Monday, January 29, 2007

It's Good to Be King

I got a call Sunday morning from cartoonist Jerry King. I’d made an inquiry to the Humorous Maximus website (run by Jerry and fellow cartoonist Dan Thompson) about using some of my cartoons. Jerry called to let me know they were interested in my work and we had a really nice (long) chat.

I’d never met Jerry before Sunday, but I’d admired his work for years. I first noticed his greeting card gags back in the late 1980s when I was submitting card concepts to West Graphics, now owned by Kalan. And Jerry’s only gotten better. His style is immediately recognizable and the best thing about his work is its immediacy, simplicity, and the fact that it’s just so damn funny. Jerry King draws funny. Even before you read the caption, you start to smile because the way he draws makes you laugh.

Jerry’s also prolific. Way prolific. I’m not talking "cartoon a day" prolific. I’m talking "cartoon an hour." Jerry can crank out 8-to-10 high-level, A-material cartoons a day. And he does, pretty much day after day. He truly is the King of cartooning, and I don’t feel worthy to refill his mechanical pencil.

Check out Jerry’s cartoons at his site and on Humorous Maximus:

Jerry is a pioneer in online cartooning and supplies material to a large number of website clients, in addition to his print customers. He’s also a regular contributor to Playboy, the Holy Grail of cartoon markets (along with The New Yorker).

Speaking of Playboy, Jerry offered an amusing anecdote. I’d read that Hugh Hefner used to personally choose the cartoons for the magazine, and apparently that’s still the case. He puts his initials on each rough he approves and it’s sent back to the cartoonist with a request for finished art. I wonder if each month’s playmate also gets an "HH" written on her shapely derrière once she’s been okayed by the boss.

Here’s my own Hefner anecdote, and it’s not nearly as cool as Jerry’s, but it is sort of funny.

My mom’s second husband, Keith, grew up in Illinois and he and his brother knew Hefner in the early 1950s. Hef had published a book of cartoons titled That Toddlin’ Town, but his real dream was to start a magazine. He was looking for investors and needed about a $1000 per person.

Now a thousand bucks was a lot of money back then, but not an insurmountable sum. Keith’s brother scraped together his grand, but Keith was reluctant. He didn’t think it was a particularly sound investment, so he passed. I’m sure you know what magazine Hefner ended up publishing.
Keith’s brother made a (not so) small fortune from his initial investment and, as a perk, got to ride on the Playboy jet and go to the Playboy clubs.

What did Keith get? A free subscription to Playboy, which I imagine his brother wrangled for him.

And there you have it. The story of the only guy in history who had the chance to invest in Playboy and DIDN’T.

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