The Pin-up Files

Jack Cole "Jake" pin-up artist


Jack Cole was a masterful comic book artist who's pinups helped define the golden age of his art form

In the rarefied realm of vintage cartoon pin-up art, nobody did it better than Jack Cole

Jack Cole during the Playboy years

As a comic book artist in the 1940s, Jack Cole wrote countless stories working against tight deadlines. When he left comic books - and his best known creation Plastic Man - for a new career as a freelance cartoonist, Cole found himself in the uncomfortable position of being at a loss for words.

Pounding on the doors of major magazines, Cole received rejection after rejection, and in response, he turned to the Humorama line of digest magazines as his saviour. The girls and gags magazine circuit proved to be the perfect training ground for Cole to regain his footing and develop his craft as a single panel pin-up cartoonist. While Cole may have been honing his gag writing skills, his ability to render the female form was already without peer.

Cole's goddesses were estrogen soufflés who mesmerized the ineffectual saps who lusted after them

With his quirky line drawings and sensual watercolours, Cole, under Hugh Hefner's guiding hand, catapulted to stardom in the 1950s as Playboy's marquee cartoonist, a position he held until his untimely death at the age of 43.

Though he signed his pin-up cartoons "Jake," Cole's exquisite line drawings and masterful use of ink-wash (a skill he carried over to Playboy magazine) betrayed his pseudonym.

Upon his passing, Cole left behind a body of work that encompassed not only his stunning Playboy work, but also a brief career as a pin-up cartoon artist for the Humorama line of girlie digests. Taken together, these images provide a rare glimpse into the singular artistry that was Jack Cole.

Biographical notes borrowed from Alex Chun from The Classic Pin-up Art of Jack Cole (available below).

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