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Humbug
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About the Author

In addition to his pioneering work on the "serious" EC war comics, Harvey Kurtzman (1924-1993) created the all-time greatest satirical comic (with Mad), the most widely-read adult comic strip (with "Little Annie Fanny" in Playboy), and one of the earliest graphic novels (with the 1959 The Jungle Book).

Reviews

Man-We're Beat! Satire has got us beat. 1953-We started MAD magazine for a comic-book publisher and we did some pretty good satire and it sold very well. 1956-We started Trump magazine...and we worked much harder and we did much better satire and we sold much worse. 1957-We started Humbug magazine and we worked hardest of all and turned out the very best satire of all, which of course now sells the very worst of all. And now...as they throw rocks at Vice President Nixon...as space gets cluttered with missiles...and as our names are carefully removed from our work in MAD pocketbooks-a feeling of beatness creeps through our satirical veins and capillaries and we think how George S. Kaufman once said, 'Satire is something that closes Saturday night....'-From the editorial to Humbug's final issue We won't write for morons. We won't do anything just to get laughs. We won't be dirty. We won't be grotesque. We won't be in bad taste. We won't sell magazines.-Declaration of editorial principles, Humbug #1 Between MAD and Annie Fanny, Kurtzman's biographical summaries will note that he created and edited three other magazines, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, but, whereas his MAD and Annie Fanny are readily available in reprint form, his major satirical work in the interim period is virtually unknown. Humbug, which had poor distribution, may be the least known, but to those who treasure the rare original copies, it equals or even exceeds MAD in displaying Kurtzman's creative genius. Humbug was unique in that it was actually published by the artists who created it: Kurtzman and his cohorts from MAD Will Elder, Jack Davis, and Al Jaffee, were joined by universally acclaimed cartoonist Arnold Roth. With no publisher above them to rein them in, this little band of creators produced some of the most trenchant and engaging satire of American culture ever to appear on American newsstands. At last, the entire run of 11 issues of Humbug is being reprinted in a deluxe format, much of it reproduced from the original art, allowing even owners of the original cheaply-printed issues to see the full impact of these creators' artistry for the first time MAD magazine for a comic-book publisher and we did some pretty good satire and it sold very well. 1956-We started Trump magazine...and we worked much harder and we did much better satire and we sold much worse. 1957-We started Humbug magazine and we worked hardest of all and turned out the very best satire of all, which of course now sells the very worst of all. And now...as they throw rocks at Vice President Nixon...as space gets cluttered with missiles...and as our names are carefully removed from our work in MAD pocketbooks-a feeling of beatness creeps through our satirical veins and capillaries and we think something that closes Saturday final issue Between MAD and Trump, Humbug, and Help!, but, whereas his MAD and Annie Fanny are readily available in reprint form, his major satirical work in the interim period is virtually unknown. Humbug, which had poor distribution, may be the least known, but to those who treasure the rare original copies, it equals or even exceeds MAD in style="font-style: italic; ">Humbug was unique in that it was actually published by the artists who created it: Kurtzman and his cohorts from MAD Will Elder, Jack Davis, and Al Jaffee, were joined by universally acclaimed cartoonist Arnold Roth. With no publisher above them to rein them in, this little band of creators produced some of the most trenchant and engaging satire of American culture ever to appear on American newsstands. At last, the entire run of 11 issues of Humbug is being reprinted in a deluxe format, much of it reproduced from the original art, allowing even owners of the original cheaply-printed issues to see the full impact of time The Fantagraphics Books edition imparts to Humbug a level of finery that the material had needed in the first place. -- Michael H. Prince A comics blockbuster. -- John Defore Humbug is a testament not only to Kurtzman's genius, but to the astounding skills of his fellow artists as well-people like Jack Davis, Will Elder...Al Jafee and Arnold Roth and R.O. Blechman. -- Chris Mautner A lot of Humbug's humor now tickles the mind more than the funny bone, collected here it serves to fill in the missing piece on a seminal period of satiric shenanigans. -- John McAlley ""Books We Like"" It's Humbug that functions as the spiritual father for magazines such as National Lampoon, Spy and The Onion, among many others, but there's something invigorating about it because of its vantage point in the supposedly stodgy and bland 1950s. Coming out of that decade, Humbug really did break new ground. -- John Mitchell A comics blockbuster.--John Defore A comics blockbuster. --John Defore It 's a really impressive collection of work... and the production design here is nothing short of stunning. Fantagraphics really knocked this one out of the park in restoration. --Chris Mautner Humbug is a testament not only to Kurtzman 's genius, but to the astounding skills of his fellow artists as well people like Jack Davis, Will Elder Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth and R.O. Blechman. A lot of Humbug 's humor now tickles the mind more than the funny bone, collected here it serves to fill in the missing piece on a seminal period of satiric shenanigans. --John McAlley ""Books We Like" " It 's Humbug that functions as the spiritual father for magazines such as National Lampoon, Spy and The Onion, among many others, but there 's something invigorating about it because of its vantage point in the supposedly stodgy and bland 1950s. Coming out