Playboy Or Not?

April 30, 2010

On Being Rejected By “Hef”

Back in the 1980s and ’90s when I was trying to become a magazine cartoonist and having only moderate success at venues such as  Saturday Evening Post, TV Guide, and Writer’s Digest, the publication I really wanted to crack was Playboy. Next to the New Yorker (which rejects just about everybody), Playboy was one of the highest paying magazines still in the gag cartooning game. The problem was I had no idea how to write a sexy caption or draw a sexy woman. But the money was good, so I decided to try anyway and hope that Hugh Hefner, the magazine’s founder and editor, would find my subtle attempts at fleshy humor appealing. After all, I thought, the man’s not just a booty-hound, he’s also claims to be an intellectual—all you had to do was read his essays in the magazine to know that. But as it turned out selling him one (or more) of my cartoons was not to be. (Click the letter to enlarge.)

Prior to receiving that letter I had been encouraged when the long-time cartoon editor of Playboy, Michelle Urry, “held” some images from three “batches” I submitted each month. So I knew that Hefner’s gatekeeper appreciated my indirect take when it came to male lust; she liked my gags enough to show them to her boss. Several months went by before I heard the final verdict, which you see above.

I showed the no-sale note to a feminist-Marxist friend of mine, just for laughs. She promptly displayed her sharp radical-chic sense of humor by scrawling the note in the upper right corner of the letter. Her comment alone made my efforts worthwhile.

Below are three rejected cartoons from one of the 1997 batchs of ten monthly cartoon ideas. You be the judge—are they Playboy-worthy?

To purchase reprint rights for these and many other of my cartoons, visit my archive at cartoonstock.com

Copyright © 2010 Jim Sizemore.

Hands

April 13, 2009

boa1

garybase1

clown1

elbert1

If you’re an artist, or have ever tried to become one, you know that the part of the human body hardest to draw is the hand. You can always spot an artist-wannabe when they present “finished art” wherein the hands of the people are hidden in some way—either in pockets, behind backs, under the table, etc., etc. A confident artist, on the other hand (sorry, couldn’t resist it), doesn’t hide hands because he or she has, to at least some degree, mastered their depiction. Actually, the skillful artist loves to draw hands because they know that after the human face, hands are the most expressive parts of the body, especially when it comes to gestures. On the other other hand, some newbie artists give up the game in frustration once they discover the difficulty of drawing hands. Many of those creative folks become photographers instead—as did Yours Truly, at least for a time. Or they try their own hands at cartooning (ditto), where the graphic standards are much lower, especially these days. (See my own limited efforts on this blog, and the many crudely drawn “Post Modern” gag examples in the New Yorker. BTW, the term “Post Modern,” as I understand how it applies to cartooning, means crudely drawn on purpose. The idea is to make an up to date graphic statement “against” professional slickness. Meanwhile, I’ve spent many years trying to become professionally slick. It’s all very confusing.)

Copyright © 2009 Jim Sizemore.