Lou Magila Zonked out Konked out Wonked out Collage Cartoonist of Vintage Sleaze
Of all the artists working for the Humorama line of risque cartoon gag mags of the 1950s and 1960s, the strangest by far was "screwy" Louie Magila. What the hell was he thinking???
I wrote about Louis Magila before, see HERE, in which I compared his work (unfavorably) to the master collage artists of the past. Now having obtained a sizable collection of original masterpieces by the "artist" I am happy to present an update.
Magila could draw, and there are many examples of his cartoons without applied glossy photographs, but for the most part he was a construction artist who cheated by using pictures for detail. Not an original idea, and in Lou's case not well-executed. Since we have no biographical information, all is speculation...so I am going to speculate Lou initially used small doses of junk to calm his hand, but soon got hooked and just got tired of drawing. The result? A signature style with purloined photos which make absolutely, without a single bit of sanity, no sense.
At least Magilla had the good taste to use Betty Page for one piece, and Tempest Storm for another. However, he also used the "Throw away your Alarm Clock" model, so it evens out. Note also that Lou was so zonked out he didn't even know it WAS Bettie...he called her "Jane" until an eagle-eye editor corrected the mistake. (Thus adding historical accuracy as well as a few bucks to my purchase price.)
Now, addressing his style, one can not avoid the "game" aspect. Magilla was so wonked-out and konked-out, he wanted to create puzzles or something...so much of his work involves some kind of unfathomable quiz or trick or something. You figure them out. I can't and I have the ORIGINALS.
Yes, these were actually published...in some cases again and AGAIN and again. "The Wench Game" here ran in at least three titles from 1959 to as late as 1971 (as if you could ever forget seeing it in an earlier issue.) Proof the Humorama editors were as nuts as the artists...or that they didn't even care, now that I think of it. How could these possibly have made it to the printing stage?
Now, I haven't been generous to Lou...and one reason is the dame on a roof here. Lou didn't even DRAW it! Note the signature. This is a photostat of a Stanley Rayon cartoon, who I admire (and whose signature you can see reversed just above the window sill) but Magilla plopped a "tar beach tanner" right on another artist's work and sold it as his own! Must have been hard to cop that week.
Collection of Original Lew Magilla collage cartoon gags, circa 1960. Collection Victor Minx.
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