I looked through the new Playboy

Picked it up at the newsstand last night. Observations:

1.) Different proportions and feel. It’s not “slick” anymore, but that tactile “rough”.

2.) Same logo and “Playboy” in same typeface

3.) They still hide a rabbit on the cover

4.) A lot of features are still there – Interview (Rachel Maddow!), Letters, Playboy Advisor, even, despite the new policy, a Playmate of the Month, complete with center Gatefold.

5.) Significantly, what’s missing is any hint of humor. The Playbot Party Jokes are gone (no great loss there), but so are all the freakin’ cartoons. No Gahan Wilson. No Caldwell. No Olivia. None of their other sexy cartoonists. And they must have a backlog of LeRoy Neiman femlins and B. Kliban caroons stored away in their vault. In addition, their “Data” page, with the whimsical statistics, is gone. As is any humorous commentary.

6.) Not only that, but it’s as if they sucked all the color out of the magazine, aside from the ads. Their regular content, compared to just last month’s, looks like the current movie incarnations of superheroes compared to the comic book versions.

7.) There ARE about ten nude photos in the magazine, but they’re – reserved. No nipples show. Women hide their crotches and even their gluteal folds (buttcracks to you low-class folks). There were more explicit and sexier photos of women in LIFE magazine back in the 1960s – no joke. I used to read it back then.

8.) There still is a Playmate, with the datasheet and gatefold (“centerfold”), but without the nudity it kind of seems to lose its relevance. If they want her to be engaging, they ought to show her at hobbies, or something (which they used to do before).

9.) Without the humor, cartoons, nudity, and especially the color, the magazine kind of feels as if they deliberately excised all the fun from the magazine. You know how, in the movies The Little Mermaid or The Corpse Bride the opening scenes of our mundane world are shown in dull and muted tones, so that when you visit Ariel’s underworld kingdom or the Realm of the Dead in Burton’s film, both with bright and brilliant color, they seem more interesting and inviting than our world (despite being damp or full of dead people)? Well, the new Playboy feels like that “before” image. It’s as if, having championed the idea of sex and sophisticated living as Fun all these years, they now want to show that it can be stodgy, too. This is supposed to draw in viewers?

10.) You can keep the nudes, if you want. Give me back the classic Playboy cartoons and knowing humorous commentary. Heck, Esquire kept the humor when they dropped the (for then) explicit sex. Things like Maxim have it. Who is their target audience here? Are they hoping to pull away readers from GQ?

I have been a Playboy subscriber for most of the past 30 years. I received the new issue, but haven’t read it yet. I did glance through it, and was definitely underwhelmed at first blush. I’ll reserve full judgement for a couple of issues. But, I definitely see what you are seeing. No cartoons and jokes was my second observation, too.

My first observation was an undefined gloomy appearance. Probably from the changed graphics, cover photo and inside photos, it all just looks kind of depressing. I’m not exactly sure what they are going for, other than obviously trying to broaden appeal to a) people who are offended or embarrassed to be seen reading a magazine with nude photos; and b) younger readers.

I’ve always enjoyed the Playboy Advisor, “Men” and “Women” columns, the interviews and fiction in the magazine. I haven’t much enjoyed many of the non-fiction articles, though some have been interesting. I’ll give the new version a chance, but I’m a bit pessimistic.

One can find all kinds of nude photos on the internet, so I understand losing the nude pictorials isn’t a huge loss from that standpoint. But, there is something to be said for the beauty of the Playboy models and the quality of the photography. I don’t know that semi-nude pictorials is much of a substitution. It sure looks like the Playboy empire is continuing to crumble.

I think that “gloomy” appearance is the muted palette of colors I wrote of above. Aside from the ads – which are still colorful, and look like those in the older playboys – the photos, graphics, and setup colors are all dulled down , like the colors of Wonder Woman in the forthcoming film, or like the pre-credits scenes in [The Little Mermaid. Add to this the absence of any cartoons – which were very brightly colored in Playboy – and you’ve got Gloom and Doom colors. It’s as if they’re trying to drive away their audience.

Did you notice, by the way, that there is only ONE letter in The Playboy Advisor? Every previous issue ran a dozen or so.

I still have a few issues left on my subscription but when I get it now, I throw it unopened into the garbage. Which, if they are interviewing a nitwit like Rachel Maddow, is exactly where it belongs.

I haven’t read any physical edition of a magazine in years. No matter what the look or content, I doubt the physical copy will be around for much longer.

It sounds like it’s now Dirge Boy.

Do they still issue the Braille edition?

You know, the one people only feel for the articles.

I can’t find anything current, but apparently it was still published in 2014.
Of course, the Braille edition, if it exists, won’t be hampered by depressing color tones. But it’ll still be bereft of humor in just about all its forms.

[Boldness added for emphasis.]

On a side note, are there any major publications that still feature cartoons other than The New Yorker? Esquire dropped them years ago as did *The Atlantic *and Harper’s. Maybe *Penthouse *still has them but I wouldn’t know since I haven’t read an issue in years. I don’t think GQ or the revived Vanity Fair ever had them.

If there was ever someone who’s name I wouldn’t want in the same sentence as Playboy, it’d be Rachel Maddow. The new lack of nudity is apparently a blessing. shudder

Why not? Her liberal outlook is a pretty good match for the political stands Playboy has taken over the years.

Check any Cartoon Marketplace website. They list the places cartoonists can send them:


Wall Street Journal
Reader’s Digest
Boy’s Life
American Scientist
Harvard Business Review
Better Homes and Gardens
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Field and Stream
National Enquirer
Parade (and similar supplement magazines)
various Men’s magazines (as you suggest)

But a liberal magazine, or virtually any liberal publication, is not interested in asking any tough questions of a liberal like a good journalist should. Like when Barbara Walters asked Hillary Clinton when her husband was perjuring himself under oath “how do you feel when people say nasty things about you?”. Or “Rolling Stone” asking Al Sharpton, convicted slanderer, if the truth will ever come out about Tawana Brawley. It did years ago: she made it up and Sharpton and others launched a racist witch hunt.

Lost the cartoons, huh? That is REALLY bad. After The New Yorker, Playboy carried the best cartoons in the magazines-for-grownups world.

Have you checked out Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists?

AOPA Pilot is like that too. I put it down to cost-reduction.

Actually, the ones in American Scientist are pretty good. They frequently carry Sidney Harris’ warped worldview.

The loss of the color cartoons in Playboy is particularly telling, considering this:

(Is it really true, though? Didn’t Esquire run color cartoons earlier? Certainly they printed Alberto Vargas’ color pin-up girls. But maybe the quote means that Playboy was the first to do it every issue.)

In the 1980s, in fact, Playboy started running an entire “Playboy comics” full-color section that ran for several pages. Hefner liked comics. I think the feature continued for about 20 years.

So it’s really weird that Playboy dropped the color cartoons after more than half a century. If the objection is that “nobody else does it”, then you have to ask “Why would they WANT to be like everyone else? Who needs a Johnny-come-lately retread when they were the original in this particular line?”

I agree. The naughty and erotic cartoons were very much unique to Playboy. Why they would stop is bewildering. Many were quite humorous. I dunno. I’ll give the new version a chance and see whether I think renewing is worthwhile.