Since the girls are gone for a couple of days, I am in Unemployed-Until-January Bachelor mode today.
This means that I slept in, and that upon waking I was allowed to relish the rare opportunity to lie about in bed and read something without needing to rush off to something or other.
Since it is a mini-bachelor holiday, the idea of pulling something Playboy-related off my “to be read” shelf seemed to be appropriate. I refer, of course, to the marvelous three-volume collection Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years of Playboy Cartoons.
I picked this up earlier this month on a Beguiling run, and it’s been sitting on the shelf taunting me ever since–despite what you may think, this life of temporary unemployment hasn’t exactly been full of reading leisure time.
I could talk about who Wilson is, but let’s be honest here–even if you don’t think you know who he is, as soon as you see a couple of the images you’ll know who he is. I think it actually might be impossible for anyone currently an adult to have not seen his quite distinctive art style in several places, and I suspect that most people actually reading this blog will already be familiar with him and his work. I mean when you’ve been published regularly in several venues for more than half a century, people know you even if they don’t know it.
I could talk about the wonderful production job Fantagraphics did on this collection, but it’s probably more useful to point you to the page at their site for the book, which has an embedded video that shows off the set and some of the feature, or to point you to the production notes at their blog, which has lots of design porn info and photos.
All of that, though, is secondary to the contents of the books. This morning I went through the first volume (“1957-1973”) and enjoyed it tremendously. I’ve picked out a couple of early favourites to show you below, and Fantagraphics has made a PDF preview available with another 20+ images (there’s one overlap between what I picked to show off, and their preview.) If the quality of the other two volumes matches what was in the first one, I’ll be thrilled with this purchase. I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading the second book before sleep tonight.
I think this one might have been my absolute favourite from the first volume–it’s from very early in the collection:
Upon seeing this one, which is amusing enough in it’s original context, I couldn’t help but think that it also makes a fairly stinging movie review:
This one caught my fancy because it reminds me of the small Alan Moore “shrine” I had in the old house, and which I will presumably get around to setting up in this one someday.
The vast majority of the images in the first volume are full-page, full colour1, but not all of them. There are a few examples of line art, often two-to-a-page. This is one of those, and one that addresses a theological problem that has served as source material for a lot of jokes:
There are also some full-page line art pieces. I quite like this one–it tweaks my Malaclypse The Younger buttons, you know?
And now, off to bed and a review of the second volume.
- Actually, Hefner notes in the intro to the first volume that he restricted Wilson’s palette, but the images aren’t black and white, or one colour washes, or anything.(back)