Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, and Gary Groth Talk Humbug at The Strand

Categories:  Features

[Left to Right: Arnold Roth, Gary Groth, and Al Jaffee]

Of course it takes a special occasion to get Art Spiegelman, Adriane Tomine, Evan Dorkin, Bob Fingerman, R. Sikoyak, and a handful of fellow New York comics luminaries to forgo the warmth of their respective burroughs, braving the mid-April drizzle to sit amongst The Strand bookstore’s folding chairs.

For his part, Fantagraphics head honcho Gary Groth flew in from the publisher’s home in the scenic northwest to emcee the event—a celebration of Humbug Magazine’s rerelease in the form of two hardbound volumes, the first time the short-lived humor magazine has seen the light of day since its original year-long run in the late-50s.

Groth was flanked by two of the medium’s all-time greats—Al Jaffee and Arnold Roth, who, along with Harvey Kurtzman, Will Elder, and Jack Davis formed formed the principle cast of Humbug, Kurtzman’s “adult” satire magazine formed in the wake of his exit from Mad and the subsequent immediate folding of the Hugh Hefner-back Trump.

It was the late-Elder, however, who took center stage at the top of the event, in the form of an as-of-yet unfinished documentary directed and screen by the artist’s son-in-law, Gary VandenBergh. The filmmaker thanked his family, seated directly in the front of the projector screen and fired up the short film, only to postpone it so after, thanks to DVD-related technical difficulties.

Roth, Groth, and Jaffee picked up where the film left off, seated behind a trio of mics and copies of the new book, recounting the brief ups and downs of Humbug. Groth happily took a backseat during the proceedings, seated between two natural born storytellers and consummate humorists. The duo talked Mad and Playboy and Stan Lee and the insane genius of their fellow cartoonist. The chat, sadly, was fairly short-lived, lasting around half-an-hour, audience questions included.

Things wrapped up shortly after, with the final scenes from the Elder documentary. The night was short, funny, and fascinating–in all a fairly fitting tribute to the magazine it was meant to honor.

[Full Audio of the Event]

[More Flickr Images]

[More Videos]

Interview with Al Jaffee Partts One, Two, and Three

Interview with Arnold Roth Parts One, Two, and Three

–Brian Heater

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3 Comments to “Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth, and Gary Groth Talk Humbug at The Strand”

  1. BobH | April 16th, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    “It was the late-Elder, however, who took center stage at the top of the event, in the form of an as-of-yet unfinished documentary directed and screen by the artist’s son-in-law, Mark Evanier.”

    I’m more than 99% certain there’s something wrong there…

    Gary VandenBergh, I think you mean.

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