Playboy in My Classroom

This semester I'm taking History of Comics online and wouldn't you know, Playboy popped up. As you know, comics in Playboy is a mainstay. In my class, we learned about Harvey Kurtzman. He had created a humor magazine called Tales Calculated To Drive You MAD, which is now known as the iconic MAD magazine.

Harvey was known for his extremely accurate drawings and his great attention to detail. At the time, he was working for EC Comics. Because of the meticulousness of his comics, he was able to finish only about two books a month for them. Unfortunately, he was being paid by the finished book and not by the hour. To make more money, it was suggested to him to create a humor magazine similar to what he had done a few years prior. And thus, the beginnings of MAD was born.

After a slow start, the magazine soon found its audience. When MAD was transformed into a new format, its popularity went through the roof. Soon after, Harvey asked for a raise and part ownership of the magazine. He was let go.

After he left MAD, he brought along MAD artists Will Elder and Jack Davis to create Trump magazine, which was published by none other than Hugh Hefner. However, it was short-lived and lasted only two issues in 1957. They had gone to create two more publications, Humbug and Help! magazines.

Help! had lasted just 5 years, but in that time, a comic strip caught Hugh Hefner's eye. The comic was of the adventures of Goodman Beaver, who spent a wild night at the Playboy Mansion with the characters of the Archie Comics. The publishers of Archie Comics sued and won. The comic was retooled and Goodman Beaver turned into Little Annie Fanny. The busty and leggy Annie debuted in Playboy in the October 1962 issue. The iconic comic strip lasted for about 25 years. It ended in 1988.

Playboy is certainly known worldwide for its beautiful women but comics had, and still has, a major mark in the magazine's pages. For the class, we read the book, The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu. In the book, we saw millions of young people, like Hugh Hefner, were influenced by the characters and drawings of the extremely popular comic books. They would draw their favorite comic characters or even create their own comics, just as Mr. Hefner had done. And I'm sure from there, came the beginnings of Playboy magazine.

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