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

October 18, 2006

Michelle Urry, 1939-2006

Word has begun to seep into comics news sources that legendary Playboy cartoon editor Michelle Urry passed away Sunday evening from complications due to cancer. Urry went to school at UCLA and worked in Los Angeles and New York before going to Chicago, where she was hired by Playboy as a typist in 1965. She was subsequently promoted to assistant cartoon editor and then cartoon editor.

imageThe Playboy cartoon editor position was one of the most powerful in the field. The magazine ran a lot of work, employed a wide range of cartoonists, paid extremely well, provided a secondary publishing opportunity in well-received book collections, and provided a high-profile platform for its artists, every from Eldon Dedini to Jules Feiffer to Chris Browne to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder. In addition to those cartoons engaging sexual issues and behavior, Playboy frequently published pieces related to its interest in politics and culture, and the magazine under Urry's run became one of the great depositories of post World War II cartoon art.

In addition to her magazine and book work with Playboy, Urry also consulted about cartoons for magazines ranging from Good Housekeeping to Modern Maturity, placing work that matched each publication's very specific sensibilities. One well-known testament to her eye for cartooning excellence was recognizing the quality of the non-Playboy work B. Kliban had around his studio during a 1974 visit, and helping him find an agent and publisher in what would become that cartoonist's most significant career work. She was also an eloquent spokesperson and writer about the art form.

The Sequential obituary for Urry is excellent, with research provided by Jeet Heer.
posted 2:44 am PST | Permalink

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