HELP! its a fumetti

Help! its a “fumetti” Adult humor sort of magazine that relied heavily upon contributions from readers…

Art Chantry (

This is going to be a toughie to share with you. It’s going to be hard to write anything about HELP! magazine and do it justice. you really need to find a complete run and look at the whole thing to really understand how important this magazine was to American graphic design history. Just for starters, without it we may never have had underground comics.

This is the first issue cover of HELP! magazine. it was founded by Harvey Kurtzman after he quit MAD magazine (the magazine he created) over a salary dispute. He dragged most of the pool of talent with him and shopped around and hooked up with James Warren (famous monsters, after hours, creepy, eerie, screen thrills, blazing combat, etc. etc.). There seems to be like minds at work here in this union. Photos of these guys together look like kindred bachelor spirits – pure hi-fi, martini’s, and broads. So, it was an interesting fit.

art chantry:gilliam did all sorts of freelance crap. he did greeting cards (like crumb) and you can also find some of his early cartoon strips in early issues of things like "CARtoons" and "SURFtoons" and "hot rod cartoons". magazines like that. his early comic style was already recognizable as what he later developed . pretty nifty. read more:!/photo.php?fbid=414833613872&set=a.313476963872.144857.608898872&type=1&theater

Harvey brought along his good pal, Harry Chester (the guy who was the designer of Mad and also of famous monsters) so he was likely the connecting point between some of these folks. Harvey also brought along his young assistant, a floating illustrator/cartoonist named Terry Gilliam (yup, THAT terry gilliam.) He also hired a talented young (and suitably gorgeous and well connected) beginning journalist named Gloria Steinem (yup, THAT gloria steinem). And that was just for starters.

The magazine was an ‘adult humor’ sort of magazine that relied heavily upon contributions from readership and pioneered a style of humor they christened: “fumetti”. It was a sort of cartoon strip using actual photographs taken on location with live performers depicting the scenes of each panel of the cartoon (rather than an illustration). They would later come in and add word balloons to tell the story dialog. It was a style of humor that was extremely popular around this time (the early 1960′s) with many small humor books where celebrity photos would be paired with word balloons as gag panel. (one such title was “who said that!?!” and another popular title was “look who’s talking!”. you get the picture). It was also a technique that lost it’s humorous novelty very quickly and soon died out, yet to be revived.

---HELP! MAGAZINE #6 Cover date: January 1961 68 pages Cover subject Jonathan Winters, worrying about atomic fallout on New Year’s Eve, with ingénue lead of FORCE OF IMPULSE, Teri Hope featured on the left hand side foreground of the cover. The lady standing up on the left hand side of the background is Ann Harris, then starring in PITY ME NOT. And a special note, the backside of Gloria Steinem is featured in the background of the right hand side of the cover. Gloria Steinem a cover girl, abet a back sided one.---Read More:

One of the really fascinating and rather stunning things about these fumetti projects was the talent they managed to bring in to their stories. Harvey Kurtzman’s reputation and Gloria Steinem’s connections brought in the very coolest of established humorists (sid caesar, ernie kovacs, steve allen, tom poston, dick van dyke, even jerry lewis) and then the coolest underground hip young unknowns and later huge stars (like mort sahl, lenny bruce, woody allen, and even a very young john cleese – who must have been terry gilliam’s connection to the yet-created monty python when gilliam skipped the country to avoid the draft).

Many of the other cartoonist humorists they also dragged over from MAD magazine. you’;ll the work of guys like Jack Davis and Mort Drucker and Don Martin popping up, doing “mature” humor for what may be the first time. it’s a delight.

Even more interesting are the reader/contributors. Robert Crumb first shows up in the letters column and the

arts sending in early comics. His very first published work was in HELP! (a ‘fritz the cat’ strip, i believe). Gilbert Shelton and other wondrous underground superstars began their published existence in HELP! as well. The magazine continued to publish young wannabes on a regular basis and you can almost literally find the birth of the entire next generation of cartoon humorists, solely due to HELP! it’s a pretty incredible thing to examine.

---Spanning 1960-65 — the time period between the close of Humbug and the creation of Little Annie Fanny for Playboy, Help! is not as well-regarded as the former or as slick and risque as the latter, but it’s notable for more than being Kurtzman’s longest running stint on a magazine after his departure from EC and Mad. For one thing, Kurtzman gathered an impressive array of talent around him while editing this thing (which, I should probably note for all you trivia buffs out there, was published by Warren). In addition to longtime stalwarts like Jack Davis and Will Elder, the magazine featured work by Will Eisner, Gahan Wilson, Shel Silverstein, John Severin, Arnold Roth, Ward Kimball and Al Jaffee.---Read More:

HELP! managed to hang in there a couple of years and then collapsed under it’s own financial losses. Kurtzman then moved on to Hugh Hefner’s empire (not a big logical stretch) and launched “TRUMP” magazine, which lasted three issues. TRUMP was an incredibly well produced beautifully printed magazine. Compared to the crappy newsprint stylings of Harry Chester’s work in HELP!, it’s a quantum leap in financial support, never mind that it almost immediately died out. Then Kurtzman was folded into the Playboy empire and started “little annie fanny.” So it goes.

This is the cover of issue number one of HELP!. It features the legendary Sid Caesar (who at that time was one of the most famous men in entertainment history). Note the delicious headline typography – pure Harry Chester (the best monster type lettering artist of all time!). I wish I could show you more, but I gave away my set of HELP! to an archivist and art historian who was desperately looking for a set of them. I figured it was where it belonged.

---Help Magazine issue #7 Cover date: February 1961 68 pages Cover subject Tom Poston, celebrating Valentine’s Day with a machine gun---Read More:


Read More: aaaa

---Help! is one of the legendary satirist Harvey Kurtzman's many post-MAD projects. It's noteworthy both for the celebrities of the era who appeared within its pages (friends of Kurtzman included Jackie Gleason and Dick Van Dyke) and has since become better known for the future celebrities it included among its staff & contributors (Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton, Jay Lynch, Skip Williamson, Woody Allen, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese & Gloria Steinem). If you think about it, without Help! there might never have been Monty Python, underground comix, Annie Hall or 2nd wave feminism!*---Read More:

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