Hugh Hefner, cartoonist turned mogul, died yesterday in California. For quite some time his creation, Playboy Magazine was the alternate universe for a good number of New Yorker cartoonists. Beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s with other major cartoon markets folding, Playboy became the next best place for cartoonists to take their work; the decision to bring one’s cartoons there was, for most, economic, not editorial. Editorially, Playboy was definitely not the New Yorker (the best place to take one’s work) but it had in common with the New Yorker a number of elements attractive to cartoonists: the pay was good –second only to The New Yorker, and there was an orderly editorial system in place thanks to the steady presence of Michelle Urry, who presided as cartoon editor. Like the New Yorker, Playboy had a stable of cartoonists, some contracted with the magazine. As a monthly, the decision-making process wasn’t as fast-paced as the weekly New Yorker; the process further slowed by the need for all work to be approved by Mr. Hefner, the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief, who wasn’t in the magazine’s headquarters in Manhattan, but out west, living his well- publicized Hollywood dream.
There was plenty of spill-over from the New Yorker‘s stable to Playboy‘s, especially in the back of the book, where single panel cartoons were most prominent (full color, full-page cartoons by Playboy regulars threaded through the magazine). Hefner’s tastes in cartoons bore the stamp of his younger days; much of the magazine’s anchor material (those color pages) curiously kept that Eisenhower era look and feel well beyond the 1950s.
It was headline news when Playboy briefly ceased using cartoons (and abandoned nude photographs of women) but less newsworthy when both returned. There is at this point in time no next best place for cartoonists to bring their work once it’s been rejected by The New Yorker. Several eras of cartoonists were buoyed by Hefner’s magazine, itself a curio that perhaps could only have been dreamed up by a cartoonist.
An Ink Spill Exclusive: Tom Toro’s 4 Page Playboy Spread
Playboy‘s recently revived cartoon presence features Tom Toro in a big way, namely a four page spread in the July/August issue. Courtesy of Mr. Toro and Playboy, Ink Spill is pleased to show you the feature, “Travels With Toro” in its entirety (click on the work to enlarge):
Attempted Bloggery, Past & Present
Through the magic of Facebook or Twitter (can’t recall, and it’s not that important) I ran across mention of a three year old Attempted Bloggery post on the great artist Alajalov. So, belatedly, here it is, from June 14, 2014: “Summing Up Constantin Alajalov”
(pictured left: Mr. Alajalov)
…and posted more recently this interesting Attempted Bloggery piece about Ray Rohn, a New Yorker cover artist with one cover to his credit. “Ray Rohn: A Portrait of a Serviceman”
A New Case For Pencils with Daily Shouts artist, Joana Avillez
Jane Mattimoe’s latest Case For Pencils is up, with this look at Joana Avillez‘s tools of the trade. Ms. Avillez’s work has been seen on the New Yorker‘s Daily Shouts as well as in print on Shouts & Murmurs.
See it here!
Gil Roth continues his remarkable string of cartoonist/illustrator interviews — this week he speaks with the great R. O. Blechman. One of my all-time favorite Blechman New Yorker covers (and one of my favorite all-time New Yorker covers, period) is shown to the left. (photo credit: Gil Roth)
Listen to the podcast here.
Link here to Mr. Blechman’s website
With Esquire suddenly in the cartoon conversation, Mike Lynch takes a look at some of the work and cartoonists that appeared there in days of yore. Read it here.
And speaking of magazines that once ran cartoons, Playboy seemingly has recently returned to the fold. Tom Toro posted this cartoon on Instagram, writing, “My cartoon in the current issue of @playboy”:
The Cartoon Companion has returned with its customary grading system (1- 6). The issue includes drawings of gravestones, a priest, a sheepdog and William Shakespeare — not necessarily in that order.
Applause applause for the Bruce Eric Kaplan cover on this week’s issue. From this moment on Ink Spill will make special mention of covers by its regularly contributing cartoonists (a rarity in the post-Robert Gottlieb years).
Catching up on recent appearances: the last cover by one of the magazine’s stable of cartoonists was by Harry Bliss in April.
And before that, this one by Danny Shanahan in March of last year:
Over at The Comics Journal, R.C. Harvey has a wonderful article on the late Michelle Urry, who was Playboy‘s Cartoon Editor for many years. Read it here!
Playboy, until recently, the go-to place for many cartoonists after The New Yorker, has posted a short tribute:
“R.I.P. Jack Ziegler — A Cartoonist Who Moved Gracefully Between the ‘New Yorker’ and ‘Playboy'”
Hot on the heels of Liza Donnelly‘s historic appearance live Tweet-drawing at this years Oscars Awards (she was the first cartoonist ever invited to draw at that event) Ms. Donnelly has announced on Twitter that she will be live Tweet-drawing at the Tony Awards (held this year at the Beacon Theater).
R.C. Harvey has returned with another piece about Playboy‘s abandonment of cartoons. Interesting reading right here.