A few months ago, I picked up a couple of “bales” of National Lampoon Magazine — thirty-two issues, in all — from a local bookseller for cheap. It was only when I got home with my bales and cut the strings that I found out that all but one of the issues were from the 1980s and 1990s, which was okay because, at the very least, it gave me quite a few terrific comic strips by M. K. Brown, R. Crumb, Shary Flenniken, Rick Geary, Buddy Hickerson, Mark Marek, Rodrigues, Gahan Wilson, et al., to read. The lone exception, however, was an issue from November 1975, which — o lucky me! — includes the second-last Idyl strip by Jeffrey Jones that ever appeared in the magazine.
Now, if all you’ve seen are reprints of Idyl, you might be interested to know that the strip first appeared in a newsprint section of the Lampoon called “Funny Pages” and that, in the November 1975 issue, all of the strips in the “Funny Pages,” including Idyl, were overprinted in light blue with only the word balloons left uncoloured. To give you an idea of the sombre, twilight mood that the blue colour lends to Jones’s strip — which begins with the words, “It’ll be dark soon” — I present to you the following scan:
[CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]
The effect is so appropriate to the theme of the strip that one can’t help but wonder if the art director didn’t choose the colour specifically to complement Jones’s work…
“Idyl was intended as satire and whimsy. One art director and one editor, who met me each month with puzzled faces, continued to remind me that National Lampoon was a humor magazine, ‘As long as YOU laugh,’ they finally said. So each month I would go in laughing. I also must admit that I love to draw nude women.”
— Jeffrey Jones, interview, 2001