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MAD Magazine: Eclipsed by Madness?

MAD Magazine: Eclipsed by Madness?

Final yr we advised a coworker that the transfer to L.A. wouldn’t work: Perhaps the Dodgers and Giants might stand up to relocation to that tainted lotus land that’s California, however Mad journal was just too much of a New Yorker to seek out harmony amid the perfected individuals. With the announcement that Mad will any longer function principally reprints, the post-war generations who had their bullshit detectors tripped for the first time by the journal’s parodies of popular culture, politicians, clergymen, and other purveyors of doubtful guarantees are left with solely countless permutations of Alfred E. Neuman. The primary painted portrait of the magazine’s gap-toothed mascot appeared on the duvet of the December 1956 problem as a write-in candidate for president. Who knew that 60 years later we would wish Alfred’s candidacy more than ever.

Here on the Voice archives we love previous newsprint, and so have dug into our own yellowing volumes to seek out a downtown tackle that “typical gang of idiots” who as soon as toiled away on MADison Avenue. In 1989, culture critic Geoffrey O’Brien reviewed a set of the four-color Mad comedian books, printed from 1952 until 1955, after which the publication was reworked right into a wildly profitable black-and-white journal. By 1973, gross sales of particular person points had passed the two,000,000-copy mark.

The early Mad comedian guide was sui generis partly as a result of, as O’Brien observes under, “In 1952 American tradition was a parody ready to occur.” That perception, from three many years ago, sounds quaint in our personal age, when the artists and writers of Mad can not compete with the insanity of actuality. —R.C. Baker

Stark Raving ‘Mad’: Harvey Kurtzman’s Snort Riot

By Geoffrey O’Brien
October 10, 1989

We reside in unusual days: within a floodlit mausoleum of show business, the hours are measured by the anniversaries of music fes­tivals and movie premieres, by the start of Mickey Mouse and the demise of Elvis. All that was as soon as disposable is frozen into monumentality — and within the age of mechan­ical copy that makes for extra mon­uments than even the previous century had to deal with. One may properly marvel how we received here. A serious piece of the story may be present in The Complete Mad: itself a monument however a welcome one, 12 pounds of budding media awareness, a guided tour of early ’50s image glut carried out in a mood far removed from in the present day’s mournful nostalgia.

Who would have imagined, when Mad began publication in October 1952, that 37 years later we might have its first 23 issues preserved for us on this boxed, hardbound, full-color facsimile, annotated with Talmu­dic devotion? Definitely not Mad’s creator, Harvey Kurtzman, or the extraordinary artists who helped understand his imaginative and prescient of American popular culture; it might have been an altogether totally different magazine if that they had. “We have been working by the seat of our pants,” Kurtzman remarks in an interview in The Complete Mad. “I didn’t actually know what the hell I used to be doing. All I used to be doing was ‘humorous.’ Humorous. Gotta make it humorous, gotta make me snigger, gotta tickle myself.” The out-of-control issues that occurred in the pages of the early Mad have been of the type that happen when individuals are not erecting monuments. “Once you’re determined to fill area, you think of outrageous things.”

Mad was engaged in an elaborate practi­cal joke at the expense of the obtainable cul­ture, overlaying billboards and movie posters and cartoon pages with graffiti that have been extra entertaining than what they de­confronted. Right now’s Mad — the black-and-white journal which has rigorously replicated the identical formulation for the past 30 years — is so much part of the landscape that it is arduous to re-create the influence of Kurtzman’s origi­nal colour comic-book version. Without ven­turing into obscenity, blasphemy, or revolu­tionary sloganeering, it managed to anticipate all of the assaults on public style that have been to comply with. (Kurtzman himself left Mad in 1956, following a dispute over finan­cial management, and was changed by Al Feld­stein; the magazine was by no means fairly the identical, and Kurtzman’s personal later ventures, though typically sensible, never achieved such reputation.)

On this boxed type Mad stands revealed as an ideal postmodern epic, decentered, multi-referential, inextricable from the par­ticulars of its place and time. To learn it adequately we might in principle should re­create its unique circumstances, watch the same tv exhibits, take heed to the identical jukeboxes (for a hundredth refrain of “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window”), scan the identical comedian strips. Intertextuality can go no additional. Mad’s guideline was spillover: the TV packages on neigh­boring channels blended, the separate com­ic strips on a web page began speaking among themselves. Every part obtained thrown into the soup. No figure was allowed to dominate an area for long: the foreground  motion was perpetually being upstaged by clus­ters of microscopic idiots grimacing or wav­ing absurd placards, like bystanders grin­ning on the digital camera on TV news. It was an aesthetic of interruption and intrusion. Mad’s panels retained the classicism of tra­ditional comics solely to topic it to re­morseless pummeling. The foursquare frame continued, with Superduperman poised heroically in its middle, however the partitions and flooring might be seen collapsing throughout him.

In 1952 American culture was a parody waiting to occur. It was an period of oddly unconscious abeyance and dereliction. Not lengthy before, fashionable artwork had gone via a collection of kind of concurrent Golden Ages: of the films, of jazz and the large bands, of radio, of the pulps and the comics. However a sluggish unraveling had begun. The types that had seen the nation via melancholy and world warfare seemed to have misplaced the easy confidence that had given them the air of a nationwide faith, a precar­ious unity of spirit encompassing swing rec­ords, Jack Benny, and Terry and the Pirates.

The postwar period’s most sensible man­ifestations — bebop, film noir — have been already marginal. At middle stage a warped stiffness appeared to have taken over. The Pink Scare generated such films as My Son John, I Was a Communist for the FBI, and Purple Planet Mars, gibbering studies in deception and religiosity whose each body seemed grotesquely off-key. The bestseller listing al­ternated between billowing clouds of spiri­tual comfort (The Silver Chalice, The Gown of Glory, A Man Referred to as Peter, The Energy of Constructive Considering, This I Consider) and the sustained paranoid outbursts of Mickey Spillane’s Kiss Me Lethal. Television was exemplified by variety and quiz exhibits of trancelike somnolence (The Arthur Murray Show, Arthur Godfrey’s Expertise Scouts, I’ve Obtained a Secret, You Asked for It) and trans­planted radio serials like Gangbusters and The Lone Ranger. As for Hollywood, it of­fered little beyond Martin and Lewis, Ab­bott and Costello, the determined grandiosity of Three-D and Cinerama, and, for the Saturday afternoon crowd, cheapo adventure flicks like Son of Ali Baba and The Battle at Apache Move. The comedian strips, in the meantime, endured without change, as Skeezix, Dick Tracy, and Orphan Annie lived on in a world the place no one ever acquired older.

In that strange period before the dawn of media self-consciousness, proof of males­tal fatigue was in all places. Humor consist­ed of Jack Benny and Bob Hope recycling their previous routines or Donald O’Connor locked in dialog with a speaking mule. The actual humor, nevertheless, was in all the locations it wasn’t alleged to be: in the lurid solemnity of movie posters, in the sancti­monious hucksterism of advertising, within the unquestioned formulas that ruled com­ic-book plots. Plainly individuals had gotten so used to grinding the stuff out that it had been some time since anybody truly checked out it.

Mad was like the lone giggle that subverts a hitherto respectful viewers into uncon­trolled laughter. Properly, not precisely lone. The Warner Brothers cartoonists had created a parodistic parallel world all through the ’40s, and since 1950 Sid Caesar and Imo­gene Coca had been broadcasting Your Present of Exhibits, to be joined in 1952 by The Ernie Kovacs Present and Steve Allen on To­night time. More remotely, there was the linger­ing influence of the Marx Brothers and of S. J. Perelman’s fantasias on the themes of pulp fiction and promoting. Earlier than long Stan Freberg would deliver one other medium into the picture with recorded parodies like St. George and the Dragonet and an echo­ridden Heartbreak Lodge. None of those might prime Mad’s secret weapon: its explo­sive visible presence. You won’t find it humorous, but you couldn’t take your eyes off it; its graphics modified the tone of a room just by being there.

By adopting the type of a comic book ebook, Mad had the benefit of surprise; like a sniper firing from an unsuspected place. Comedian books till then had fed the identical materials time and again to an viewers limit­ed in age and influence, not often reaching anybody outdoors that audience apart from crusading congressmen, psychologists, and clergymen. No comics have been extra focused than those of Mad’s mother or father company, EC (Instructional Comics), creator of probably the most morbidly specific horror tales, probably the most in­ventively apocalyptic science fiction, and probably the most harrowing and socially acutely aware crime stories, all of them written and edited by the sensible and astonishingly prolific Al Feldstein. When Harvey Kurtzman joined EC, he had the advantage of working with a employees that had already mastered the sharp and savage techniques of The Vault of Horror and Shock SuspenStories.

