There's much to love about Denis Kitchen and Paul Buhle's The Art of Harvey Kurtzman. Kitchen is probably the most qualified person in the world to write this book; Kitchen Sink Press published numerous Kurtzman books (collections of Hey Look! and Goodman Beaver, a new edition of Jungle Book) before the artist's death in 1993, and Kitchen currently functions as the literary agent for the Kurtzman estate. In other words: Kitchen knew Kurtzman well, he had keys to the archive, and as a result Art is generously packed with obscure and previously unseen Kurtzman work. Paul Buhle, professor emeritus of American Civilization at Brown University, contributes a deep understanding of the social milieu--the leftist, American-Yiddish microcosm that thrived in New York City and its environs--that Kurtzman was born into and that would shape his life and art ever after.
That's not to say, however, that Art is a perfect book. On the Comics Journal message board, Pat Ford referred to Art as a "hybrid" between an art book and a biography, like Mark Evanier's Kirby: King of Comics, but this hybrid approach runs the risk of "neither-fish-nor-fowlness," where neither the words nor the pictures are as comprehensive as they ought to be. The illustrations in Art are magnificent, but after reading (and not just staring at) Art, I found a few subjects that Kitchen and Buhle should have discussed in more detail. Below are three questions that I wish they had answered in Art.