Even More Playboy Cartoons for a Festive Mood!

« Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas. You know, the birth of Santa? » – Matt Groening

We’re back with another piping hot batch of Holiday cartoons from the pages of Playboy. I have striven mightily to represent most of the big guns (Kiraz and Smilby are among the missing — better luck next year, gents!) whilst keeping it to a tidy, cherry-picked dozen. One can only take so many ‘Randy Santa’ gags, even when they’re lavishly illustrated… that’s only a fraction of the culling process.

An early one by John Dempsey (1919-2002); it appeared in Playboy’s January, 1961 issue (what gave it away?)
Austrian master Erich Sokol (1933-2003) shared his playful erotic visions with the readers of Playboy from 1958 to 1975, when he returned to his homeland, and again from 1992 until his passing. This one’s pleasantly gentle and understated.
Readers of this blog will already know that Leo ‘Dink’ Siegel (1910-2003) is a favourite of mine. I showcased some of his Playboy work last year in Dink Siegel’s Swingin’ Roommates. Now *this* particular bit of impending marital strife and comeuppance appeared in the January, 1972 issue of the magazine.
Mighty Texan Rowland B. Wilson (1930-2005) was a dazzlingly-skilled illustrator and animator, as evidenced by this late-70s piece. His association with the magazine was long and fruitful. To wit, « on the day of his death, a sketch for a new Playboy cartoon still lay on his drawing board. »
Second only to Saucy Santa jokes were the Scrooge sex jokes. But Eldon Dedini (1921-2006) really nails this one, from the pages of Playboy’s December, 1980 edition. And for your further edification, here’s my co-admin ds’ fond salute to this lovely, talented man.
Sure, we love Bernard Kliban (1935-1990)’s cats, but I’m frankly more partial to his anarchic, surreal, free-form wit. This sweet slice of… well, just desserts saw print in Playboy’s December, 1981 delivery.
Hardly-frosty Ontarian Doug Sneyd (1931–) has his go at Charles Dickens’ moral fable, with pretty solid (or so Ebezener hopes!) results. Mr. Sneyd knows his antiques, that’s evident.
Dog aficionados everywhere best know Charles Barsotti (1933-2014) for his canine cartoons. This habitué of The New Yorker magazine (from 1970) also created several comics strips, was cartoon editor of The Saturday Evening Post, and generally a hard-working, genial man of tremendous talent. This lovely panel was buried near the back of Playboy’s December, 1982 issue.
Phil Interlandi (1924-2002) sold his first cartoon to Playboy in 1955, just a couple of years into the magazine’s existence. He soon had earned his permanent spot in the roster. Here he contributes his bit of Dickensian sauciness to the canon.
Among the Playboy cartoonists, Gahan Wilson (1930-2019) surely was the one most left to his own devices, and wisely so. He created scores of gleefully macabre Christmas cartoons for the magazine, but this one’s a real standout. Every element counts. Exemplary cartooning from the December, 1987 Playboy. And beware — more Gahan awaits you here.
Certainly a cut above the usual ‘Lascivious Saint Nick’ fare, this lush piece by Robert ‘Buck’ Brown came along in Playboy’s December, 1988 issue. Pray note the fretful reindeer peering over the roof’s edge. That’s cartooning!
While he’s mostly renowned for his work in The New Yorker (which continues to this day), Bill Woodman (1939 –) also contributed (this beauty, among others) to Playboy. From the December, 1988 issue. Yeah, our cats too.

And that’s our crop for this year… hope your holidays are bright and merry, under the circumstances. Joyeux Noël, one and all!

-RG

think small!

« It did not occur to me that I might be a writer until I flunked out of my first year as a chemistry major, and found work as an apprentice writer of Volkswagen ads. » — Peter Carey

Ah, the delicate art of the soft sell.

You’ve surely heard of the Doyle Dane Bernbach agency’s revolutionary think small campaign for Volkswagen, launched in 1959. You haven’t? Well, it’s only considered, by its industry, to be the greatest advertising campaign of the 20th century.

Until the Beetle hit the market, automotive marketing copy was full of bluster, and the images (often illustrated) were flights of fancy, emphasizing low, long lines and a fantasy lifestyle.

The clean, simple photography on a white background that emphasized the Beetle’s compact, practical form may seem commonplace these days, but it was a revolution in a world where Americans grew up obsessed with muscle cars, horsepower, and tire smoke. Making the car small, when the convention was to make it fill the page, was also novel. The simplistic approach to design and layout was totally contrary to the advertising conventions of the time. [ source ]

While I object to the misuse of the rather pejorative “simplistic” to denote what is instead commendably stripped down, uncluttered, or if one must, ‘simple‘… that’s the gist of it. After all, these folks are gearheads, not graphic designers.

One of the lesser-known components of the long-running campaign was a nifty 1967 promotional book that was graciously given away by one’s friendly Volkswagen dealer.

They gathered all the big guns and asked them to think small. Illustration by Charles Addams.

Let’s take a look inside.

One by perennial bon vivant Eldon Dedini, working one of his pet motifs, but with his customary panache. Under Eldon’s pen, the car’s lines acquire a lusty fluidity.
A beauty by local favourite Virgil Partch (1916-1984). Such a graceful line the man had. Simple… not simplistic!
Don’t be confused: like the Porsche and the Corvair, the VW Beetle’s trunk is located in the front of the vehicle. Cute details: the booted husband’s still-smoking pipe and his glasses remain in the garage. VIP delivers, as usual. Read how he met his demise.
An adorable entry from long-time The New Yorker cartoonist Henry Martin, who passed away last June at the age of 94. I can just hear the German accent.
Another Playboy regular, Phil Interlandi (1924-2002) stretches out a bit, and very successfully at that.
Yet another WOT favourite, Gahan Wilson (1930-2019). Here’s a birthday homage I wrote a little while back.
One from the book’s royal guest, Charles Addams (1912-1988). It’s a fine joke, but I find that many people don’t get it; it would have benefitted from a more vertical composition. Still, trust Uncle Fester to know what’s going down.
A second dose of Mr. Addams. I wasn’t going to say no to a giant mutated toad and toadstool. Here’s our earlier sampler of his macabre wit, from (un)naturally, our first Hallowe’en Countdown.
The couple of decades he spent drawing his successful syndicated strip about unceasing marital strife, The Lockhorns (whose début came the following year!) have perhaps dimmed the critical reputation of William ‘Bill’ Hoest (1926-1988). But he was quite good, when given a chance to stretch out a bit. It’s been since proven that women are the better drivers, incidentally.
And finally, a bat-entry from John Gallagher (1926-2005), a then-ubiquitous panel gag cartoonist in many of the biggest names in magazines: Collier’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Look, True… I love the absurd size ratio between the members of The Dynamic Duo. That’s one sidekick you could accidentally kick aside!

-RG