Update #2: January 8, 2015

Posted by peckjon on January 13, 2015

Finally, my upcoming biography Harvey Kurtzman, The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America (quite a mouthful) is at the printer! All the creative and editorial work is done, and now it’s just a matter of waiting for it to be released. The publisher tells me it will be out in May. Of course, it’s available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Some of you may notice that the price went from $29.99 to $34.99, and may be wondering why. The reason is simple: the book ended up running much longer than expected. It was originally solicited as a 464-page book, which proved to be a miscalculation. When we began putting it together, it was quickly obvious that it was running almost 200 pages longer than anticipated – a combination of not realizing how much room the artwork and photos would take (even though it’s principally a prose book) or the number of End Notes (1,074 to be precise). Plus, in addition to the text, there’s an 11-page Chronology of the notable events in Harvey Kurtzman’s life. Taking all of this into account, plus an 8-page color insert, a modest price increase was called for.

I hope no one’s intimidated by the thickness of the book. I assure you, it’s not padded. The story of Kurtzman’s life moves along at a good clip through 28 chapters, 5 of them devoted to Mad. There are 175,000 words, which I think is less than a third of the number in R. C. Harvey’s biography of Milton Caniff. There are lots of photographs in the book that have never seen print before. But what I want to emphasize is that the book tells the story of the life of a brilliant cartoonist, editor and comic book creator, with the emphasis on story. I tried to give it some of the qualities of a good novel. My goal when I was writing and shaping it was to create one of those books that “you can’t put down.” Whether I succeeded is up to you, but that was what I was going for.


The reaction to Black Light: The World of L. B. Cole has been little short of rapturous. I haven’t received many comments (yet) on the long biographical piece I wrote for it, but everyone who has seen the book has been blown away by the cornucopia of incredible comic book covers (and other artwork) by Leonard Cole – and by the quality of the paper and color printing. Cole always likened his approach to comic book covers to creating posters…. And, in my opinion, this book captures that quality perfectly. I don’t think there’ll ever need to be another collection of Cole’s artwork, because this one has all of his best work. As I’ve said before, I feel free to praise the book because it’s really the product of Jacob Covey, a brilliant designer who put it all together. All I did was write a 15,000 word essay and contribute a good portion of the images. Kudos to Jacob!!

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