Friday, March 14, 2014

Help! magazine covers / 1960-1965

Mad magazine started to take off after issue twenty-four in July 1956 when editor Harvey Kurtzman switched from a ten-cent comic to a twenty-five-cent magazine (though still heavily reliant on a comic strip format) but things didn't go Kurtzman's way and he left Mad that year. 
     He always seemed to be chasing after the ultimate humor magazine.  It was almost in his grasp with the brilliant Trump in 1957 but only two issues were published (by Hugh Hefner) before cash-flow problems forced its closure.  Next up was Humbug, starting in August 1957 but that only last for eleven issues.  
     Help! arrived in August 1960 and for Kurtzman it was a record run of twenty-six issues until the last one in September 1965.  It turns out this was his longest running magazine.  Because the editorial budget was so low a lot of the pages were filled with whole page news or celebrity photos with speech balloons added.  Reprinting historical comic strips and readers cartoons filled more pages.  An interesting idea in many issues was the fumeti, an Italian style photo-strip that used several actors and personalities who became famous in later years.  As the cover is vitally important (especially for newsstand publications) I always thought Kurtzman created some really clever visual ideas as you can see below.

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