Kurtzman, a Brooklyn-born journeyman gag cartoonist in his late twenties, was re­markable for his combined mastery of writ­ing and drawing. A perfectionist in matters of detail, he habitually sketched out each story body by frame, allowing artists small leeway in deciphering his layouts. Initially he edited a pair of warfare comics, Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Fight, notable for his or her sober restraint and morally critical tone in distinction to EC’s regular sardonic Grand Guignol. The Civil Struggle points (re­printed as a part of Russ Cochran’s EC Clas­sics collection) show an eye fixed obsessed with fusing swarms of historical element into impeccably harmonious sequences of frames; if Kurtzman had not been an awesome humorist he might clearly have been a fantastic propagandist. The distinctive types of his artists (Wallace Wood, Will Elder, Jack Da­vis, John Severin) are, though nonetheless appar­ent, rigorously held in verify. Kurtzman’s directorial management of his comics’ general look was unchallenged although typically resented.

Mad started routinely sufficient, with farci­cal variations on commonplace comic-book plots, hit its stride with the “Superduper­man” and “Shadow” options within the fourth situation, and grew steadily more experimental so long as it was beneath Kurtzman’s editor­ship. In the meantime it turned a hit of cultlike intensity, trailed by a pack of imitations — together with EC’s own Panic, which featured the same artists as Mad but underneath the steerage of Al Feldstein. Judging from the issues reprinted by Cochran, Pan­ic had a rougher edge than Mad; the vio­lence in its Mike Hammer and This Is Your Life takeoffs is nearly on a par with one among Feldstein’s horror comics. There’s not a trace, nevertheless, of Kurtzman’s aptitude for fan­tasy and pure nonsense, or of his capability for bending the comedian ebook type into unex­pected shapes.

Kurtzman didn’t should invent his hu­mor, it was already there. “I was all the time stunned at how individuals dwelling and dealing elsewhere across the metropolis can be considering the identical factor. We have been a product of our Jewish backgrounds in New York; we have been in the same city dwelling in several boroughs, yet we have been having the identical ex­periences. It was weird that at Music and Art in the lunch room we’d keep it up and do our satire parodies . . . I keep in mind specifi­cally sitting round in the lunch room doing the ‘working scene,’ or higher still, doing the ‘airplane scene,’ the German ace taking place within the Fokker in flames . . . You’d see a film, and you’d make enjoyable of it, and 20 different guys who saw the same movie, and who had the same type of Jewish path of considering would provide you with the same scene.”

Nevertheless familiar its tone was on the streets of Manhattan or Brooklyn, for many of its readers Mad was a new noise: noise about noise, concerning the noise that had been happening in each form of public entertain­ment and knowledge but had never been labeled, an encyclopedia of what had been bombarding individuals’s eyes and ears. Reading Mad was like watching a documentary about how it felt to be on the receiving finish of all the things that had not but been named the media. To youngsters rising up within the ’50s, Mad offered the reassurance that another person was watching, another person had seen what it seemed like. The precise content of its satire was not as essential as the straightforward acknowledgement that we have been all soaked in mass-produced phrases and pictures.

Whether or not parodying comic strips (Prince Violent, Manduck the Magician), films (From Eternity Again to Right here, Beneath the Waterfront), or TV exhibits (The Lone Stranger, Howdy Dooit), Kurtzman reiter­ated a single level: simply because these things was in all places didn’t imply it was real or normal. He obtained off on the sheer oddness of, for example, cartoon conventions: that Mickey Mouse wore white gloves or that the characters in Gasoline Alley aged at drastically totally different charges. For a ’50s baby, who in contrast to Kurtzman and firm had not been reading the same comics because the ’30s, probably the most anachronistic facet of Mad was its loving assault on the funny papers. By 1954 who knew or cared about Smilin’ Jack, Gasoline Alley, Mandrake the Magi­cian, and even Flash Gordon or Little Orphan Annie? For Mad’s makers, nevertheless, this was house base, the basis of their aesthetic schooling.

Tv was a more alien presence for them; it’s fascinating to see how they ren­der the precise retinal influence of the TV image, full with wavering horizontal strains, reception issues, and the check pat­terns that continued before and after the exhibits. Mad’s TV parodies virtually invari­ably ran in black-and-white, because that denoted tv: TV was still visible as something different, a rackety and ugly intrusion.

