Saturday, January 29, 2005

EC - Man and Superman (Kurtzman)

One of the regular features of this weblog will be short comments on various EC comics stories of the 1950s. At a rate of one per week it should take me about 20 years to get through them all. So, y'know, more than one per week might be prudent...

Man and Superman
by Harvey Kurtzman
Weird Science #6 (1951)




An amusing story about Niels and Charlemange, an atomic scientist and his body-builder brother-in-law. Beginning with a version of the infamous Charles Atlas ad, with Charlemange in the role of the bully, while Niels talks scientific babble about how to increase the mass of objects. After he demonstrates his device to increase mass, Charlemange gets the idea to turn the device on himself to win body-building contest. What follows is a very funny extrapolation on the "real world" consequences of such powers.

I love Kurtzman's work on the short stories in the EC sci-fi/fantasy books, as much as I love his more famous work in MAD and the war books. He's very funny and inventive visually throughout, like the interesting sequence where Charlemange punches out a mugger, and there's a three-panel silent sequence of the mugger reeling from the punch.

It's also always fascinating when looking at Kurtzman art of the period how obviously influential he was on modern "alternative" comics. This particular story is full of bits that look exactly like early Dan Clowes work, as well as other modern cartoonists.

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