Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 7, 2016

Go, Read: Susan Karlin On News Playboy Is Dropping Its Cartoons With Latest Revamp

imageI enjoyed reading this article by Susan Karlin on the recent news that Playboy is dropping its cartoons along with its nude pictorial in a recent, radical revamp of the titanic 20th Century men's magazine. The news that Playboy was moving away from cartoons was greeted with a bit of dismay for a variety of reasons: the magazine's history, which includes a number of fine cartoonists; the historical decline of magazine comics more generally; loss of a solid market for a number of creators currently working and some second-guessing of the thesis that the best way to reach younger readers and hold folks' attention in modern times is to reduce the comics market.

The article suggests things are slightly more complicated. I say slightly because there's a reading where few of the nuances that Karlin mentions matter, but at least in understanding the situation they do. There will be a artist-in-residence feature which should spotlight at least some cartoon and illustration content every issue. There seems to be an openness to stand-alone comics content: small features, for instance, or what sounds like the occasional notes-from-author type feature.

As much of a comics fan as I am, I'm sympathetic to the publisher here because I think in the modern media landscape comics content needs to be curated: there's no baseline expectation that can serve as a substitute for an editor or publisher conceiving of a strategy and then executing it. Let's hope they find space to do so. Cartoons are a legacy with that magazine and a strong feature for other entities that a vigorous reinterpretation might really work. I know this site would pay attention to premiere features appearing in that publication, or a house cartoonists of uncommon skill.
posted 9:55 pm PST | Permalink

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