When all else failed, Mad relied on a rep­ertoire of immediate laugh-getters. These in­cluded a choose record of words (furshlugginer, potrzebie, halvah, blintzes); names (Melvin Coznowski, Alfred E. Neuman), expletives (of which “Hoo-hah!” and “Yech!” have been early favorites), and some commonplace syntac­tical ploys. Kurtzman relied heavily on the “but primarily” development, as in: “We are giving special consideration to T.V. because we consider it has turn out to be an integral part of dwelling . . . a strong affect in shaping the longer term . . . however primarily we are giving at­tention as a result of we just obtained a brand new T.V. set,” or “As soon as more I’m going to struggle for regulation and order . . . for justice . . . however mainly for add­ing the sadistic factor that is such an important part of comic books!” With slight variations the cadence was good for a thousand gags, as in Flesh Backyard’s declaration: “That’s the difficulty with us earthlings! We all the time assume that alien creatures are hostile! I refuse to kill stated alien creature within the belief it’s hostile! I will kill it just for enjoyable!”

That this was Jewish humor was a properly­ stored secret; to most of Mad’s readers, judg­ing from the letters pages, halvah and blin­tzes have been nonsense phrases springing from nowhere. (The “bop speak” intervals and passing references to Charlie Parker should have been equally arcane to many.) As Kurtzman has noted, nevertheless, the in-jokes underwent a peculiar alchemy of their pas­sage to the surface world:· “In fact these names come out of the artist’s, the writer’s experience. But once they turn into issues like furshlugginer or potrzebie they tackle an air of secrecy . . . These have been personal real issues to us that we have been talking about, and private in a sense, and so they imparted a way of intrigue; the viewers can be touched by this mysterious association of sounds.” A brand new in-group was cast, with furshlugginer and potrzebie as its shibboleths.

Kurtzman’s Mad had one underlying joke: What if the hero turned out to be a jerk? All of the heroes, whether Superduper­man or Flesh Backyard or the Lone Stranger, have been the same, lecherous, avaricious cow­ards, betraying each ideally suited to stay on prime and more often than not dropping. If they gained, it was in demonic style: Bat Boy in Bat Boy and Rubin turned out to be a vampire bat, and Teddy of Teddy and the Pirates ended up operating an opium smuggling ring together with his fellow pirates.

Though much has been manufactured from Mad’s satirical bent, its jibes tended to be quite delicate; Kurtznian’s takes on the hypocrisies of television, promoting, and the funny pa­pers would not have stirred controversy if couched as essays in The Saturday Evaluate. His uncommon forays into politics — notably the routine through which Senator McCarthy turned a panelist on What’s My Shine? — have been sig­nificant not a lot for what they stated as for raising the topic at all. Kurtzman’s humor was less satire than formalist deliri­um; a lot of the funniest stuff, the send­ups of such gadgets as image puzzles or Rip­ley’s Consider It or Not, had no real level beyond a pleasure in their very own gratuitous­ness. He liked notably to parody print media; by way of his work young children un­consciously absorbed classes in typography and format, and past that the underlying lesson that format is content. The formats he played with included the Day by day News, The Racing Type, film advertisements, the posters for the Miss Rheingold contest, 3-D comics, fill-in-the dots and “What’s Fallacious With This Picture?” puzzles, the advertisements behind comedian books. The tiniest visual details have been vital: modifications in typeface, the spacing between letters, the relative measurement of different parts on the page.

Mad had an air of chaos just barely held at bay. Crazed as it’d appear, there was all the time the implication that issues may get much worse. In each frame the forces of coherence fought a dropping battle towards entropy. The jokes stepped on one another’s toes, one gag shoved another out of the best way, voices drowned one another out in violently escalating shouting matches. Within the ultimate frames of the Julius Caesar lampoon — in­tended as a self-referential commentary on Mad’s own methods — Marlon Brando as Mark Antony and James Mason as Brutus metamorphose rapidly into Dick Tracy, Fearless Fosdick, and Rip Kirby, while Marilyn Monroe rips aside the body to reveal Donald Duck and Goofy underneath (“Here everyone whips off rubber masks and you find out the hero actually isn’t the hero . . . the villain really isn’t the villain . . . I’m not likely your MAD author . . . mat­ter of reality, this MAD comic guide isn’t actually a MAD comic ebook . . . “). In “Three-Dimen­sions!,” a stunning exploration of the double imaginative and prescient and common disorientation produced by Three-D comics leads into more primary questions of perspective and reality. Holes are ripped in the frame, one page collapses onto another, and the last page of all is an empty white area.

