The Original

When I first stumbled upon the cartoon books of B. Kliban, it was a revelation.

Kliban, who died in 1990,  revolutionized single-panel cartoons with his twisted, anti-social panels as well as his invention of the caption in third person. Gary Larson of “The Far Side” followed in his footsteps — some say too closely — as well as others, such as Dan Piraro, who now does the syndicated “Bizarro.” However, Kliban preceded them by at least twenty years.

Kliban turned out cartoons for Playboy starting in 1962 and in 1975 released his first book about Cats from Workman Publishing. The book spawned a massive merchandising phenomena that still generates $10m a year. But it was his cartoon books, including “Whack Your Porcupine,” “Tiny Footprints” and “Never Eat anything Bigger Than Your Head” that won him the hearts and minds of weird humor fans forevermore.

For what it’s worth, I consider Kliban, along with Steinberg and Crumb to be the holy trio of panel cartoonists.

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One Response to “The Original”

  1. Keith Benoist Says:

    For years I have been trying to find a print of a cartoon which I believe to have been the work of Bernard ‘Hap’ Kliban. The scene depicts two men wearing Chicken Suits, driving through a desert in a convertible, and both are “flipping the bird” to a sign on the side of the road which reads, “No Chicken Suits Next Ten Miles”. Please let me know if you have knowledge of this cartoon, if it was the work of Mr. Kliban, and if so, where I might be able to purchase a print of it.


    Keith Benoist