Monday, August 8, 2011

Last cover for H Humor?

I've done a lot of covers for the humor magazine Hustler Humor in my career with hustler. This magazine came to life in 1975, do you believe it? It was the brain/love child of notorious cartoon editor/cartoonist Dwaine Beverly Tinsley. It lived off the throw away cartoons from the main magazine. It also used new works the staff cartoonists produced in the form of strips, features and what have you. But the best gig was always the covers. An artist got $500 for the cover job for the entire run until just recently when the executive staff decided they would cut it by $100 for budgetary reasons. (wouldn't you know it would be this cover) The magazine has struggled for years and years with low sales so they told us but never seemed to reach that tipping point where it's survival was mortally threatened. Mostly that could be attributed to poor marketing and distributing as it had a pretty loyal readership and many more who wanted to buy it yet could not find it on any stand. I know because they would write me in droves asking where it could be purchased. I finally put a link on my website with a mail order form which could be found inside it's pages. I would also get fan mail from guys who would tell me, "I've loved your cartoons since I was a kid!" I don't endorse things like kids reading HH cartoons but from what I could tell they seemed for the most part fairly normal and in some cases quite successful people despite their exposure to my drawings. My main motivation is always to be funny; first and foremost. Gratuitous sex or violence is only grudgingly employed when it benefits the gag. Or to get Larry to buy the thing.
For a lot of those years I dealt with Dwaine and had a pretty good number of covers picked. When he passed away things got more problematic. The current executive editor took over not long after and was notoriously difficult to pin down or get an idea past. And then you had to run the gauntlet of Larry himself for the final hurdle! Not an easy task. So all the staff cartoonists started seeing fewer and fewer cover assignments which somehow started going to outsiders. I managed to get a few more in than the others by virtue of my differing styles of cartoon illustration. This cover itself was a new style I was experimenting with using the program Painter 12 to mimic traditional oil painting. The face looks photographic and it was one before I used a cloning process that created a copy with a brushed paint appearance . It's still a tad tight; next time I will make it rougher to fight that overly photo look.
If you scroll down through some past blog entires you will discover that this cover has gone through several iterations. I think I have painted at least four different finished versions of this idea in differing poses and without Sarah in it. I'm glad I kept pushing it till it reached this stage despite getting my pocket picked for a measly 100 bucks right at the very end. You see this probably will be my very last cover either due to the death of HH or because I will soon no longer be a hustler staff cartoonist.
I know there have been many more publications with better credentials than this humble cartoon joke book that have died the print death. But I didn't have a history of doing covers for them. And I can't imagine they were as much fun to do either except for the possible exception you got a hell of a lot more money doing them. They could be anything. A life guard flipping beach sunbathers with a spatula to a caveman carving a stone wheel-shaped toilet seat to name two. Out of God-knows-how-many over 36 years of monthly to bi-monthly to quarterly to bi-annually to whatever. It's been fun but you know, I hate that feeling when you can feel the end of something approaching that you have gotten intimately familiar with. It's a melancholy thing.
Well not a bad cover to end this volume of work. The top text they added was a little weird, not actually making any sense. They changed the title too. Oh well, editors...what can you say? They don't always know how humor works best, they just know they need to change something to justify their existence and or paychecks.
So long HH, I knew you when.

3 comments:

Dan said...

BTW I designed that new logo too some years back. Based on Dwaine's original logo with that weird one red-eyed fuzzball face guy.

Scotch said...

Great cover as usual, Dan. I think your work is fantastic and I'm very fortunate to be published in the same books as cartoonists of your and Bob's caliber.

KitLively said...

Thanks for sharing this, Dan. It is indeed a melancholy feeling. I've had a lot of good years with the various Hustler mags (I began contributing in '94), and would hate to see Hustler Humor bite the big one.