Self portrait of B. Kliban
January 1, 1935
Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||August 12, 1990 (aged 55)|
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Early life and education
Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Kliban studied at Pratt Institute but left without graduating. He spent time painting and traveling in Europe before moving to California, where he lived in the North Beach section of San Francisco with his first wife Mary Kathleen (M. K.) Brown and his daughter Kalia. M. K. was a noted cartoonist in her own right as M. K. Brown and chose many of the cartoons that appeared in his publications. It was while living in North Beach that "Hap" began to draw cartoons for Playboy magazine. The income from Playboy provided financial security that allowed him in 1967 to move his family to an old house in the town of Fairfax in Marin County.
In 1962, Kliban became a Playboy cartoonist, contributing cartoons until his death. He is best known for the book Cat, a collection of cartoons about cats drawn in Kliban's distinctive style. The cat cartoons were discovered by Playboy editor Michelle Urry and the 1975 book Cat was born. This led to several other books of cartoons ending with Advanced Cartooning in 1993. Since Cat, his cartoons have adorned many products including stickers, calendars, mugs, and t-shirts.
The books that followed Cat consisted mostly of extremely bizarre cartoons that find their humor in their utter strangeness and unlikeliness. Many of these are cartoons that Kliban drew for Playboy. They often contained dysmorphic drawings of nude figures in extremely unlikely environments, as if to spoof Playboy's own subject matter. Another frequent subject of satire were the type of wordless, step-by-step visual instruction manuals typically found with such things as office furniture. Kliban also had a recurring series of drawings called "Sheer Poetry", in which the page would be split into six panels, containing images of objects whose names, when spoken in the order presented, would form a rhyming, nonsensical verse.
Death and legacy
Bernard Kliban died at UCSF Medical Center aged 55 of a pulmonary embolism; he had undergone heart surgery there two weeks previously. He was survived by his second wife, Judith Kamman Kliban (who later married actor Bill Bixby shortly before Bixby's death in 1993); brother, Ken, of New York City; and two daughters: Kalia, from his first marriage; and Sarah, from another relationship.
- Cat, 1975 (ISBN 0-911104-54-2 (pb), ISBN 0-911104-87-9 (hb))
- Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head and Other Drawings, 1976 (ISBN 0-911104-67-4)
- Whack Your Porcupine and Other Drawings, 1977 (ISBN 0-911104-92-5)
- Tiny Footprints, 1978 (ISBN 0-89480-031-0)
- Playboy's Kliban, 1979 (ISBN 0-87223-547-5)
- Playboy's New Kliban, 1980 (ISBN 0-87223-626-9)
- Catcalendar Cats; the Complete Collection, 1981 (ISBN 0-89480-169-4)
- Two Guys Fooling Around with the Moon, 1982 (ISBN 0-89480-198-8)
- Luminous Animals and Other Drawings, 1983 (ISBN 0-14-006861-9)
- The Biggest Tongue in Tunisia and Other Drawings, 1986 (ISBN 0-14-007220-9)
- Advanced Cartooning, 1993 (ISBN 0-8362-1710-1)
- Peter B. Flint (August 14, 1990). "B. Kliban, 55, a Cartoonist Who Drew Zany Cats". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
- Taylor, Angela (February 12, 1978). "Kliban: The Man Behind the Cat". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- "Lib at Large: Fairfax cartoonist M.K. Brown celebrated in 'Stranger than Life' book and show". Marin Independent Journal. January 4, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
- Gustines, George Gene (December 17, 2019). "'The Far Side' Is Back. Sort Of. Gary Larson Will Explain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
- Downing, Andy. "Final dispatch from the Comics Reporter: Tom Spurgeon, 1968-2019". Columbus Alive. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
“I remember we loved [the comic strips] Shoe and The Far Side. And this was never a syndicated strip, but early on my dad brought home [B. Kliban’s] Never Eat Anything Bigger than Your Head & Other Drawings, and we thought it was hilarious. So Tom and I were exposed to all of this [material] early on
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: B. Kliban|
- Kliban Cats official site
- B. Kliban Gallery at the Wayback Machine (archived February 2, 2006)
- 1978 audio interview of B. Kliban by Stephen Banker