Telling You, Man

Today on the site, R.C. Harvey presents a piece from his vault -- his account of, and interview with, cartoon editor Michelle Urry.

Harvey:Did you have anything to do with Harvey Kurtzman?

Urry: I did. For a little while, I was the intermediary between Hef and Harvey. Harvey and Hef worked out their deal together originally, and they drove each other a little crazy— and whoever was functioning as their intermediary.Harvey would submit his ideas, and Hef would send it back with comments, and—

Harvey: They strike me as both being very exacting people.

Urry: They were— very specific. And they were very different, each in his own way. But I think they loved each other for a long time, and then Harvey became a little more conservative. Perhaps he played it a little safer than he really should have. While he was doing Mad magazine, he was as zany as could be. And he started doing his own thing, and then he got into Hef’s turf.

Harvey was interested in satire and wit, political and social commentary. So Harvey started doing political and sexual humor. And Hef knew a lot about the sex part, and Harvey didn’t. Harvey was married and had kids. Hef had lots of ideas, and Harvey would go to the Mansion and look at the hot tubs. There was a slight discrepancy between life styles. Harvey lived in a suburban house. And Hef was constantly pushing him. Harvey would say— There’s too much sex; and Hef would say— More sex. Harvey would say, Less sex. Hef would say, More sex. And they’d go back and forth. But Harvey— Hef found him early and they bonded, and nobody could really get in the middle of that.

Harvey: How about Will Elder?

Urry: He went along. He contributed his talent and did what Harvey wanted. I’m not saying he wasn’t brilliant and didn’t contribute to that strip. He was and he did. That strip cost a bloody fortune! All the people working on it— all the inkers. They always had three or four or five people on it. Always. It was like producing a small book every time they would do it. Brilliant work. Absolutely brilliant.

Harvey: Too bad it’s not there anymore.

Urry: Too bad Harvey’s not here anymore. People say, Why don’t you get somebody else to keep it going? That’s like saying, Get somebody else to do Pogo.


My Favorite Thing is Monsters reviewed at Hyperallergic.

A truly rare thing: a new comic book store is opening up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.