Friday, March 22, 2013

"The "Celebrating Kurtzman" Panel

comp for MAD #1
On March 19th, New York's Society of Illustrators hosted a two hour, sold-out, SRO panel discussion and graphic presentation in conjunction with the current Harvey Kurtzman retrospective (curated by Monte Beauchamp and Denis Kitchen) "CELEBRATING KURTZMAN" with artists Robert Grossman, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, Drew Friedman, and moderated by Peter Kuper

It was a fabulous and fun night of reminiscing about the brilliant cartoonist/satirist/editor (MAD, TRUMP, HUMBUG, HELP!)
/writer/teacher, GURU, and all around cartoon renaissance man, Harvey Kurtzman. Many cartoonist & illustration luminaries, as well as friends, family members and ex-students from the School of Visual Arts, etc, were also in attendance.

Earlier in the day, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth and I appeared on the NPR's Leonard Lopate show on WNYC to discuss all things Harvey Kurtzman.  Listen to the entire interview here:

Many HK related images were screened and discussed during the panel, among them: (click to enlarge any image)
I drew this imagined first meeting of EC publisher Bill Gaines first meeting Harvey Kurtzman in 1950, for a 50th anniversary of MAD feature 
Meet the staff of HUMBUG

Meet the staff of HELP!
L to R: Publisher James Warren, editor Harvey Kurtzman, HK's assistant,
curvy Gloria Steinem, business manager Harry Chester
(Terry Gilliam would join later)

 This was a group photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt taken at the 1971 
Playboy writers convention. Included among the many luminaries flanking 
Hef: Arthur C. Clarke, Michael Chrichton, Art Buchwald, Jean Shephard,
 John Cheever, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Gay Talese, one lady and 
LeRoy Neiman. To the right of Neiman is Harvey Kurtzman and to
 right is my father, Bruce Jay Friedman. When my dad showed 
me this photo 
(I was 12) the thing that MOST impressed me was that he was standing right 
next to one of my all time idols, The man that invented MAD, Harvey Kurtzman.
 I would finally meet Kurtzman seven years later.
key to who's who
1975, the first issue of HK's class publication "kar-tunz". As I mentioned during the panel, the sole reason I chose the School of Visual Arts as an art school in 1977 was because Harvey
Kurtzman was listed as an instructor in their catalog.

Hk created this cartoon image to be included in kar-tunz the first year I took his class and
inscribed this copy for me.
ex-student visiting Harvey at SVA, circa 1984 (bad hair day for me) photo by
ex-Kurtzman student/classmate Mark Newgarden
Mark Newgarden & Harvey/photo by Drew Friedman

Arnold Roth, Robert Grossman, Al Jaffee and me prepare for the HK slideshow
many back-of-heads were in attendance for the HK panel

Arnold Roth, Robert Grossman, Al Jaffee, Drew Friedman and moderator Peter Kuper,
 surrounded by Kurtzman originals.
 Back of heads: (center) Tom Bunk, Joyce Jaffe

Arnold Roth: "Walking into the Angouleme comics festival with Harvey was like walking
into the Vatican with Jesus"
Al Jaffee: "I've been doing the MAD fold-in now for 45 years. If I'd have done it for Harvey, it would have run once. He was always looking for NEW ideas"
Me: "Imagine a world if Harvey Kurtzman had never existed. There would have been no MAD magazine, which means there would have been no CRACKED magazine... or SICK magazine. Unimaginable!"

my recently completed portrait of Harvey Kurtzman
This was my 2012 memoir on Harvey Kurtzman for the Comics Journal, "Seriously Funny":

All about "The Art of Harvey Kurtzman show" at the Society of Illustrators in NYC:

Thanks to Peter Kuper, Mark Newgarden, Glenn Bray, Monte Beauchamp, Anelle Miller and Ben Fentington. Panel photos by Ray Alma and Chris Boyle, among others.


  1. I really wish I could have gone to New York to see the panel. I was very happy that I had the chance to listen to your discussion on the radio via their webstream. Great stuff.

  2. Oh, America gets everything that's good, with the possibly exception of heart disease and morbid obesity.

    However, did you know there's a short film about the exhibition which is well worth a watch, especially for anybody on the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean.