By Leroy Douresseaux
November 8, 2004 - 15:11
THE CLASSIC PIN-UP ART OF JACK COLE - collection
SUBJECT: Jack Cole
EDITOR: Alex Chun
100 pp.; Color and B&W; $19.95; hardcover
Many know Jack Cole as the creator of Plastic Man, although DC Comics won't allow a creator credit for Cole in Kyle Baker's current Plastic Man series. Cole is also known as the cartoonist who defined the look of the Playboy cartoon with his idiosyncratic line drawings and his sumptuous and sensual watercolors. Cole rose to stardom in the 1950's under the guidance of Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner. Sadly, Cole took his own life at the age of 43 in August of 1958.
However, before he made it to the big time, Cole drew cartoons for Humorama, Inc.'s line of girlie digests. Although the company published risqué cartoons and cheesecake photos of the likes of Bettie Page, Humorama publisher Abe Goodman bought cartoons from a number of comic book artist luminaries for his pulp mags. Cole drew just under 100 pinups for Humorama, and THE CLASSIC PIN-UP ART OF JACK COLE collects the best of the lot.
A few of the cartoons here were drawn with a fluid and languid line, but the best of the book is exemplified in Cole's lush ink wash drawings. Cole used the technique to create drawings that have a dreamy sexuality that literally breathes on the page. I must admit to finding many of the ink wash drawings...arousing and erotic.
In less than a year, Alex Chun has edited two fabulous collections of Humorama pin-up art, this book and the absolutely fabulous The Glamour Girls of Bill Ward. With his concise and informative introductions to the Ward book and this Cole collection, Chun can now be considered the savior of an under-appreciated American art form, pin-up illustrations, which were often found in an overlooked format, pulp magazines. Either there is an Eisner Award coming Chun's way or Mr. Eisner should consider removing his name from the awards. A