Posts from 2nd September 2008

Sep 08

Comics: A Beginner’s Guide: Humour Comics

The Brown Wedge1 comment • 1,518 views

Although those who know it in recent years might be surprised at this, most of the best humour comic artists link back to Mad. Don’t let the formulaic banality of so much of the recent material deter you. Mad was started by EC Comics in 1952 – I’ve mentioned their horror, SF and war comics elsewhere in this series. The editor was Harvey Kurtzman, one of the greatest cartoonists ever, and featured art by EC regulars such as Wally Wood, Jack Davis and Will Elder. These early issues were terrific, with some extraordinary strips – there’s an unlikely and jaw-dropping appearance by Bernie Krigstein (who’ll come up again in a couple of entries).

Kurtzman’s humour material is almost all well worth finding: Hey Look! and Help! are erratic but never less than magnificently executed, but his best comedy is in Goodman Beaver (beautifully inked by Elder) and especially The Jungle Book, one of the all-time great comics, it comprises four parody tales – a private eye story, a business satire, a cowboy tale and a Southern sheriff strip. It’s genuinely funny, and, for me, a genuine masterpiece of cartooning. (I would recommend skipping Kurtzman and Elder’s long-running Playboy strip, Little Annie Fanny, lovely as it looks.)