Tuesday, 1 January 2008
42 - Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder: Little Annie Fanny
by Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder in “Playboy”, January 1970
A tiny extract from January, 1970’s instalment of “Little Annie Fanny”. The strip, a luxuriously painted comic satire on social mores and sexual humour, had been running in “Playboy” since October 1962, but this is the first time there had been any hint of homosexuality. Kurtzman, the original creator of "Mad" magazine, had to submit all his work to Hugh Hefner who was a big admirer of Kurtzman. So if Kurtzman had made any previous attempts at humour about gays, they had all been nixed.
The shock of the joke is not just that the character portrayed is gay despite his appearance, but an actual joke about homosexuality has appeared in "Playboy". “Playboy” was a big part of the sexual revolution of the 60s, but even the vaguest possibility of homosexuality tended to be absent from its pages - both positive comment or any unpleasant sneering either. Omerta (manly silence).
By 1999, “Playboy” would have no problems printing the comic strip exploits of “Saturday Night Live”’s “Ambiguously Gay Duo”.