Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jack Cole, best known as a cartoon artist in Playboy and for Plastic Man, bicycled solo cross-country at age 17 to Los Angeles, California and back.

He wanted to see the 1932 Olympics so bad, that after getting out of class on the last day of his junior year of high school, he hopped on his bike and headed west from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles. 3 months on the road, 5 bike tires, 40 dollars, and he wrote it up later in a news paper article in 1935. He biked back too, and had returned in time for the start of school, his senior year.

He paid for the Landon School of Illustration and Cartooning correspondence course with his lunch  money too.


Graphically inventive and prone to wild flights of surreal visual hilarity, Cole predated the wit and frenetic comic intensity of Mad magazine and was instrumental in creating the irresistibly lurid crime and horror comic books that provoked the anti-comics hysteria of the same decade.

The sight gags in Plasticman are famous among cartoons, as Plasticman could spread himself over any object to blend in so crooks couldn't see him, except the colors were always red, black, and yellow.

He later worked with Will Eisner on the Spirit, then in 1954 went to work for Hugh Hefner and Playboy

After having drawn slightly risqué, single-panel "good girl art" cartoons for magazines, using the pen name "Jake", Cole was hired by Heff.

Under his own name, he produced full-page, watercolored gag cartoons of beautiful but dim girls and rich but equally dim old men. Cole's art first appeared in the fifth issue; he would have at least one piece published in Playboy each month until his suicide in 1958.

So popular was his work that the second item of merchandise ever licensed by Playboy (after cufflinks with the famous rabbit-head logo) was a cocktail-napkin set, "Females by Cole", featuring his cartoons.


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