Monday, May 25, 2015

1960's/1970's Comedians for VIP magazine by Bill Utterback

Bill Utterback was hired to work in the art department of Playboy magazine in Chicago in the mid-1960's and soon began drawing in-house caricatures of various staffers. When Playboy launched VIP, (Very Important Playboys),
VIP magazine
for members of their then-popular Playboy clubs, starting with issue #11, (Winter 1966), Bill Utterback created the thick-outlined B&W watercolor portraits of the musicians, singers and especially the comedians who were booked at the clubs, sometimes up to eight per issue for their "entertainment calender". He would draw around 200 images till the feature was dropped in winter, 1973.

Comics Jackie Curtiss, Shelley Berman, Mort Sahl
Many of his, (enlarged), portraits of performers would hang in the various Playboy clubs to promote the performer's appearences. I've blogged about the art of Bill Utterback and recently presented his work at a Society of Illustrators talk with fellow illustrator Stephen Kroninger:
Since then, many more of Utterback's 1960's/1970's VIP Comedian images have been unearthed thanks to my friend, pop-culture historian John Wendler. Most if not all of these wonderful silhouettees of comics, many long forgotten, haven't been seen since they were first published in VIP and even then, only by members of the Playboy Clubs. If you're seeing these for the first time, enjoy.

              A big thanks to John Wendler for supplying all of the images.
a two-page Entertainer Calender spread from VIP using Bill Utterback's caricatures

(Teter and McDonald LP cover by Utterback)

Utterback's depection of a reunion of members of "Second City" from over the years


  1. Billy Falbo stole Buddy Hackett's face.

  2. Those Pat Morita illustrations are so different from each other, there wasn't another comedian named Pat Morita, was there?

  3. I didn't know Stiller and Meara were former Second City.

  4. Its nice to see Bill remembered. he used to oversee a figure workshop followed by a portrait workshop I often frequented. He would give you a backstage survey of his comps and developing pieces for Second City,and how he arduously made dummies for each figure and nearby prop he would photograph in arrangements to see how he would place them. Great work ethic, an unspoken, quiet master, and a helluva portrait artist. He could make pretty quick art work of about anything you put in front of him. Yourself included. Bit of a card, too. Life is good to see him appreciated. I miss the old man now, seeing this, but fondly. A beautiful man. Peace