Fantagraphics Logo

Harvey Kurtzman

Harvey Kurtzman (1924–1993), one of the most influential cartoonists and humorists of the 20th century, attended the High School of Music and Art with classmates Will Elder and Al Jaffee. He was a comic book freelancer in the 1940s, drawing the character Black Venus while in the Army (he was drafted in 1943), but he is best known for creating Mad for EC and for transitioning it from a comic book to a magazine, which had an enormous influence on American comedy. Kurtzman made his mark writing and editing the EC war comics Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, beginning in 1950. He drew 11 stories himself and did the layouts for the rest, for other artists to follow. After breaking from EC in 1956, he started three humor/comics anthologies: Trump (1957), Humbug (1957–1958), and Help! (1960–1965). In 1962, he began working on Little Annie Fanny with Elder for Hugh Hefner’s Playboy and continued the series for the next 26 years. Later, he taught at the School of Visual Arts. The Harvey Awards, one of the industry’s most high-profile honors, are named after him. A collection of his Hey Look! strips won the Harvey Award “Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work” for 1993. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame in 1989.