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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

EC - The Time Machine and the Shmoe (Kurtzman)

The Time Machine and the Shmoe
by Harvey Kurtzman
Weird Fantasy #17[#5] (1951)

This is a really fun Kurtzman effort from the early New Trend, giving some hints of the type of story he would start concentrating on the next year with MAD, with the quirky ideas and silly humour.

The story opens with some bad physics as a scientist explains how going faster than light will enable you to catch up with light and go back in time. Janitor Donald Yubyatch overhears this and expresses interest, but is mocked by the scientists. He decides to steal the machine, go back to the day of King Arthur with modern technology so he can rule them. Lacking funds and foresight, he takes along a toy gun and model plane kit and a radio, figuring that he can use them to extrapolate the full technology.

The machine works, surprisingly enough, but Donald's lack of foresight comes back to haunt him, and he winds up just as much a schmoe in the past as he was in the present.

Kurtzman's art is always fascinating to see in these early stories. Very bold and with a lot of small storytelling experiments throughout. And of course writing and drawing himself these are the EC stories where the writing and art are the most fully integrated and never seem to be working at cross-purposes.

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