The last two issues of Help!, numbers 25 and 26, from 1965, have historic contents because of the early appearances of artists like Gilbert Shelton (“Wonder Warthog”) and R. Crumb (Zap Comix). Both artists went on to fame in underground comix. The last issue also featured an artist, Terry Gilliam, who went on to fame by moving to England and becoming part of the Monty Python troupe.
Crumb’s observations on Bulgaria are wryly humorous. By using straight-faced captions for his sketches, he shows the dichotomy of the Communist Party line of the worker's paradise, and the reality of how tough life was for the citizens in that era.
Help! #25, 1965:
Both Shelton and Terry Gilliam, with writer Dave Crossley, satirize the then-current Civil Rights movement in the South. In retrospect, they might border on tastelessness, but what they did for sure was name names. Crossley and Gilliam go after the Ku Klux Klan, and Shelton’s strip names Mississippi as a state with entrenched racism. I believe the Ku Klux Klan, which still exists, is mostly obsolete and superfluous in 2016, but racism still exists.
Help! #26, 1965:
I have wondered since buying these issues of Help! off the newsstands, and then to my disappointment having the title disappear, if Kurtzman’s work at Playboy contributed to the end of Help!. “Little Annie Fanny” is labor intensive. In the age of Photoshop where images can be manipulated by software, it is hard to understand how such artistry as Kurtzman, his friend and coworker Will Elder, and other artists as assistants at times, could produce something so epic. Kurtzman did the scripts as rough drawings, and then worked them to perfection on sheets of overlays, which artist Will Elder followed. Elder was known for his uncanny ability to duplicate the work of other artists, and in this particular strip from January, 1967, shows his multiple talents by duplicating the work of the pop artists of the era. All of it is colored with watercolors. If you look close you see Popeye, the Phantom, Krazy Kat, all done in loving detail. That is, if you can tear your eyes away from the nubile Annie. Artist Russ Heath is credited for assisting on the artwork.
Playboy January, 1967:
All of the artwork above is from the Internet Archive, and is copyright by respective copyright holders.