No two individuals will agree on simply how funny Mad was, however it all the time hummed with power and it all the time seemed great. The Complete Mad presents the splendors of Elder, Wooden, Davis, and company as they have by no means been seen before, to such effect that the humor is nearly swamped by the magnificence of the drawing. (Particularly, the love-it-or-hate-it all-out ugliness of Ba­sil Wolverton’s monstrous candidates for Miss Potgold tackle terrifying propor­tions.) While Wallace Wood and Jack Davis executed Kurtzman’s concepts with fantastic fluency and humor, Will Elder was Mad’s different guiding genius. Eider’s eerie means to applicable the fashion of different cartoonists is amply displayed in his parodies of Gasoline Alley, Bringing Up Father, The Katzenjam­mer Youngsters, and Archie, but past mere mimicry there’s a blast of wildly damaging humor. If Kurtzman was the satirist, Elder was the anarchist: “I all the time needed to shock individuals . . . I used to be the Manson of the zanies.” Elder’s imaginative and prescient of Archie and Jug­head as sullen juvenile delinquents becomes genuinely ominous, whereas his transforma­tion of Mickey Mouse into the vengeful, stubble-faced Mickey Rodent reduce too shut for the “Walt Dizzy” individuals, who menace­ened authorized motion.

The Kurtzman-Elder collaboration may be seen at its greatest in Howdy Dooit, with its commercials for Bupgoo (“Bupgoo makes a glass of milk look precisely like a glass of beer!”) and Skwushy’s Sliced White-Bread (“If it’s good bread — it’s a marvel!”) and its maniacal contingent of youngsters in the “Peewee Gallery,” an underage mob ready to overwhelm the repellent “Buffalo Invoice.” When Buffalo Invoice asks one sinister-looking teenager what he needs to be when he grows up (“A police chief? A fireman? A Indian? Or, [hot-dog]perhaps a jet-fighter pilot? Huh?”) the boy replies: “Please, Buf­falo Bill, don’t be juvenile! . . . If one had the choice, it might in all probability be soundest to get right into a white-collar occupation comparable to an investment dealer or some-such! In fact . . . advertising and entertainment are profitable fields if one hits the highest brack­ets . . . very similar to Howdy Dooit has! In other words … what I need to do once I develop up, is to be a hustler like Howdy Dooit!” To which Invoice replies: “However youngster . . . Howdy Dooit is not any hustler! . . . Howdy Dooit is a cheerful picket marionette, manipulated by strings! Howdy Dooit, baby, is not any merce­nary, money grubbing hustler . . . I, Buffalo Invoice, am the mercenary, money grubbing hustler!” Seizing a pair of scissors, the child cuts Buffalo Bill’s invisible strings. As Invoice falls limp and vacant-eyed to the studio flooring, a raging Howdy Dooit screams for the cameras to chop.

The humor to a big degree was concerning the uncanny talent of the artists. Their abili­ty to summon up the “actual” figures of tele­imaginative and prescient, films, and comedian’ strips and pressure them to do outrageous things provoked a manic glee. It was the revenge of the automotive­toonists, and each reader received a jolt of sub­versive satisfaction from it. That Mickey Mouse and Archie have been not likely the targets even a toddler might begin to understand. Mad made it clear that each one the pictures and characters have been made by individuals — and that what was made may be unmade. They took them apart before our eyes, put mustaches on them, made them converse Yiddish or pig latin.

The world Mad caricatured not exists, but the Mad of the ’50s still seems remarkably current. In any case, the Age of Parody that it helped kick off — the age that prolonged by means of Lenny Bruce, The Realist, Zap Comix, Blazing Saddles, and Saturday Night time Reside — ended only lately. It ended when the potential targets of parody, from Ronald Reagan and Joe Isuzu on down, finally labored out easy methods to short-circuit the method by deliberately making themselves parodies prematurely: pre-caricatured, as denims are preshunk. Presumably some future Kurtzman is working on the problem proper now.

The problem of distinguishing parodies from the actual world had been broached from the start within the pages of Mad. It was another uncommon, perhaps unintended dimension of that studying expertise. For me, as for a lot of of Mad’s youngest readers, the objects of parody have been altogether unknown. Although I might comply with them when it came to Captain Video, The Lone Ranger, and Howdy Doody, I was at sea on the whole lot else and apart from no one had defined what a parody was. Slowly, by a painstaking archaeological course of, I divined that something else was being referred to, nevertheless it was no straightforward matter to reconstruct the unknown referent, to recreate, say, Little Orphan Annie from “Little Orphan Melvin” or the McCarthy hearings from Mad’s conversion of them into the quiz present What’s My Shine? It was a peculiar schooling, learning concerning the world from the image it forged inMad’s deforming mirrors. It was also an schooling from which one by no means fairly recovered, for by the point those unique models have been finally revealed, that they had acquired within the uncovering a haunting and perpetual aura of incongruity.


