June 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

Illini Media honors longtime artist and cartoonist


Photograph courtesy of Mary Ellen Brown

Robert “Buck” Brown was an artist and cartoonist throughout his time with Illini Media, and prolonged his talents toward other publications with Playboy and Ebony journal.

Robert “Buck” Brown, 1966 alumnus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, found the vacant black chalkboard and observed the place filled with a drawing of a truck. Gazing in awe, Brown would grasp his craft to later make his break as an artist for publications like Playboy and Ebony journals right up until his passing in April 2007.

Brown’s fifty to sixty a long time of experience will be honored with his inauguration into the Illini Media Corridor of Fame Course of 2022 this month.

“He was a survivor,” reported Brown’s wife Mary Ellen Brown. “He is a survivor, and he’s ambitious. And even while he never obtained encouragement as a youngster, he was ready to come out of it on top.”  

In the course of his educational occupation, he faced rejections from The New Yorker and The Saturday Night Post. He eventually mailed a assortment of sketches to Playboy, wondering they would reject him.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Playboy magazine Hugh Hefner approved Brown’s eighth sketch — a reference to jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. Brown’s skill to create satirical items from 1961 enabled him to add all around 600 cartoons to the magazine for in excess of 45 years. 

“One of the points about Buck was that he was a consummate humorist and observer of the American scene,” claimed Andrew J. Sordoni III, a longtime collector of American illustration and comedian art. “He had a tremendous sensitivity to all of the challenges of the day, and he cherished the persons.”

Usually carrying a sketchpad, Brown targeted on innovative functions that included “slice-of-life” scenes, history addresses from Chiaroscuro Data and soul-genre paintings. Mary Ellen Brown was most fond of the animal comedian strips that Brown made in his property studio since these were the pieces that they could present to a broader audience. 

As an African American budding artist in the ‘50s and ‘60s, he knew he could not become an artist deep down. In his 1984 interview with Playboy’s Cartoon Editor Michelle Urry, Brown described how he arrived to his point of view on accomplishment as an artist. 

“Coming up at the specific time that I did, you experienced to be resilient,” Brown reported. “You had to be able to chortle no make any difference what, you know? I mean you felt like crying inside of but … you normally managed to make light of the predicament.”

Brown did not learn to draw risqué items right until doing work with Playboy, adding his perception of humor to the pieces to personalize them. Additionally, his photographic memory enabled him to discover the gentle-hearted facet of life’s hurdles or what Playboy’s Eileen Guo coined as Brown’s fortes — “upending norms and detoxifying off-restrict subject areas.” 

Brown supported himself all over his instructional profession by joining the Air Drive when he was 19 a long time old. In his cost-free time, he would make satirical sketches of a ranking official in his unit. 

“Other people today understood it (was him) and they cracked up each and every time,” Mary Ellen Brown stated. “Buck recognized how impressive he could be by just saying a little something.”

Brown obtained an early honorable discharge and attended Woodrow Wilson Faculty even though driving a bus as a Chicago Transit Authority driver. Just after graduating, he ongoing his training at the University of Illinois to attain a Bachelor’s diploma in Wonderful Arts, where by he achieved his wife throughout his junior yr. 

In his job interview and description of the job interview with Larry Crowe from “The HistoryMakers,” Brown explained his strained partnership with his mothers and fathers.

Mary Ellen Brown recognized how critical family members intended to him. They received again collectively immediately after jogging into each and every other at the art building on campus. The two of them received married in White Plains, New York, in which she was working as a programmer.

“He had, you know, a challenging lifestyle there for a even though,” Mary Ellen Brown said. “But he obtained greater just after he met me, and we received married. He experienced guidance. He had a man or woman doing work with him. We were a crew.” 

They had opposite personalities but complemented each and every other all over their professions though raising their son Robert “Bobby” Brown and daughter Tracy Hill. 

“I am surely daddy’s very little female,” Hill mentioned. “Always was, and generally will be. He was my hero. He was my like primary Superman. He was just my every little thing.”

Considering that his passing, the household retains Brown’s memory alive by putting his artwork around the residence, telling tales about him and dealing with the art studio as a memorial.

“My father will come by way of me all the time,” Bobby Brown stated. “Because we used so much time alongside one another and him sharing with me everyday living lessons, which is the place we linked.”


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