Playboy's website The Smoking Jacket interviewed cartoonist Chester Brown about his autobiographical novel, The Playboy. Jessica Campbell of Drawn & Quarterly (publisher of The Playboy) says, "OK, am I the only one who didn't know that Hugh Hefner wrote to Chester after the publication of The Playboy to express concern about his guilt? This interview is full of little gems like that! Love it."
TSJ: The Playboy was published in 1992, and it's an autobiographical comic about your teenage experiences with Playboy magazine—buying it, hiding it, whacking off to it, burying it, burning it… When did you first see a Playboy mag? And how do you go from being embarrassed to buy the publication to writing a book about it?
CHESTER BROWN: I'm sure I would have seen it on the stands and would have been curious, you know, when I was a kid. I remember in elementary school we were putting on a play—we were supposed to be pretending to be adults—and one of the kids had a Playboy. I guess he had gotten it from his father, to pretend like he was an older fellow reading a Playboy. And I remember sneaking a look at the centerfold. But it wasn't until several years later that I actually got up the nerve to go out and buy my own.
TSJ: Did you ever get any feedback from the people at Playboy about your comic?
CB: After we released The Playboy I got a letter with Playboy [header] on it and it turned it out to be from Hugh Hefner. He wrote me a very nice letter about how much he enjoyed the book but that he was kind of concerned about all the guilt and suffering I had gone through as a teenager, buying the magazine, and how this had kind of surprised him because he had thought the sexual revolution in the 60s had changed things and that teenage boys buying Playboy in the 70s wouldn't be feeling guilt about it anymore.