Sunday, 21 October 2007

Flogging a Horse that is Not So Much Dead as Absent Altogether

Coincidence strikes. No sooner do I make one (erroneous) post about comic strips in Playboy that I find this when sitting down with a copy of Jules Feiffer’s America - From Eisenhower To Reagan (edited by Steven Heller, Alfred A Knopf, 1982):

"In 1958, my first collection of cartoons was published, on the basis of which Hugh Hefner offered me $500 a month to draw for Playboy. Since the [Village] Voice still did not pay contributors, it was the first regular money I made doing the work I cared about. My attitude was often non-Playboy or anti-Playboy. Rather than object, Hefner suggested ways of making my points stronger. In addition to his better-known qualities, he was a wonderful cartoon editor, the best I’ve ever had."

That last encomium seems all the more remarkable when we remember that Feiffer’s very first “cartoon editor”, back when he was working on Clifford for The Spirit Section, would have been Will Eisner. But, then again, I assume that Feiffer would have been paid for Clifford and his Spirit scripts, so this may just be a case of conveniently ignoring a professional pre-history which wouldn’t fit with the marketing of Jules Feiffer’s America as a 25th anniversary volume. Or maybe Hefner really was a better cartoon editor than Eisner. Perhaps he could have had a second career at the Kubert school of cartooning if the whole porn-mag-and-men’s-clubs empire had failed.

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