Friday, July 10, 2009
Very Good But Not Excellent Stuff From Kurtzman and Company
I would have given this five stars, but I fault Fantagraphics for doing some artsy-fartsy production on the various "Humbug" cover reproductions by also reproducing the various tears, wrinkles and missing pieces from the covers to make them look old. While the book goes on and on about how meticulously they rescanned and recreated missing artwork (for which this is worth a 5), they fall far short with these travesties posing as covers. It's like intentionally putting in scratches on a digitally remastered film. If I want a crappy copy of "Humbug", I certainly can pick one up at a show or on Ebay.
As far as material goes, this is very good, but not excellent Kurtzman material as other reviewers have said. Best is the parody of "Around the World in 80 Days" which is possibly why it is touted on the slipcase, but the other stuff doesn't hold up as strongly, despite great artwork.
BTW, I am currently at work about the history of "Cracked" magazine and although this book doesn't state it, Jaffee, Elder and Davis all bailed out to "Cracked" for a short time before eventually returning to "Mad" (in Jaffee and Davis' case) and "Playboy" (in Elder's case).
As for Kurtzman, I have always considered "Trump", "Help!" and especially "Mad" to be far superior to this. Overall, it looks good, but it leaves you kind of limp. Fantagraphic's lousy issue cover reproductions kind of imply this as well.
It's worth buying the deluxe limited edition for the original autographs of Jaffee, Davis and Roth.