Daily Scans Below are the 3 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Daily Scans" journal:
October 30th, 2009
11:07 pm


You'll feel like a New Man, Alfred
Yikes. Is this one of the most famous faces of the 20th Century? you bet.

Alfred E Neuman is not an original creation of MAD MAGAZINE, of course. The grinning impish face (with a missing tooth and ears like an early warning system)goes way way back. He appears in ads and postcards in the years before WW I, although the further back one digs, the less clear the resemblance becomes until you're not sure if you can really call that poster for a painless dentist an ancestor or not. This charming portrait first appeared in MAD# 27, the April 1956 issue. The illustration was taken from an old postcard. The border itself is worth studying for a few minutes at the higher magnification, being art by Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder and Wally Wood.

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September 17th, 2009
11:20 pm


Blimey! Vampires by Wood?

How cute is that Wally Wood art? With just a tweak and a nudge, he could swing from humor to science fiction to horror, and yet still have that instantly recognizable Woodness. This sample is from MAD# 3, February 1953. I love the trail of footsteps click-clicking behind Godiva like footprints. Can you tell Wood worked with Will Eisner on THE SPIRIT? This might be better if they had played up the dialect more; maybe you can't tell from the way the characters are talking but this is supposed to be in England. (Script is by Harvey Kurtzman, natch.)

creator: harvey kurtzman, creator: wally wood

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September 8th, 2009
10:28 pm


Harvey's HUMBUG
As talented and perceptive as Harvey Kurtzman was, I've always had a sad feeling of missed possibilities about him. He wrote and edited two titles for EC (TWO-FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT) which had meticulous research and strong moral points to make.. they were more about the hopelessness and injustice of war, rather than the gung-ho flave-waving stuff other publishers put out. With the top artists of EC to work with, Kurtzman turned out classic material that still hits hard today. But, to make more money despite his slow careful writing style, he began EC's humor comic, TALES CALCULATED TO DRIVE YOU MAD. Those early color comics issues of MAD are gems. Even after MAD went to a full size black & white magazine format, it kept for years a really subversive satirical outlook.

But Harvey Kurtzman left MAD to be his own boss, and (sorry to say) he never quite produced as fine a product as he seemed capable of. Maybe he benefitted from Bill Gaines' input and the EC atmosphere; maybe his approach to comedy was formulaic and would have worn thin anyway. In any case, Kurtzman edited two issues of TRUMP for Hugh Hefner, and edited HELP! for a few years. He went on to produce LITTLE ANNIE FANNY for PLAYBOY, an epic satirizing current fads and trends, always with a heavy dose of nudity and implied sex. I think LITTLE ANNIE FANNY is better than it's usually given credit for being. It had low points and dragged on too long, but at its best, it was both funny and incisive.At one point, Kurtzman started his own magazine, HUMBUG. From what I've seen, it was clever and witty, with great art. (Seriously... Will Elder, Al Jaffee, Jack Davis, Arnold Roth.. those guys would be funnyn if you had them illustrate the Yellow Pages.) But something is definitely lacking. It's just not as funny as MAD was. Sometimes I wonder if Kurtzman needed more editorial guidance and prodding than he would accept. The material has dated badly, too. Then-current movies which have been forgotten and trends long since left behind don't help humor. Anyway, here are a few glimpses at HUMBUG.


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