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May 26, 2006

2006 Finger Nods: Kurtzman, Schwartz

The 2006 Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing will go to late writer, editor and artist Harvey Kurtzman and the author and writer Alvin Schwartz. The Finger Award program began in 2005 under the general supervision of comics writer, artist and historian Jerry Robinson to recognize writers for their contributions in a way Finger (1914-1974) was not. The inaugural awards went to Arnold Drake and Jerry Siegel.

imageAlvin Schwartz was a key writer on the Superman character, starting in the mid 1940s. He wrote the newspaper strip -- an underappreciated for making the character and its attendant ideas recognizeable worldwide -- and scripted many of the first features in his comics magazines. The press release from the awards program notes that Schwartz wrote the first tale of "Bizarro," a character who went on to star in some of the best mainstream comic books ever written and a concept that has found pop culture purchase in the decades since. The versatile Schwartz also worked on such titles as Buzzy, Fairy Tale Parade, Detective Comics, All Funny Comics, World's Finest and Superboy. He has since gone on to a prolific career as a writer of books; he also wrote movie scripts.

imageHarvey Kurtzman, one of the giants of comics history, according to the Finger Awards release began in comics the same year as Schwartz: 1939. He was the first editor and creator of Mad for EC Comics, writing the bulk of the seminal features himself. He also enjoyed a long run in the late 1940s and into the 1950s as a writer of the war comics, Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat. Those Kurtzman-written EC books are among the best-crafted in American comic book industry, and although maligned in some circles today as gussied-up pulp, their place on Best of Century lists is secure and they were undeniably sophisticated enough to enter into the discussion as precursors for the comics for adults that span bookshelves now. Kurtzman's EC run also distinguished the role of the comics writer as primary author, shaping and directing the artists and final product, leaving a personal imprint rather than absolving oneself after a script is handed in. Kurtzman enjoyed a long run writing the Playboy feature Little Annie Fanny and authored several books about cartoonists. He died in 1993.

This year's committee, chaired by Mark Evanier, was Jerry Robinson, Gerard Jones, Marv Wolfman and Charles Kochman. The awards are underwritten by major sponsor DC Comics and also supporting sponsors Comics Buyer's Guide, Heritage Auctions and TwoMorrows Publishing. The awards will be presented during the Eisner Awards ceremony on Friday, July 21, during Comic-Con International (a CR advertiser).
posted 1:26 am PST | Permalink

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