Recent Illustration Job

April 24th, 2009 | Posted in Freelancing

This is a job I did a few months back for Penthouse, now on the stands.

The assignment was an unusual one, and one I had to briefly consider if I wanted to do or not. Although I do not have a problem working for Penthouse (nor would I for Playboy) those would be the only two “adult” magazines I would agree to do work for… they have a certain mainstream acceptability that Hustler, etc. does not. Additionally, I would not accept a job even from them drawing nude women or a sexually explicit subject. I have zero problem with anyone’s right or willingness to do or publish work of that nature, but I would politely decline such jobs by personal choice.

This job did not call for that, but the subject matter was drug related. The subject was a list of 13 things a man can do and not be considered “gay” so long as they are stoned when they do it. Since I do work for several kids publications I was not sure I wanted to open that door, but I figured that is not far off from what you might see in MAD. Thus I accepted the job.

The list included things like “baking”, “buying shoes”, “swinging on a swing set”, “listening to 80’s pop music”, etc. The art director wanted to include several in a single image. We needed to show a macho guy stoned out of his mind doing stuff that was not very macho. Of course the problem was that many of these activities were done at different locations, so putting several in one scene was an issue.

Pencil roughsPencil Roughs

My solution was to use the smoke as dream-like balloons to show a couple of the list items from “off-site”. In an effort to make the guy as macho as possible, I made him muscular and square-jawed with a “Slayer” shirt on. Of course that’s a play on an old joke that says a man can be seen kissing another man, but as long as he pauses, throws up the devil horns hand gesture and yells “Slayer RULES!” he would not be considered gay. The actual joke is more graphic that that, but you get the idea. Anyway the baking stuff, bongos, “Duran Duran” on the stereo and the cotton candy cone are all list items. I was going to toss in a poster of Michael Phelps but we decided on the Grateful Dead instead.

Below are the inks and final art.

Final inks
Final inks

Final Art
Click for a closer look…

I actually used a pysdoneum credit on this job because of the drug related subject, but in retrospect that was silly. If I am willing to accept a job, it should be one I have no problem signing my name to. I won’t do that pysdoneum thing again… although the art director from Penthouse understood completely. He told me he has several artists who work for children’s entertainment companies that have contracts forbidding doing work for Penthouse, Playboy, etc. and they use other names for their credits when doing work for those publications. Interesting.


  1. Nate says:

    LoL that’s great, Tom! I think the Michael Phelps poster would have been hilarious – but then again, there’s a lot of people out there that still associate him with the Olymipics instead of smoking dope.

  2. Marv says:

    I saw the illustration in Penthouse and thought it looked a LOT like your style of work (especially the color outlines) but was surprised to see “Ike” credited for the work… who ever he was…. At least now I know my original instincts were correct. … I won’t mention how/why I happened across the illustration in the first place, lets just say it was research. haha…

  3. Schay Glover says:

    Hey Tom. Big fan of your work. I thought it looks great w/o the Phelps implication of his past but am 100% sure it would’ve been just as funny. I aslo respect your views in not working for Hustler, etc with a possible Sessame Street illustration in the asame portfolio. Great line quality.


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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