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Thursday, April 7, 2011

POST # 39 - HARVEY KURTZMAN's "POT-SHOT PETE" (Original Art) and MORE...

In the world of comic books and humor there are few names that can cause such awe
and inspiration as the legendary name of Harvey Kurtzman.

For decades, aspiring artists, writers, animators, and humorists have bowed before his work in reverent study to glean inspiration, seek illumination, and generate stimulation. Kurtzman possessed a rare genius of wit and creativity that have provided innumerable moments of imaginative entertainment for more than half a century. Even if you have never heard of the man, you have likely been influenced in some way by his far-reaching creations, the most well-known brainchild being one MAD Magazine. While acolytes of William M. Gaines and Al Feldstein may debate who conceived the original idea, there can be no doubt who was the original driving creative force behind the influential humor publication.

While he is just as revered for his ground-breaking war and adventure comics, as well as his innovative story-telling techniques, it is the culture warping humor of the zany MAD that will ultimately be Kurtzman's legacy. Prior to MAD's inaugural issue in October 1952, Harvey Kurtzman had been honing his craft with his hilarious HEY LOOK! series of one-page gag cartoons published in various Timely/Atlas/Marvel comics since 1946. From there he joined the young and talented staff at EC Comics who would soon change the face of American comics, where he initially contributed dozens of stories for their science fiction and horror lines, but would later discover his niche as the editor, writer, and artist for EC's war and adventure comics TWO-FISTED TALES and FRONTLINE COMBAT.

It was during this period when Kurtzman also conceived of the character of POT-SHOT PETE, a sheriff whose charmingly amusing adventures were published first by DC in 1950 as one page gags, and later that year by TOBY in JOHN WAYNE ADVENTURE COMICS, debuting in issue #5 with the 5 page story, POT-SHOT PETE vs. TWO-GUN ZILCH (which was later reprinted in MAD #15 and #18, both in 1954, under the title of "POT-SHOT PETE Sheriff Of Yucca-Pucca Gulch"). The delightful and amusing story is a playful mixture of Kurtzman's HEY LOOK style and his later MAD satirical story-telling.

(You can find more about Harvey Kurtzman and his stories and art on another blog of mine here, here, and here.)

Here now for your pleasure I present Harvey Kurtzman's original artwork for...



A Harvey Kurtzman bonus:
If you enjoyed the previous story, you'll also dig these...

Original artwork for Kurtzman's HEY LOOK!, circa 1950

Original art for a Kurtzman one-page gag story, "GENIUS",
published in JOHN WAYNE ADVENTURE COMICS #12, circa 1951-52

Original art for an unpublished Kurtzman gag page, circa 1950,
later reworked in MAD as a "Movie Scenes We'd Like To See" bit



  1. Have the Pot-Shot Pete stories ever been collected? They're really wonderful, and I'd like to read them all.

  2. Joplin John,
    I agree, so would I!
    To my knowledge, no, there isn't a definitive collection featuring all the POT-SHOT PETE stuff, but I have been wrong before. If someone out there knows of such a collection, let me know. There are several bits and pieces of Harvey Kurtzman's work on display here and there on the web, and recently volumes of his TRUMP and HUMBUG magazines have been published, as well as collections of his LITTLE ANNIE FANNY with Bill Elder, and also many the early MAD issues have been reproduced in book form. If I could afford to, I'd love to own everything available by Kurtzman, I think he is incredible.

  3. interesting picture
    nice article