Historic First Cartoon Illustration From Playboy #1 To Be Auctioned By Heritage

Dallas, TX: Publishing impresario Hugh M. Hefner built a world-wide cultural phenomenon with Playboy magazine, and an integral part of the magazine’s success was due to its smart and sexy cartoon illustrations, originally hand-picked by Hefner himself.

“It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Playboy magazine to the modern cartoon field,” says Ed Jaster, Heritage Auctions Vice President, “and Ben Denison’s was the very first cartoon commissioned and published by Hefner in the pages of Playboy #1, the December 1953 debut often dubbed the ‘Marilyn Monroe issue.’ This was the cartoon that set the stage for all that followed, and as such, it holds a hallowed place both in Playboy lore and cartoon history.”

“In the 50-plus years since this cartoon appeared, Playboy magazine has featured the world’s best and brightest cartoonists,” Jaster said. “Its spectacular stable of artists has included such stellar talents as Buck Brown, Jack Cole, Eldon Dedini, Jules Feiffer, Shel Silverstein, Gahan Wilson, and many others. These hip subversives and sly revolutionaries set a new standard of excellence for cartoons, using a sophisticated type of humor missing in other men’s magazines – and it all began right here with this Ben Denison gag.”

The gouache on illustration board illustration has an image area that measures approximately 11″ x 8-1/2″; the somewhat risqué, and yet charmingly innocent, punch line asks, “Jeannie – what’s the past tense of ‘virgin’?” So was set a winning formula for the editorial direction of Playboy!

“Anyone who has the slightest interest in Illustration Art should avail themselves of the opportunity to view this incredibly important and historic piece of art on our website at www.HA.com,” Jaster said. “While there, you’ll have a chance to view enlargeable, full-color images of this and every other piece in our upcoming auction, read our complete and informative catalog descriptions, and even place bids online from the comfort and convenience of your home or office.”

Ben Denison’s original Playboy #1 cartoon illustration will be offered in Heritage’s upcoming Illustration Art auction, to be held December 12, 2007, in Dallas, Texas.

BEN DENISON (American 20th Century) Original Playboy cartoon from the very first issue, Playboy #1, December 1953 Gouache on board 11 x 8-1/2in. Signed lower left Caption: “Jeannie — what’s the past tense of ‘virgin?'” ESTIMATE: $12,000 – $18,000

For more information about Heritage’s auctions, and a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit www.HA.com.

Prospective consignors and sellers of illustration art are invited to visit www.HA.com/Sell. Or simply email Ed Jaster at [email protected] or call (800) 872-6467, ext. 1288.

To reserve your copy of any Heritage auction catalogue, please contact Client Services at (800) 872-6467, extension 1150, or visit www.HA.com/Catalog to order by email.