Bernard W. Shir-Cliff, an editor for Ballantine Books, Contemporary Books, Warner Books and other publishers, also translated books and later became a well-known literary agent. As a senior editor at Warner Books, he was responsible for the huge publishing success of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, which she writes about in her autobiography, All in a Lifetime (2001).
As the editor at Ballantine in the 1950s and 1960s, he handled the Zacherley anthologies, the paperback of Hunter Thompson's Hell's Angels, Harvey Kurtzman's The Mad Reader and other early Mad paperbacks. He made four contributions to Mad and also contributed to other magazines edited by Kurtzman, such as "The Karate Lesson" in Kurtzman's Help! (October 1964). He satirized Sports Illustrated in the second issue of Kurtzman's Trump.
In 1956 he edited the humor anthology, The Wild Reader (Ballantine), featuring essays, poems and satirical pieces by Robert Benchley, Art Buchwald, Tom Lehrer, John Lardner, Shepherd Mead, Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber and others. The 154-page paperback was illustrated with cartoons by Kelly Freas who also did the front cover.
The screenplay of Roger Vadim's Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1959) was translated by Shir-Cliff for publication by Ballantine in 1962. He also was the co-translator with Oscar De Liso of the screenplay for Federico Fellini's La Dolce Vita (Ballantine, 1961).
In the early 1980s, when he was editor-in-chief of Warner Books, Shir-Cliff commented on the publishing recession and lower reprint prices:
Until his recent retirement, Shir-Cliff was an agent handling such books as John R. Dann's Song of the Earth (2006).
Alfred E. Neuman is the fictitious mascot and cover boy of the American humor magazine Mad. The character's face had drifted through U.S. iconography for decades (it appeared in the early 1930s on a presidential campaign postcard with the caption, "Sure I'm for Roosevelt") before being claimed by Mad editor Harvey Kurtzman in 1954 and later named by the magazine's second editor Al Feldstein in 1956. Since his debut in Mad, Neuman's likeness has appeared on the cover of all but a handful of the magazine's 550+ issues, distinguished by jug ears, a missing front tooth, and one eye lower than the other. His face is rarely seen in profile; he has virtually always been shown in front view, directly from behind, or in silhouette.Ballantine Books
Ballantine Books is a major book publisher located in the United States, founded in 1952 by Ian Ballantine with his wife, Betty Ballantine. It was acquired by Random House in 1973, which in turn was acquired by Bertelsmann in 1998 and remains part of that company today. Ballantine's logo is a pair of mirrored letter Bs back to back. The firm's early editors were Stanley Kauffmann and Bernard Shir-Cliff.Childhood's End
Childhood's End is a 1953 science fiction novel by the British author Arthur C. Clarke. The story follows the peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule, at the cost of human identity and culture.
Clarke's idea for the book began with his short story "Guardian Angel" (published in New Worlds #8, winter 1950), which he expanded into a novel in 1952, incorporating it as the first part of the book, "Earth and the Overlords". Completed and published in 1953, Childhood's End sold out its first printing, received good reviews and became Clarke's first successful novel. The book is often regarded by both readers and critics as Clarke's best novel and is described as "a classic of alien literature". Along with The Songs of Distant Earth (1986), Clarke considered Childhood's End to be one of his favourites of his own novels. The novel was nominated for the Retro Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2004.
Several attempts to adapt the novel into a film or miniseries have been made with varying levels of success. Director Stanley Kubrick expressed interest in the 1960s, but collaborated with Clarke on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) instead. The novel's theme of transcendent evolution also appears in Clarke's Space Odyssey series. In 1997, the BBC produced a two-hour radio dramatization of Childhood's End that was adapted by Tony Mulholland. The Syfy Channel produced a three-part, four-hour television mini-series of Childhood's End, which was broadcast on December 14–16, 2015.Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book
Harvey Kurtzman's Jungle Book is a graphic novel by American cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman, published in 1959. Kurtzman aimed it at an adult audience, in contrast to his earlier work for adolescents in periodicals such as Mad. The social satire in the book's four stories targets Peter Gunn-style private-detective shows, Westerns such as Gunsmoke, capitalist avarice in the publishing industry, Freudian pop psychology, and lynch-hungry yokels in the South. Kurtzman's character Goodman Beaver makes his first appearance in one of the stories.
