Legendary PLAYBOY cartoon editor Michelle Urry has died at age 66 of occular melanoma, according to the NYT obituary (which we can’t find online.)
For a generation — from the early 1970’s until her death — Ms. Urry sorted through more than 1,000 cartoons a week to come up with the couple of dozen or so to appear in the monthly magazine, then sent them on to Hugh Hefner for the final selection. Her taste — seasoned by a girlhood of reading comic books, the careful study of the history of cartoons and experience as a fashion designer — helped shape the famous look of Playboy’s cartoons.
Raised in Winnipeg, Urry (born Michelle Altman) was an early fan of comic art. According to a 1995 New York Times interview, “What no one knew at the time was that as a kid I had the biggest comic book collection of any girl I knew, just stacks and stacks of Wonder Woman and other characters. I expected to grow up to wear gold bracelts and fly. […] I was a snob even then –a comic that wasn’t well drawn didn’t interest me. But give me a well-drawn comic with a good story and I was hooked.”
…”The rise in sexual and erotic humor is often viewed with alarm but it may, in fact, indicate a generally healthier society. You cannot laugh at anything unless you have mastered your anxieties about it, and the airing of these previously forbidden areas with more acceptance by society means that they are no longer so frightening. In order to laugh at a cartoon, for instance, one must be able to perceive the hidden hostility and be stimulated by it, but the cartoonist has to make it clever enough so that you don’t feel guilty because you identify with it.”