(3 October 1924 – 21 February 1993)
was an American cartoonist and editor of comic books and magazines. His large body of work include writing and editing the parodic comic book Mad from 1952 until 1956, and the sexy and satirical Little Annie Fanny strips in Playboy from 1962 until 1988. His work is noted for its satire and parody of popular culture, social critique, and an obsessive attention to detail. His working method has been likened to that of an auteur, and those who illustrated his stories were expected to follow his layouts strictly.
Born to Jewish immigrants, Kurtzman took early to cartooning. After graduating from New York’s High School of Music & Art, he spent the 1940s doing freelance work for various publishers and publications before getting regular work at EC Comics in 1950 writing and drawing for their New Trend line of comic books. He wrote and edited the Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat war comic books, where he also drew many of the carefully researched stories, before he created his most-remembered comic book, Mad, in 1952. The Kurtzman-scripted stories were drawn by top EC cartoonists, most frequently Will Elder, Wally Wood, and Jack Davis; the early Mad was noted for its social critique and parodies of pop culture. The comic book switched to a magazine format in 1955, and Kurtzman left it in 1956 over a dispute with EC’s owner William Gaines over financial control. Following his departure, he did a variety of cartooning jobs, including editing the short-lived Trump and the self-published Humbug. In 1959, he produced the first book-length work of original comics, the adult-oriented, satirical Jungle Book. He edited the low-budget Help! from 1960 to 1965, a humor magazine which featured work by future Monty Python member Terry Gilliam and the earliest work of underground cartoonists such as Robert Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. He brought Help! to an end after the success of the risqué Playboy feature Little Annie Fanny began to take up too much of his time. While Annie Fanny provided much of his income for the rest of his career, he continued to produce an eclectic body of work, including screenwriting the animated Mad Monster Party in 1967 and directing, writing and designing several shorts for Sesame Street in 1969.
From 1973, Kurtzman taught cartooning at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His work gained greater recognition toward the end of his life, and he oversaw deluxe reprintings of much of his work. The Harvey Award was named in Kurtzman’s honor in 1988. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1989, and his work earned five positions on The Comics Journal’s Top 100 Comics of the 20th Century.
(June 25, 1928 – May 27, 2006)
was an American professional cartoonist active from the 1940s through the 1980s. Toth’s work began in the American comic book industry, but he is also known for his animation designs for Hanna-Barbera throughout the 1960s and 1970s. His work included Super Friends, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, and Birdman. Toth’s work has been resurrected in the late-night, adult-themed spinoffs on Cartoon Network: Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.
He was inducted into the comic-book industry’s Jack Kirby Hall of Fame in 1990.
was a bimonthly, anthology war comic published by EC Comics in the early 1950s. The title originated in 1950 when Harvey Kurtzman suggested to William Gaines that they publish an adventure comic. Kurtzman became the editor of Two-Fisted Tales, and with the advent of the Korean War, he soon narrowed the focus to war stories. The title was a companion comic to Frontline Combat, and stories Kurtzman wrote for both books often displayed an anti-war attitude.
The bimonthly title ran 24 issues, numbered 14–41, from 1950 to 1955. In 1952, EC published Two-Fisted Annual which had no new stories but instead bound together past issues of Two-Fisted Tales with a new cover by Kurtzman. The same procedure was repeated in 1953 for an annual with a new Jack Davis cover.
Years after its demise, Two-Fisted Tales was reprinted in its entirety and was adapted to television.
Artists who contributed included Kurtzman and other EC regulars such as John Severin, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, George Evans, Will Elder, Reed Crandall and Bernard Krigstein. Non-EC regulars that contributed to the comic included Alex Toth, Ric Estrada, Gene Colan, Joe Kubert and Dave Berg.
Kurtzman wrote the majority of the book’s stories from 1950 through 1953, with Jerry DeFuccio contributing one-page text stories and the occasional regular story as well. Colin Dawkins provided the writing for the majority of the stories for 1954 and 1955, with contributions from Davis, Evans and Severin. John Putnam, who scripted “Dien Bien Phu!”, later became the art director of EC’s Mad.