of that decade, Humbug really did break new ground. --John Mitchell Humbug is a testament not only to Kurtzman s genius, but to the astounding skills of his fellow artists as well people like Jack Davis, Will Elder Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth and R.O. Blechman. " A deluxe collection of a classic but long-forgotten satirical magazine Originally edited by Harvey Kurtzman of MAD fame, and written and drawn by his MAD compadres, among them Jack Davis and Will Elder, Humbug was cool beyond cool. --Roger Sabin" Never before reprinted, Fantagraphics recently collected Humbug, complete with new essays, interviews, and annotations, in two handsome hardback volumes....Jack Davis and Will Elder... elevated the comic-book parody beyond the standards of MAD and Trump. For Humbug, Davis produced some of the best work of his long career. Al Jaffee... tackled varied topics... all with equal skill and irreverence. --Rick Klaw" Kurtzman and company aimed high for a more sophisticated humor mag than the competition...Fantagraphics package for it is bar none handsome, sturdy and restored with great care...I was most interested in the behind-the-scenes story of Humbug and the creative process that went into it not to mention doomed it and the book s introduction and exclusive interviews more than satisfy on that count. --Rod Lott" Unparallel parodists Kurtzman and Elder ran rampant for themselves when they published these 11 exceptional issues of comic art anarchy. This two-volume hardcover box set has been reproduced from the original art and digitally restored to make everything look even better than when it first came out in 1957. This long-overdue definitive edition of Humbug is an essential slice of satire from the masters of the genre. --Jeffrey Morgan" This is the best thing I have ever been sent to review. I didn't think that this book would ever exist but now it does and it'd better than I could have imagined... The eleven issues of Humbug are faithfully reprinted in this two-volume hardcover set and it comes in a fancy and sturdy box. The magazines were funny and beautiful with art by Will Elder and Jack Davis and some other folks. If you don't buy this book then I don't want to know you...There is no excuse for not buying this right now. Sell your hair, blood, or skin to get it. --Nick Gazin" [A] superb two-volume boxed set that reprints Humbug in full, plus it also contains proper introductions and interviews with some who worked on the magazine. The material is excellent. It's Kurtzman, Elder, Davis, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth and a few others working at the peak of their awesome powers. The package is excellent. It's well-designed and well-printed, and I can't think of a way in which it could have been improved. --Mark Evanier" A comics blockbuster. --John Defore" The Humbug set from Fantagraphics is out and it's great. Fine printing and binding will keep this slipcased two-volume set looking good long after the rest of us are gone. --Harry Lee Green" This lovingly restored collection of Humbug's five issues is accompanied by essays, interviews and annotations, providing a glimpse into what MAD had wrought. --Richard Pachter" This omnibus of all eleven issues of Humbug is equal parts giddy genius and period piece. The satire is razor-sharp... [T]here are such subtleties here and such rapier wit that the line is clearly visible from the Algonquin Round Table to Kurtzman to Crumb to Ralph Bakshi to Mr. Show to The Colbert Report. --Byron Kerman" In a way, Humbug almost feels like a goof-humor version of The New Yorker or something. There s a lot of fairly serious political/social commentary, cloaked in wry rainment. It s a blend as interesting as any cocktail, and it s goddamn great to have this stuff easily available. Hats away! --Byron Coley and Thurston Moore" A lot of Humbug s humor now tickles the mind more than the funny bone, collected here it serves to fill in the missing piece on a seminal period of satiric shenanigans. --John McAlley ""Books We Like" "" Featuring the entire run of Humbug satirical magazines masterminded by Harvey Kurtzman, creator of the legendary US comic MAD, this luscious two-volume box set will fascinate. --David McComb" It s Humbug that functions as the spiritual father for magazines such as National Lampoon, Spy and The Onion, among many others, but there s something invigorating about it because of its vantage point in the supposedly stodgy and bland 1950s. Coming out of that decade, Humbug really did break new ground. --John Mitchell" It s a really impressive collection of work... and the production design here is nothing short of stunning. Fantagraphics really knocked this one out of the park in restoration.--Chris Mautner" [I]ncludes so many all-time great cartoonists (Kurtzman, Jaffee, Elder, etc.) at the peak of their powers and ambitions.--Timothy Hodler At long last, a handsome, two-volume, slipcased set brings back into print a pivotal, neglected portion of the oeuvre of Harvey Kurtzman and that of a cadre of gifted pranksters bent on smart satire.--Rich Kreiner Humbug reveals Kurtzman as a satirist who still demands our attention. --Ben Schwartz [T]he artwork is uniformly mind-blowing. ... This collects the whole ill-fated run in a luxurious hardbound package including top-notch background material. Worth it for the mammoth Arnold Roth and Al Jaffee interview alone.--M. Ace It's a really impressive collection of work... and the production design here is nothing short of stunning. Fantagraphics really knocked this one out of the park in restoration.--Chris Mautner Smart writing, savvy pop-cultural lampoons mirroring the mid-century's social turmoil, brilliant artwork.--Michael H. Prince Humbug is a testament not only to Kurtzman's genius, but to the astounding skills of his fellow artists as well--people like Jack Davis, Will Elder...Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth and R.O. Blechman. Humbug reveals Kurtzman as a satirist who still demands our attention. --Ben Schwartz

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