Kurtzman created the satirical Mad in 1952, but left its publisher EC Comics in 1956 after a dispute over financial control. After two failed attempts with similar publications, Kurtzman proposed Jungle Book as an all-original cartoon book to Ballantine Books to replace its successful series of Mad collections, which had moved to another publisher. Ballantine accepted Kurtzman's proposal, albeit with reservations about its commercial viability. It was the first mass-market paperback of original comics published in the United States. Though it was not a financial success, Jungle Book attracted fans and critics for its brushwork, satirical adult-oriented humor, experimental dialogue balloons, and adventurous page and panel designs.Help! (magazine)
Help! is an American satire magazine that was published by James Warren from 1960 to 1965. It was Harvey Kurtzman's longest-running magazine project after leaving Mad and EC Publications, and during its five years of operation it was chronically underfunded, yet innovative.
In starting Help!, Kurtzman brought along several artists from his Mad collaborations, including Will Elder, Jack Davis, John Severin and Al Jaffee.
Kurtzman's assistants included Charles Alverson, Terry Gilliam and Gloria Steinem; the latter was helpful in gathering the celebrity comedians who appeared on the covers and the fumetti strips the magazine ran along with more traditional comics and text pieces. Among the then little-known performers in the fumetti were John Cleese, Woody Allen and Milt Kamen; better-known performers such as Orson Bean were also known to participate. Some of the fumetti were scripted by Bernard Shir-Cliff.
At Help!, Gilliam met Cleese for the first time, resulting in their collaboration years later on Monty Python's Flying Circus. Cleese appeared in a Gilliam fumetto written by David Crossley, "Christopher's Punctured Romance". The tale concerns a man who is shocked to learn that his daughter's new "Barbee" doll has "titties"; however, he falls in love with the doll and has an affair. Gilliam appeared on two covers of Help! and along with the rest of the creative team, appeared in crowd scenes in several fumetti.
The magazine introduced young talents who went on to influential careers in underground comix as well as the mainstream: among them Robert Crumb, Gilbert Shelton and Jay Lynch. Algis Budrys and other science fiction writers were regular contributors of prose and scripts to the magazine.
Working with a minimal budget, Kurtzman relied on a combination of cheap up-and-coming talent, favors called in to "name" friends (such as cover poses by Jackie Gleason, Mort Sahl or Jerry Lewis) and inexpensive page-fillers (such as inserting dialogue balloons into news photos and publicity stills).
Somewhat more adult and risque than Mad, Help! was nonetheless less sexually explicit or taboo-breaking than the contemporaneous The Realist or the later underground comix and National Lampoon were or would be. Nonetheless, it had its moments and served as a locus and starting point for a wide range of talent.
A total of 26 issues were printed before the magazine folded in 1965. Volume one (Aug. 1960–Sept. 1961) had 12 issues, and 14 issues comprised the second volume (Feb. 1962–Sept. 1965).Nick Meglin
Nick Meglin (July 30, 1935 – June 2, 2018) was an American writer, humorist, and artist. He was known for his work as a contributor, comics writer, illustrator and editor for the satirical magazine Mad. He also scripted Superfan, a 1970s comic strip by Jack Davis. He was active as a lyricist of musical theatre, and had columns in various specialized magazines about culture and sports.Sergio Aragonés
Sergio Aragonés Domenech (; born September 6, 1937) is a Spanish/Mexican cartoonist and writer best known for his contributions to Mad magazine and creating the comic book Groo the Wanderer.
Among his peers and fans, Aragonés is widely regarded as "the world's fastest cartoonist". The Comics Journal has described Aragonés as "one of the most prolific and brilliant cartoonists of his generation". Mad editor Al Feldstein said, "He could have drawn the whole magazine if we'd let him."