Update #10 – August 31, 2015 – The reviews are in!

Posted by Bill Schelly on September 6, 2015

Here are some reviews and reader reactions to my new book Harvey Kurtzman, The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America. And remember…. October is “Harvey Kurtzman Month,” the anniversary of his 92nd birthday, a day when everyone who loved Mad or his many other sterling works can take a moment to remember him and give thanks for all that he gave us.

A wonderful book about Harvey Kurtzman, my mentor, who taught me most of what I know about humour, has just been published. Read. Enjoy.  (Terry Gilliam)

I highly endorse and recommend Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America… Though 644 pages long, it reads like a breeze and I was sorry it was over when it was. It is scrupulously researched and filled with grand insights into its subject without forcing you into one particular interpretation. (Mark Evanier)

Harvey Kurtzman has just become the subject of an imposing new biography by Bill Schelly, published by Fantagraphics. It’s surely the most important biography of a cartoonist since David Michaelis’s Schulz and Peanuts (2007), and it’s a much better book. (Michael Barrier)

This is an outstanding book, a real work of well-researched scholarship. It is also an important book as Harvey Kurtzman should be a household name in America – and throughout the world. (William Stout)

Schelly approaches Kurtzman’s work, life and the surrounding sociopolitical context as an all-encompassing tableau. … As a chronological survey of Kurtzman’s career, Schelly’s book is a comprehensive, informed endeavor, and will certainly fill many of the gaps in Kurtzman’s professional history. (Akin Ajayi – Haaretz)

Schelly’s exhaustive biography makes [it] exceptionally clear that Kurtzman … was the Matt Groening/Jon Stewart/Tina Fey of his day, giving Kurtzman a hero’s welcome into the pantheon of American cultural pioneers. (Steven Hiller – Atlantic magazine).

Definitive! Playboy’s Book of the Month for May 2015. (Cat Auer – Playboy)

Harvey Kurtzman, The Man Who Created Mad is a delightful, easy to read and compelling look at a great talent, Harvey Kurtzman. It reads like a novel. A five star novel. (Barry Pearl)

The Ramones, David Letterman, Mystery Science Theater, Saturday Night Live: All impossible to imagine without the satire in Mad magazine. Comics historian Schelly has penned an exhaustive (and, yeah, exhausting) study of one of the most important humorists of the 20th century. (Joe Gross – Austin American-Statesman)

Thoroughly researched…devoted fans will welcome this exhaustive study. (Library Journal)

This 642-page doorstop from award-winning comic-book historian Bill Schelly is a thorough, loving chronicle of Kurtzman’s life, struggles, art, and influence. I didn’t want to place it on the shelves alongside my beloved Mad and EC Comics archives. It made me want to take them off the shelves and sit on the floor surrounded by them, giving every page a fresh look. (Mark Rahner – Seattle Weekly)

Bill Schelly has done a solid piece of work. Informative and fun for comics fans who have long glorified Kurtzman… For the general public, the book is Kurtzman’s long overdue induction into the pantheon of certified American comic geniuses. … Schelly details Kurtzman’s life honestly and wisely avoids exploiting the melodrama in the rise and sad, slow fall of Harvey Kurtzman… (Paul Karasik – The Comics Journal)

I thank the author, Bill Schelly, for finally giving the great Harvey Kurtzman his due. This is a terrific book and it sheds a lot of light on the origins of modern humor and comedy. I think a copy should be given to every kid on his or her Bar or Bat Mitzvah, First Communion or thirteenth birthday. (J. A. Goodman)

Bill Schelly’s book is both a good read in its own right, and an important work of scholarship detailing the life, battles, and working methods of a man whose work had a profound influence on popular culture in ways that may not be immediately obvious. I recommend it for anyone interested in history, comics, popular culture, or the creative process. (Nils Osmar – Amazon Top 1000 Reviewer)

This recent biography of Harvey Kurtzman will probably stand as the definitive biography of one of America’s most influential humorists and cartoonists. Schelly, a longtime comics fan and historian, has really outdone himself with this volume. What really struck me as a reader however, is the quality of Schelly’s writing. There are long stretches of exposition that could have been dry, but Schelly manages to make the entire book an engaging reading experience, even the drawn-out, depressing saga of Kurtzman’s illness and final days. If you’re a comics fan, interested in the history of American humor, or simply enjoy reading thoroughly sourced, well-written biographies, then waste no time in getting a copy of Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America. I cannot praise it enough. (S. C. Ringgenberg)

I can only add to this that Mr. Schelly, artist a comics scholar, has really done his homework. His book is exhaustively researched. I particularly enjoyed reading Mr. Schelly’s descriptions of Kurtzman’s drawing process. Mr. Schelly also seems to have interviewed everyone from Robert Crumb to Gloria Steinem, from Bill Stout to Terry Gilliam. These interviews bring Kurtzman to life on the page. I think this book would make a GREAT movie. The question is whose hand would the producers cast to simulate the lyrical, animated, and elegant drawings of a modern master? (Kevin Sacco)

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