Jack Cole's Sexy Playboy-Style Humorama Cartoon Magazine Covers

THE 12 DAYS of COLE-MISS:
DAYS 1 and 2


12 days of NEW Jack Cole finds!
Posted every day until Dec. 25th

Friends, it's been a heckuva year, this so-called 2012. I dunno about you, but I'm a bit WOOZY and my brain's sorta WINKIN' on and off from the MIDNIGHT qualities of our times. What's it all about? I haven't got WUN CLOO. But, I do know this:

We could use a bit of cheer these dark daze.

My own esoteric brand of love and largess is to reach into my archives and share with you from the small treasure trove of new Jack Cole finds that I have accumulated over the last year. It's been a little quiet here at Cole's Comics this year, as I've been focusing on my Masters of Screwball Comics blog, and then jumped on board to co-edit an exciting new book on the great Rube Goldberg forthcoming from a major publisher. I miss posting here at Cole's Comics, so we'll call this celebration the 12 Days of Cole-Miss. I'll post every day from now until December 25th, offering Jack Cole delights that have never been published on this blog, and in many cases are virtually unknown to the world.

Since I had this furshlugginer idea last night, and we're getting started with 11 days left 'till Xmas, I'll start out with an extry-large helpin' of Cole for your stocking today. Hoo hah!

"On the First Day of Xmas, my own true blogger gave me... a collection of rare JACK COLE covers."


A Klassic Kole Kartoon Kover - date unknown, circa mid 1950s

Jack Cole worked in comics from 1938-1954. He had a longer parallel career as a magazine gag cartoonist that spanned 1936-1958. With the success of Plastic Man in the 1940s, Cole was mostly dormant as a magazine cartoonist. In the mid-50s, when Cole left comics, he returned to his magazine cartooning career with renewed vigor.

Usually working with the pen name of "Jake," Jack Cole sold a small pile of beautifully drawn, sex-drenched cartoons to the bottom-of-the bucket rags of the day, including the Martin Goodman organization that published the Humorama line of magazines (and also the Timely/Atlas comics). These were mostly digest-sized pulpy collections of badly drawn cartoons and fuzzy black and white photos of women posing in lingerie. Scrambling for work, a few good cartoonists sold to the Goodman books, including Archie's Dan DeCarlo, Bill Wenzell, and Cole's Quality Comics stable-mate, Bill Ward. Many of the Jack Cole Humorama cartoons have been published in The Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole by Alex Chun.

Occasionally, Cole's cartoons ran as color front and back covers on these publications, which usually featured the star models, including Bettie Page. The editors of these pheromone flip-books must have known a good thing when they saw it, realizing --as Playboy's High Hefner did around the same time -- that Cole's fantastic renderings of the female form were as powerful -- if not more so -- than actual photographic image - and that translated into higher sales.

Cole's cartoons in the Humorama publications appear to have been recycled several times, in some cases. Here's a 1955 Humorama digest cover that features a "Jake" cartoon on the cover.



This same cartoon ran several times in the interior pages of the various Humorama mags. Here, it's been given a "star" position as the first interior page of a 1962 issue of Romp. This was four years after Cole's death. The recycling of Cole's cartoons speaks both to the cheapness of the publisher, and also to the high quality of Cole's work.

A recycled Jack Cole cartoon, four years after his death.


Here's another 1955 Humorama magazine with a Jack "Jake" Cole cartoon on the cover, very likely only one of many times it was published. As a side-note, Jack Cole himself as a tall man.


Here's yet another Jake cartoon on the cover of a 1955 Humorama magazine. Heh, heh... darn those low, slinky cars!



Ah, if only the interior contents of the magazines lived up to the promise of the covers. Sadly, most of the pages inside are covered with poorly drawn, badly written, and utterly forgettable cartoons. Most of the cartoons look like they were drawn in about five minutes with no goal except to score a few bucks. In contrast, many of Cole's expertly composed, effort-filled "Jake" cartoons had a good point to make. Two good points, actually. These points were usually located on the chest of a woman, as in the case of this next cover cartoon:

When icons collide - Jack Cole meet Bettie Page.
Publication date unknown, circa 1950s

Culturally, this is an extraordinary cover. In this cover, we have an explosion of 1950's underground sex icons: the work of the premier sexy girl cartoonist of the 1950s  is displayed with the most celebrated girl model of the day, the incomparable Bettie Page (here spelled "Betty"). Although I haven't been able to identify the actual date of publication, it's a safe bet this cover appeared somewhere between 1955-1960.

In 1961, this cartoon ran as the cover of a November, 1961 issue of Popular Jokes. The publisher is listed as Timely Publications, which was no doubt one of the myriad publishing names used in Martin Goodman's empire of low-rent publications. This magazine was large than the digest books, measuring 8 inches wide and 10.75 inches tall. I was lucky enough to recently acquire a copy of this magazine and can now present it to you as a large high-quality paper scan from my own collection:

A rare case where politics and sex don't mix: A recycled Jack Cole "Jake"cartoon.
(from the collection of Paul Tumey)

We'll close, appropriately enough, with a colorized Cole cartoon that ran on the back cover of the December, 1961 cover of the Humorama digest Gee Whiz! Here, we see Cole returning to the hillbilly theme, which he worked with from the earliest stages of his career.



That's it for today, friends. Be sure to check back tomorrow, and every day up until December 25, as I share some of my new Jack Cole finds.

Laffin to keep from cryin,
Eel O'Brian


2 comments:

  1. I'll be the first to say I'm very excited for the next 12 days!

    Great finds and write-ups as usual.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Robert: thank you for the encouraging comment -- always appreciate it when someone is kind enuff to take a few moments to send a comment. Lotsa good stuff coming up over the next few daze -- tomorrow's offering includes a super-coll nine page story featuring a set of cutie-pie triplets!

    ReplyDelete

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