Sunday, January 21, 2007

R.I.P. FHM U.S.

I just received my comp copy of the final issue of FHM US; it's full of sentimental reminiscences by the staffers, who seem like a fun-loving, hard-partying group of folks. While these fuckers never saw fit to invite me to their Christmas parties, they certainly helped pay my rent for a few years, for which I am most grateful.

I got my first FHM illo assigment in November of 2002; then-art director Matt Warner (one of the friendliest designers I've worked for in recent memory) asked me to provide a drawing for their "True Stories" column, where readers were invited to send in embarassing real-life anecdotes. This one was about some reader's shaggy, overly-familiar dog who slobbered mud all over his master's girlfriend, who was dressed for a nice evening out.

The "True Stories" column quickly turned into a regular gig for me; soon added onto my plate was FHM's "World Of" page, for which I provided a column header illo each issue, which almost always showed some monster or miscreant menacing the globe.

Some look down their noses at FHM and the other "lad" mags; for me, FHM was the realization of every illustrator's dream: a steady monthly gig, and one which never failed to supply fun material to work with.

Matt Warner left FHM at some point in 2005 or thereabouts, after which I worked with Mac Lewis and Ian Knowles, (both of whom can be seen in the final issue's debauched staff photos).

A redesign in early 2006 killed both the "True Stories" and "World Of" pages, and generally shrunk the number of illo assignments per issue. I turned in my final illo for FHM in April of 2006; this one showed comedian Dave Chappelle lounging in his opulent living room, watching his Comedy Central co-stars struggle to salvage the wreckage of his show.

Here's a small sampling of the huge heap of illos I did for FHM between 2002 and 2006, including the very first and very last ones. Best wishes and happy landings to Mac, Ian, and everyone else at FHM US!

















4 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear the work is lost; at least you have a body of really nice work to point to. I admire that you restrain the saturation of your colors and let the lineart do the talking.

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  2. Well, a steady illo gig, while it may last for a few years, is ultimately an ephemeral thing. It's great while it lasts, but inevitably, your friendly art director leaves and a new art director who hates illustration takes over. Or some doofus editor comes along with the notion to "freshen things up," or the mag does a sweeping redesign, or the mag slashes their illo budget, or the mag goes out of business entirely. FHM is just the latest of a dozen or so mags I'd worked for steadily that have tanked during this lean, post dotcom bubble period.

    The trick of it is to get enough plates spinning in the air so that when one of them comes crashing to the floor, you've still got enough other things going on to keep the rent paid.

    Glad you like the colors, Ray!

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  3. Robert Cook4:01 PM

    Biff, when the time comes, I want you to design my tattoo! That pitcher of the skeleton hovering over the globe with the scythe is rad!

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  4. "The trick of it is to get enough plates spinning in the air so that when one of them comes crashing to the floor, you've still got..."

    That trick is a tricky thing...

    Eric T.

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