Wednesday, March 18, 2009


above - cover of HUMBUG hard bound Vol I

Rarely do you see Whoopee, or any other word of positive excitement, in the same sentence as HUMBUG.

In this case, HUMBUG is a proper noun. HUMBUG has been gone a long time - now, all its stuff have been reprinted in two hard bound volumes.

HUMBUG was sort of a co-op publication, the editor Harvey Kurtzman and the artists, Will Elder, Jack Davis, Arnold Roth, and Al Jaffee were all owners. The plan was for them to all share responsibility and the work. No mean old publishers was going to tell them what to do. Reality hit when they realized being your own publisher meant you had to pay the bills. The magazine folded after 12 issue.

The creative force of a magazine should not be the owner of the magazine Harvey Kurtzman later realized. It is a left brain vs right brain thing.

above - front cover of book jacket

As I have said more than once, Kurtzman, Elder, and Davis were the ones who gave MAD its originality and style and was a pacesetter in its genre of mags - then, they got MAD magazine up and rolling then abruptly left - or so it appeared.

After they left they first did two issues of TRUMP published by PLAYBOY and Hugh Hefner called it quits.. it was a market things - magazines generally were in a surviving mode - and not the time to start a new one.

These two hard bounds come in a handsome cardboard jacket and of course has the same material as the original HUMBUGs and visually better because it is on a higher quality of paper, thus the art comes across better.

However, many of the articles tackles issues and trends of that time (the 50s) - so it might not deliver the punch it would have back then - if anybody read it.

above the side view of the book jacket, which are pictures of the covers of the 12 issues - covers are on the cover... get it? yuk yuk!

This newly printed book set has an introduction by John Benson and Gary Groth. Anyone who has kept up with EC Comics has probably came across John Benson's name. He has been commenting on EC's works almost since their beginning. And Gary Groth is with COMIC JOURNAL and is also an expert on Kurtzman and crew. Together they deliver some very interesting inside information and good insights.

On the credits page they give a special thanks to Bhob Stewart who must have helped with information a great deal. Bhob knows his Kurtzman-and-the-gang stuff.

I read someplace that HUMBUG resembled England's PUNCH magazine. I think that is because the cheap off-color they used and Arnold Roth's art. This new publication was scheduled to be printed almost a year ago and they kept putting it off. I was beginning to wonder if it was coming at all... after all, the main target audience is up in years and probably the numbers are dwindling daily - then, yesterday it arrived in the main, well, I was pleased as PUNCH.

Below: The back of the book-set jacket.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

hit counter script