2016 Eisner Award Winner for Best Comics-Related Book
Harvey Kurtzman created MAD, and MAD revolutionized humor in America. Kurtzman's groundwork as the original editor, artist, and sole writer of MAD provided the foundation for one of the greatest publishing successes of the 20th century. But how did Kurtzman invent MAD, and why did he leave it shortly after it burst nova-like onto the American scene? Bill Schelly's heavily researched biography finally and fully answers these question for the first time. Through fresh interviews with Kurtzman's colleagues, friends and family, including Hugh Hefner, Al Feldstein, James Warren, R. Crumb, Jack Davis, Gilbert Shelton, and many others, and an examination of Kurtzman's personal archives, this book tells the true story of one of the 20th century's greatest humorists. His family life, an FBI investigation during the McCarthy Era, his legal battles with William M. Gaines (publisher of MAD), all are revealed for the first time. Rich with anecdotes, from Kurtzman's Brooklyn beginnings to his post-MAD years, when his ceaseless creativity produced more innovations: new magazines, a graphic novel, and "Little Annie Fanny" in Playboy.
"A wonderful book about Harvey Kurtzman, my mentor, who taught me most of what I know about humour has just been published. Read. Enjoy." — Terry Gilliam
"This 642-page doorstop from award-winning comic-book historian Bill Schelly is a thorough, loving chronicle of Kurtzman’s life, struggles, art, and influence. I didn’t want to place it on the shelves alongside my beloved Mad and EC Comics archives. It made me want to take them off the shelves and sit on the floor surrounded by them, giving every page a fresh look." — Seattle Weekly
"This exhaustive biography by Bill Schelly gives Kurtzman a hero’s welcome into the pantheon of American cultural pioneers." — The Atlantic
"Schelly’s book is a fascinating read, astonishingly relevant to us aging writers and artists trying to make a living in a changing media landscape." — Tablet