Harvey Kurtzman is a genius — that’s really all there is to it. Well, rather, there’s slightly more to it — “was”, considering he died not quite 15 years ago. And, well, sure just merely calling him a genius does sell him a little short, I suppose — it doesn’t bring up his fluid art style, his war comics which were the first to not glamorize war as all the others did, and he created Mad, which is pretty much a feat in itself. The Comics Journal had done a series of interviews with him, and this book compiles them (along with a couple of other earlier interviews, comics and essays). We can find out Kurtzman’s points of view on French comics (pro), being false in your work (con) and on the continuing decision to do Little Annie Fanny in paint rather than ink (mixed). Kurtzman also tells us about the genesis of the name “Mad”, the origin and naming of Alfred E. Neuman, and his views of business versus art.
Unfortunately, he tells us these things over and over again. Granted, that’s a product of the construction of the book — several interviews brought together — though I wonder if it’d have been almost better to compile the interviews into a long faux-conversation, to get to the new material without having to rehash the same questions over and over (which were, of course, new in the interviews’ original context, being in a stand-alone magazine rather than a book all on one subject). It is an admittedly minor nit, and that’s why we’re given the ability to opt to scan some things rather than read every single word as if it were gold… though the sum of these words is almost as good as that particular yellow, soft substance. (Not chicken fat.)