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Elder & Kurtzman Original Art: Goodman Gets Gun Party Scene (1962)

Elder & Kurtzman Original Art: Goodman Gets Gun Party Scene (1962)
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    “Goodman Gets a Gun” spread (1962)

    As was typical of master satirist Kurtzman, he was was ahead of the pack when it came to the issue of guns and gun control. Way back in Help! magazine #16 (No. 1962) HK depicted his everyman Goodman Beaver, a guy who’s nothing special till his new job requires that he pack a gun. Suddenly the raw power of of carrying a pistol alters both his personality and his friends’ perception of him. This long, large horizontal frame (a 2-page spread in the Kitchen Sink collection) is of the most appealing within the story. The crowd packed into the Elbow Room is an excellent example of the zillion-detail scenes that Kurtzman & Elder originated during their classic MAD years and continued to perfect. Keep in mind that The Twist was all the dancing rage in 1962. An osteopath has an office adjoining the dance floor to immediately treat all the joints that go out of whack. The scene is full of curvaceous women and other eye-pops (what Elder called “chicken fat”): a cop beating a homeless man; a boorish man crowding a table; orderlies from a psychiatrist hospital with large net and straightjacket in hand, waiting for a crazy twister to come off stage; a man twisting so hard he burns a hole in the floor; and a man twisting his way toward the men’s room. Goodman (one-third from the left) imagines himself being as super cool as actor Marlon Brando, whom he imitates (the flying pigeons line is from On the Waterfront and “STELLAH!” —type missing on that line— is from Brando’s role in A Streetcar Named Desire). The girl Goodman is impressing is a dead-ringer for Elizabeth Taylor, fresh off her role in Cleopatra. This art is from the very last Goodman Beaver story. After this the Goodman character went through a sex change and became Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny.” Facts are our friends!

    Medium/Size/Condition: Pen and ink on heavy illustration board measuring 16 inches wide x 9.3 inches high. The art board is dinged on the upper right hand corner, well out of matting range, and there are miscellaneous scuffs and pencil marks (in Kurtzman’s handwriting), but is otherwise in excellent condition. Also of note for comics archaeologists Elder’s still visible pencils extend another inch under the inked panorama. That’s because other Goodman stories had their art extended to fit the paperback dimension of the first Goodman collection (Executive’s Comic Book, MacFadden, 1962), however “Goodman Gets A Gun” was not included and Elder therefore never had to extend the panels as he did on the other stories. The art also includes Elder’s acetate overlay, on which he blocked in red marker the areas in which the publisher was to add gray tone in all editions.  There is some tape residue on that separate overlay, not pictured here.

    Further reference: For more details on Goodman’s “sex change” transformation see Denis Kitchen’s essay in the 2-volume Little Annie Fanny collection published by Dark Horse. To read the full “Goodman Gets a Gun” story, see the Goodman Beaver collection (Kitchen Sink Press, 1984), still available in softcover and hardcover (including the limited edition signed by Kurtzman and Elder!) from Steve Krupp’s Curio Shoppe.

    Provenance: Warranted to be from the private archives of the Harvey Kurtzman estate, which is exclusively represented by the Denis Kitchen Art Agency, an affiliate of Steve Krupp’s Curio Shoppe and Gallery. This drawing is further warranted to be authentic.