Thursday, October 8, 2015

HELP! magazine, February 1962: Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, Will Eisner, Algis Budrys, Stan Freberg, Don Edwing, Lydia Wilen et al...

Archive.org has the content up from several issues of Help!, the fourth and last of Harvey Kurtzman's humor magazines, and the one with the longest shadow after Mad, given the remarkable locus of talent that clustered around the magazine, even with its low budget and irregular publishing schedule (publisher James Warren, already doing well with Forrest Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland and Spacemen but not yet also publishing Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, famously never paid any more than he had to for anything). For starters, Kurtzman's primary editorial assistants, not quite overlapping, were Gloria Steinem and Terry Gilliam; Steinem notably was good at engaging famous and up-and-coming comedians to appear on the covers and in the photo-comics, in imitation of Italian and other traditions, dubbed in the magazine by the Italian term "fumetti"...Gilliam, before decamping to the UK in part to avoid being drafted after the magazine folded in 1965, was perhaps the great conduit for the budding "underground" cartoonists such as R. Crumb appearing in the magazine, before there was an underground scene...among the fumetti actors was a young British comedian performing in New York in an imported review, John Cleese, and he and Gilliam first met due to that gig.

This issue features the infamous "Goodman Goes Playboy" graphic story by Kurtzman and Will Elder, the segment of the adventures of Goodman Beaver that puts a Hallowe'en-appropriate twist on Archie Comics, as well as offering a few light jabs at Playboy (Hugh Hefner had been the publisher of the second Kurtzman magazine, Trump, which was closed down hurriedly due a cash crunch at Playboy Enterprises--and Kurtzman and Elder would later do a famous strip for Playboy magazine for decades).  Publisher Martin Goodman, honcho at Archie and always ready to take offense at any sort of parody (and who had done so at Mad's parody "Starchie" some years earlier), initiated court action. Also, a reprint of a Will Eisner "The Spirit" story, an Algis Budrys-scripted fumetti called "The Mariners" (featuring actress Lydia Wilen, who might also be the Wilen who with her sister has made a career of household hints books in more recent years), a transcript of part of one of Stan Freberg's albums, and cartoons by, among others, Don Edwing (who also has an acting role in the fumetti). Budrys placed several scripts with Help!, at least two with a nautical theme (boats being one of his interests).

Thanks to Dennis Lien for noting these Archive entries on Fiction-L. To see this issue legibly, go through this link, since the embed below doesn't seem to have a sufficient enlargement function.

9 comments:

Mathew Paust said...

Hi, Todd. Still can't find an email addy for you. Here's my Forgotten Books contribution for tomorrow: Some Came Running

Todd Mason said...

Thanks!

neer said...

Hello Todd

Here's my FFB: An English Murder by Cyril Hare

http://inkquilletc.blogspot.in/2015/10/forgotten-book-english-murder-by-cyril.html

Thanks

Todd Mason said...

Thanks, Neer.

Mathew Paust said...

How well I remember how back in the day merely seeing the name "Harvey Kurtzman" started my laugh muscles convulsing.

Todd Mason said...

And, just added to the Friday Post, the Bhob Stewart post on the one issue Mercury Press did of Louis Untermeyer's magazine The Book of Wit & Humor...the "lost" sibling of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

http://potrzebie.blogspot.com/2011/02/forgotten-humor-magazine.html

Todd Mason said...

Did you ever read his war comics, Matt?

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Todd, I'm glad HELP! issues are available on Archives. Some of those names, like Kurtzman and Eisner, are familiar to me though I need to probe the other further.

Todd Mason said...

Some of them are not most famous for comics...Budrys not even best known for his humorous writing, though he did a fair amount. You can find many citations of Budrys on my blog here, including an obituary.