December), but following along behind it will be many more out-of-print classics by Harvey Kurtzman (the guy the Harvey Awards are named after) in Dark Horse’s new Essential Kurtzman line of graphic novels and collections.

Help

Help


Who’s Harvey Kurtzman? Ask folks like Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, John Holmstrom, and Denis Kitchen (frequent editor and/or publisher of this and other Kurtzman projects) since Kurtzman’s work is frequently cited as a major influence on the underground comix movement. Terry Gilliam’s early work was published by Kurtzman (in Help!), and Kurtzman is name-checked in Gilliam’s film Brazil (as Kurtzmann). One of Art Spiegelman’s early works would have been published in Help!, if it only lasted one issue longer, as Spiegelman explains in his (handwritten!) irreverent introduction to Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book (carried forward from the long-out-of print 1986 edition).

What’s Harvey Kurtzman done that you might have read?

He invented MAD.

(I’ll let that sink in.)

Mad #1

Mad #1


He invented MAD, editing (as well as frequently writing and occasionally illustrating stories for) the first 28 issues of MAD — the entire four-color EC Comics series, as well as the earliest of the B&W magazine format. Then, after a falling out with publisher William M. Gaines, Kurtzman edited a series of mostly unsuccessful but incredibly influential humor magazines including Trump, Humbug, and Help! Eventually, he developed the popular and long-running “Little Annie Fanny” series for Playboy with longtime artist/partner Will Elder, beginning in 1962.

Mad Monster Party

Mad Monster Party


My two favorite “odd” credits for Kurtzman include him co-screenwriting the very funny stop-motion animated Mad Monster Party? film in 1967 and directing, writing, and designing several shorts for Sesame Street in 1969.

Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book largely came about because the very popular MAD mass-market paperback reprints (Self-Made MAD, Portable MAD, etc.) switched publishers from Ballantine Books to Signet. Looking for a suitable replacement, Ballantine starting reprinting material from Humbug and in 1959 struck a deal with Kurtzman to produce a collection of all-new comic stories. This became Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book, thought to be the first paperback book consisting of entirely original art.

Four stories, written and drawn by Kurtzman (one of the rare instances he worked without collaborators) are included in the book, all based on popular works and ideas of the era. “Thelonius Violence, Like Private Eye” parodies detective TV shows of the era, specifically Peter Gunn and its memorable theme music by Henry Mancini. “The Organization Man in the Gray Flannel Executive Suit” features an early version of Kurtzman’s character Goodman Beaver (redesigned in later appearances) in a parody of magazine publishing of the era. The publisher in this story is loosely based on Timely (Marvel) publisher Martin Goodman, whom Kurtzman knew from his early work at Timely (notably his Hey Look! one-pagers).

The cover to the original printing of Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book.

The cover to the original printing of Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book.


“Compulsion on the Range” combines TV Westerns (like Gunsmoke, featuring Marshall Matt Dillon) and Freudian pop psychology. It was the first story produced for the project, and it looks slightly different than the other stories, as Kurtzman hadn’t yet completely defined his style for the book. “Decadence Degenerated” was an allegorical story inspired by works set in the South by writers like Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner, as well as Kurtzman’s own memories of Paris, Texas, where he was stationed during WWII.

That first 1959 version was very poorly printed, with the blue-lines from the artboards somehow surviving the printing process to the printed page. In his introduction, Spiegelman described the first edition he owned as “more like a murkily printed newsprint portfolio.” The glue binding quickly disintegrated, and Spiegelman stored the loose pages in a plastic bag like “a sacred text.” The 1986 Kitchen Sink version features much improved production, with all but six pages and the cover shot from the original artwork and at the size of the original artwork. And in hardcover. The 2014 Dark Horse version follows suit — with same format (although a brand-new cover design), same improved reproduction, plus these new extras: an introduction by Gilbert Shelton, an essay by Denis Kitchen, and a conversational afterward by Pete Poplaski and Robert Crumb! Amazingly, even after 28 years of inflation, Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book is published at the same price as the 1986 edition! (Actually, one penny less!) 176-page color 6.5” x 11” hardcover. Available in December.

Mad’s Greatest Artists: Don Martin: Three Decades of his Greatest Works

Mad’s Greatest Artists: Don Martin: Three Decades of his Greatest Works


Mad’s Greatest Artists: Don Martin: Three Decades of his Greatest Works (Running Press): BLOBBLE! TWONG! NNYEEOWNNT! PADAP PADAP PADAP, KADOONK! FURSH GLURGLE GLUG GLUG GLUG! FWAPADA DAPADA FWAPADA DAPADA! SWIZZAK! VOOMAROOMA! OOOKK! AWK! ING DING DING DING DIN! FLOOF!

If you’re a Don Martin fan, you already know what that all meant. The rest of you will just have to get this incredible must-have collection of the work the Floonk-miester (better known as “MAD’s Maddest Artist”) produced in his 32 years (1956-1988) at MAD Magazine. Plus, essays by other MAD contributors (including Mort Drucker and Dick DeBartolo) discuss his life and influence on people like The Far Side’s Gary Larson, who contributes an introduction. This book is highly RUMBOOM-BLOOMA DOOM BOOMA-ROOMBA! (aka Recommended. You really should learn a second language!) 272-page color 9” x 12” hardcover. Available in November.

THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS

Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Vol. 2: 1968-69

Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Vol. 2: 1968-69


Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Vol. 2: 1968-69 (DC Comics/IDW/LoAC): Collecting all daily and Sunday strips from January 1, 1968, through May 31, 1969, by Whitney Ellsworth, Al Plastino, and Joe Giella. There’s atomic time bombs and the double dealings of Madame Zodiac (not to mention the redoubtable Blue Max) for the Dynamic Duo to deal with! Can even the able assistance of both Superman and Aquaman save the day? The answers to these questions — and many more — are in this breathtaking Bat-Volume! 256-page B&W (w/color) 11” x 8.5” hardcover. Available in November.


Modesty Blaise Volume 25: The Grim Joker (Titan Books): As dangerous as she is desirable, Modesty Blaise, the cult creation of best-selling writer Peter O’Donnell, returns for three more devastating adventures. Features three classic stories from 1992-1994: “The Grim Joker”, “A Present for the Princess”, and “Black Queen’s Pawn”, written by Peter O’Donnell and beautifully illustrated by Enrique Badia Romero. 104-page B&W 9” x 12” softcover. Available in October.

The Complete Peanuts 1993-1994

The Complete Peanuts 1993-1994


The Complete Peanuts 1993-1994 (Fantagraphics): Seeming impossibilities abound in this 22nd (of 25) volume of Charles M. Schulz’s astounding comic strip. Charlie Brown hits a home run! Linus lobbies the White House to get Snoopy on the Supreme Court! (Hope I’m not giving anything away by revealing that Ruth Bader Ginsburg got the seat.) Woodstock discovers his long-lost grandfather’s diary (birds can write?), Snoopy gets pneumonia and is hospitalized, and the gang waits… and waits… for a school bus that never comes. Schulz broke a lot of rules in his final decade of the strip, and much of that work is on display here. 344-page B&W 8.5” x 7” hardcover. Available in September.

The Phantom: The Complete Dailies Volume 2 (1937-1939)

The Phantom: The Complete Dailies Volume 2 (1937-1939)


The Phantom: The Complete Dailies Volume 2 (1937-1939) and Volume 3 (1939-1940) (Second Editions) (Hermes Press): Back in Print! Volume 2 has six complete storylines and Volume 3 has four by Lee Falk and artist Ray Moore. Each volume is a 272-page 9” x 12” B&W hardcover. Also, Hermes is debuting a new six-part The Phantom comic book series, set in the late 1940s, this month, written by Peter David with art by Sal Velluto, featuring four different covers for the first issue.

Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London Volume Two: 1989-1992

Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London Volume Two: 1989-1992


Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London Volume Two: 1989-1992 (IDW/LoAC): And they mean complete! Included in this volume is London’s final storyline that was pulled by King Features Syndicate over what they perceived as a storyline that was an allegory about abortion. (Mostly it’s about a mechanical doll.) These final three weeks of the storyline will finally be published here along with an additional six weeks of never-before-seen strips beyond those that were pulled from syndication! And we’re being told that they are worth the wait. 340-page B&W 8.5” x 7.5” hardcover. Available in November.

ARTIST’S EDITIONS

Frank Miller’s Ronin: Gallery Edition

Frank Miller’s Ronin: Gallery Edition


Frank Miller’s Ronin: Gallery Edition (DC Comics/Graphitti): This may be the largest Gallery/Artist book yet! This includes ALL the artwork, covers, and gatefolds from Frank Miller’s groundbreaking stepping-stone between Daredevil and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, from 1983-84. Over 300 pages of original artwork (scanned in color and published at the original size) on heavy paper stock and presented in a high-quality Smythe-sewn hardcover book. It’s the best thing to holding the original artwork in your hands. (Something that not many people ever get to do!) 328-page oversize (13” x 20”) B&W hardcover. Available in December.

Joe Kubert’s Enemy Ace: Artist Edition

Joe Kubert’s Enemy Ace: Artist Edition


Joe Kubert’s Enemy Ace: Artist Edition (IDW): Joe Kubert’s back for his third Artist Edition (after Tor and Tarzan), this time with one of his biggest fan-faves: Enemy Ace! Five complete issues of Star Spangled War Stories (#139, 140, 141, 142, and 144, as well as covers and promo work) are compiled here — all scanned directly from the original art. Created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert in 1968 as an alternate take on the highly successful war-based comics, Enemy Ace introduced a hero that by all superficial definitions was a villain. A high-flying pilot for the Germans, Hans von Hammer was a star soldier but morally conflicted by the duties that his role demanded. This was one of the most beloved war series ever created for comic books! Also features work by Neal Adams (penciller of #144) and Russ Heath — how often do you see those names in supporting roles? 216-page oversize (12” x 17”) B&W (but scanned in color) hardcover. Available in November.

AND… THINGS THAT DIDN’T FIT…

Frazetta Sketchbook II

Frazetta Sketchbook II


Frazetta Sketchbook II (Vanguard): Last year’s collection was quite popular, so here’s a second helping of classic and unseen material, including rare Conan, Tarzan, EC Comics, and Death Dealer material and more. Vanguard is the exclusive, authorized publisher of Frank Frazetta books. 160-page 8.5” x 11” color softcover .

The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow

The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow


Also, keep an eye out for Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow. Based on a never-produced TV special written by Jim Henson and Jerry Juhl, this book is being adapted by Roger Langridge (script and art) and published as a hardcover by Archaia in November.  Roger Ash is interviewing Langridge soon for the Westfield blog, so keep an eye out for that!

______________________________

KC CARLSON SEZ: Please don’t actually remove your eye! I need to to say things more carefully. I’m still dealing with the fallout from my “Will somebody please send (NAME REMOVED BY LAWYERS) a brain!” comment from last year. Sheesh! People take things sooo seriously…

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.

 

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