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In the jungle with Kurtzman

Cover of 'Jungle Book' by Harvey Kurtzman

On Saturday morning my copy of Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle Book (the original Ballantine first edition) arrived in the post – and if there’s a better way to start your weekend, I’d like to hear about it. I bought this from Mr Jeffrey A. Goodman of West Portal Books in sunny San Franscisco (via Abe Books) who has to be one of the few Americans to have heard of Norwich (an amazing feat as half of England havn’t heard of it) and who packaged the book so carefully and lovingly that I couldn’t have been more impressed unless he’d personally hand delivered it.

Kurtzman was one of the greatest comic artists and creators of the 20th Century. He is most famous for creating Mad, a magazine so ground breaking it not only spawned a host of imitators, but created a style of humour that influenced Saturday Night Live, Monty Python and Naked Gun. I have a very high Kurtzman fever at the moment, brought about by my purchase of Denis Kitchen’s and Paul Buhle’s excellent new book The Art of Harvey Kurtzman. This book covers the entire Kurtzman canon and includes never-before-seen art – it has also re-shot lots of the original art ensuring beautiful, crisp reproductions of Kurtzman’s work. And what work! It’s all here – from ‘Hey Look!’ to ‘Little Annie Fanny’ along with archive photo’s giving the reader a complete picture of Kurtzman himself, his times and his working practices.

I am, even now, saving my pennies to buy as much Kurtzman stuff as I can lay my hands on. Jungle Book was just the start – hoo-hah!! Ahem… mind you it is getting near Christmas and I will have to wait until the new year to add to my Kurtzman collection.

(PS. That last sentence was for my wife’s benefit).

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Comments (2)

Mark Wild said on Oct 19, 12:55 pm:

Very jealous of your Kurtzman book. Looks great. I have got a Comics Journal Library special on him which has lots of interviews and large scale illustrations. It’s still available on Amazon I think or somewhere like Gosh! There is also a two volume edition of the complete Humbug which should be sticking out of all our stockings this Christmas(XXL size)!

Steve Kirkendall said on Oct 19, 02:46 pm:

I have got a massive list of Kurtzman stuff both in my Amazon shopping basket AND my Abe Books basket too! The Ballantine Jungle Book is a bit fragile for regular reading, so I’m planning on getting the Kitchen Sink reprint (hardcover, better paper) so I can read it without damaging my Ballantine edition. Extravagant, I know, but hey, that’s me! And yes, I saw that Humbug thing in Gosh! last month and that is firmly in my sights. In the meantime, I can really recommend ‘The Art of Harvey Kurtzman’ – you won’t be disappointed.

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