The Complete Mad. Notes and Com­ments Edited by John Benson and Written by John Benson, Bill Mason, and Bhob Stewart. Revealed by Russ Cochran (P.O. Box 46 9, West Plains, MO 65775), $30 each; $130 for boxed, four-volume set. Pre­vious generations had the Harvard Classics and the Encyclopaedia Britannica to adorn their sitting rooms; we now have this luxury full-color copy of your complete 23-is­sue run of Mad in its unique comic-book format. Mad was America’s secret weapon towards the stultifying cultural climate of the early ’50s, a high-intensity mix of warped takeoffs, eye-popping graphics, and simply plain rowdiness. One can wander round for days in this fun home, happily mingling with Melvin of the Apes, Starchie, G.I. Shmoe, and a forged of hundreds. Russ Cochran, who has beforehand issued black-­and-white reprints of the entire EC comics line, caps the collection with this mag­nificent set, low cost at the worth.

Two-Fisted Tales (EC Classics #3). Revealed by Russ Cochran, $4.95 paper. Kurtzman’s warfare comics, rigorously re­searched and sometimes somber, have been designed to counteract the gung-ho unreality that prevailed (and prevails) within the style. This reprint assembles the pieces of an uncom­pleted Civil Conflict venture which for commer­cial reasons stopped brief on the fall of Fort Donelson. The vigorously orchestrated graphics by Jack Davis, Wallace Wood, and the rest of the longer term Mad crew inject life into the irreproachably “instructional” material.

Panic (EC Classics # 10). Revealed by Russ Cochran, $4.95 paper. EC’s house­grown imitation Mad virtually seems to be like the original — not surprisingly, because it used vir­tually the identical artists. On nearer examina­tion, nevertheless, the layouts are extra predict­in a position and the humor extra bludgeoning, with a predilection for editor Al Feldstein’s model of horror. This edition reprints the primary two issues complete, specializing in Mick­ey Spillane, This Is Your Life, The African Queen, and Broadway realism (a somewhat philistinish dig at Williams, Miller, and Inge); best of the bunch is Will Elder’s free-form rewrite of The Woman or the Tiger?

Flash Gordon: The Complete Every day Strips, 1951-1953. By Dan Barry and Harvey Kurtzman, with Frank Frazetta and Jack Davis. Kitchen Sink Press, $13.95. Kurtzman explores his caricature roots in a revived Flash Gordon strip he wrote shortly earlier than the inception of Mad. Consists of an interview with Kurtzman and samples of his rough sketches.

Harvey Kurtzman’s Jungle E-book. By Harvey Kurtzman. Kitchen Sink Press, $29.95; $14.95 paper. This reprint of a scarce 1959 Ballantine paperback is very really helpful for a style of Kurtzman on his personal and at his sharpest. The standouts on this set of four extended fables are “The Group Man in the Grey Flannel Ex­ecutive Suite” (a bitter firsthand report on lechery, penny-pinching, and basic mean­spiritedness in the decrease reaches of the publishing world) and “Decadence Degen­erated” (a caricature of the Previous South based mostly on Kurtzman’s wartime experiences in Par­is, Texas).

Goodman Beaver. By Harvey Kurtz­man and Will Elder. Kitchen Sink Press, $9.95. The naive go-getter who made his first look in Jungle E-book continues his pilgrim’s progress by means of contempo­rary chicanery. The strip ran recurrently in Kurtzman’s journal Help!, a failed ’60s bid to recreate the success of Mad. After that, Kurtzman and Elder went over to Playboy with the long-running but disap­pointingly low-energy “Little Orphan Fan­nie” function.

My Life As A Cartoonist. By Harvey Kurtzman. Pocket Books, $2.50 paper. Don’t anticipate an excessive amount of revelation from this  slim paperback, aimed toward younger readers; Kurtzman’s interviews in The Complete Mad are a lot more revealing concerning the journal’s origins. The ebook does at the very least supply a brief course in cartooning, including advice on brushes and inks. — G.O’B.