Friday, 16 May 2008

Will Elder 1921-2008



Will Elder, one of the greatest visual artists of the 20th Century, died yesterday.

Best known for his collaborations with Harvey Kurtzman for Mad, Trump, Humbug, Help! and Playboy, his work was filled with richly detailed lunacy. Never content to draw one gag where twenty could squeeze in, he must have been the  hardest working man in comics.

There is nothing relaxed about his work. Intense to look at, it looks as though it was an intense experience to create. I admire his achievement enormously.

More on Journalista with further links, including to his own site willelder.net.

May I also recommend some books, starting with Will Elder, The Mad Playboy of Art, a hefty volume brimful of riches. Also a slim follow up of curiosities that didn't make it into the big book, Chicken Fat, both published by Fantagraphics. Also from that corner, The Comics Journal No. 254 devoted 59 pages to a richly illustrated interview with the man. Out of print, but available at a reasonable price, Goodman Beaver, a collection of the legendary satirical strip by Kurtzman and Elder. And from the pages of Playboy, a Goodman Beaver with breasts, Little Annie Fanny, volume 1 and volume 2. Also, the Denis Kitchen Art Agency has some original Will Elder art for sale, all from Goodman Beaver.

Above: a young Elder tries on his wings, from Will Elder, The Mad Playboy of Art.
Below: Self portrait on the cover of issue 254 of The Comics Journal.
Images copyright © 2003 Will Elder.




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