The Artbook Review #4 - The Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole
By M.S. Feather 11 Comments
By Fantagraphics Books 2004.
Jack Kirby Hall of Famer, Will Eisner stand-in and Playboy illustrator; Jack Cole was one of the comic industries biggest talents and certainly proved to be one of the most diverse. He pushed the envelope with mature pulps like Murder, Morphine & Me during a time when the medium was considered to be primarily for children, he authored a newspaper strip and various small funnies throughout his career and he created one of the most profitable and memorable characters of his day, Plastic Man.
Today however, we’ll be looking into a collection of some of his more erotic work. Art that Hugh Hefner, the Playboy himself, found so humorous and eye appealing that he featured it regularly in his then budding magazine.
Before we dive into the fun I’d like to mention the Introduction of this book. It was written by editor Jack Chun and features a very well written and a fairly in-depth look into the artists life and techniques. I learned some details within its paragraphs that I’d never picked up from various wikis and blogs which, as a Cole fan, made this an even more enjoyable purchase.
The art itself is split into three sections, Line Art, Washes and Originals. All pretty self-explanatory. What’s really worth going into is the ink wash technique he used for most of the works in this collection. Though the humor is sometimes a bit crass (especially for the time) there is nothing crude about the style it is portrayed in. The beautiful bold strokes compliment his curvaceous femmes in the most perfect way. The subtle shading of the skin and light airy strokes for the hair give most of the women an absolutely angelic quality. Or as Art Spiegelman masterfully put it “Cole’s goddesses were estrogen soufflés“.
These bunny funnies weren’t all about the babes however, they’re just as much about the enthralled and wise-cracking guys that chased them. Most of the humor found within this collection can be categorized as male fantasy, either by placing cunning men in advantageous positions with the fairer sex or placing (often promiscuous) ditsy dames in the spotlight. Stylistically Cole further divided the two genders by regularly drawing the men in a more humorous and exaggerated fashion than their counterparts.
All in all I thoroughly enjoy this book and find myself flipping through it quite frequently. The art is beautiful enough that women can enjoy it just as much as the men these inks were meant for and the humor, personally, is right up my alley. If you’re a pin-up collector this would be a great addition to your set and should be the cornerstone of any Cole fans bookshelf.