The Artbook Review #4 - The Classic Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole

104 pages.
Edition: Hardcover.
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
 There's your pocketbook, Ma'am-right there on the floor!
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
Junior, can't you do your chin-ups on something else around the house?
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.
You planned that!

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.
17 Comments
17 Comments
Posted by tonis

@M.S. Feather: what a great review and fantastic choice of subjects. That must be such a nice hardcover to have in the library. :)

It's kind of funny to think back on the fact that what actually made Playboy so famous back then was the art more so than anything else, Hefner was a genius to include Cole's work.

Those samples you included are sooooo funny, I can't stop chuckling looking at Junior so determined XD

Posted by M.S. Feather
@tonis: Heh, there were a lot of great ones in the second chapter but the Junior one takes the cake!
 
Also, I think Hef was certainly more classy than Flint. :P
Posted by Raven0207
@M.S. Feather: I have personally thought about picking this book up before. Don't know why I didn't ? Awesome review !
Posted by M.S. Feather
@Raven0207: The softcover is under $15 on Amazon, so there's even more of a reason you should finally pick it up. ; )
Posted by Raven0207
@M.S. Feather: I just might then
Posted by Silkcuts

Congrats on getting this in he "rad stuff" section.  You got there before me...lol
But I am glad more people can see why Jack Cole is so awesome. 
 
After reading Jack Cole and Plastic man: Forms stretched to their limits I most definitely want this Art book.  Jack Coles washes are amazing the last chapter of Forms stretched to their limits was the playboy days and the history of that period of Jack's life is so interesting.  So sad how he died.
 
Wonderful review and out of your 4 art book reviews, this is my favorite, yes even more then Giger.  You convinced me to get the giger book and looks like you lead me to another great art book.
 
Cheers 
^_^
 - Kevin

Posted by M.S. Feather
@Silkcuts: Woah!  It did make it on the front page...  Thanks for pointing that out to me, hopefully more people will see it now and check out his work. ^^'
 
I'm glad you'll be picking this one up.  As a fellow fan of Cole's art and humor I know you'll really enjoy it. : )
Posted by TypingKira

This is such cute art (some people are gonna read that and go 'WTH?"). I now love Jack Cole, so thank you for reviewing this book! 

Posted by M.S. Feather

@TypingKira said:

I now love Jack Cole, so thank you for reviewing this book!

Excellent...all is going according to plan.

Posted by tonis

@M.S. Feather: hahaha, next, the SUN XD

Posted by FuryofObama2012

Jack Cole worked on Playboy? wow.

Posted by okayla

I'll have to check it out, I love the old Playboy artists!

Posted by Silkcuts

The seesaw picture you posted inspired me to write a story.

Posted by M.S. Feather

@FuryofObama2012: Yes, sir! Cole dabbled a bit in just about every genre. : )

@okayla: Glad to hear it.

@Silkcuts: When can I read it...and is it saucy? *waggles eyebrows*

Posted by Decept-O

You'd be surprised how many Golden Age and Silver Age comic book artists delved into other genres, and naturally, pinup work was rather a staple for many of them, as plenty of artists of the time either served during WWII where they honed their pinup work ( Wally Wood for instance) or did pinup work for US Military comic books, magazines and newspapers. Jack Cole was indeed very talented and it is sad how tragically short his life was but I am impressed that someone of your generation and gender appreciates him in such a way, M.S. Feather. Same goes to the other comments like TypingKira, I am surprised. Cool, nice review as well.

Posted by satanmode

Awesome!  You should add the drawings in your article to his wiki entry though so that others can see his work.

Posted by M.S. Feather
@Decept-O: Thanks. : )
 
@satanmode: Yeah, I noticed his entry was a little bare last week.  I'll be writing an article for his page and adding a bunch of images soon.  Thank you.