Profile: Robert Brown (1936-2007)

Robert “Buck” Brown was an American painter and cartoonist best known for creating Playboy magazine’s toothless, saggy-breasted, highly-sexed, naughty “Granny” character.

Early life and education

Brown was born in Morrison, Tennessee, in the 1930s and moved to Chicago as a child after the separation of his parents. He graduated from Englewood High Schoolin 1954 and then joined the United States Air Force. While in the Air Force He would pinup his cartoons in the barracks getting laughs from the sergeant and fellow soldiers. Brown later received a Bachelor of Arts degree in fine arts from the University of Illinois 1966.

Playboy career

Playboy Buck Brown cartoon used on a subscription form for the magazine in 1972.

Brown was taking art classes and driving a Chicago Transit Authority Bus. While he was attending classes at the university he stopped by the Playboy Offices in Chicago to drop off some ideas and sketches which ran the next year. He began to develop a reputation as a cartoonist and sold his first cartoon to Playboy in 1962. “Granny” was his first color work for the magazine published in 1966. The inspiration for the granny character came from people he would sketch during his hours driving the route and encountering situations that occurred on his bus. Often, older women would board the bus and ask sexual innuendo laden questions such as, “Do you go down?” and “Do you go all the way?” In all, Brown had more than 600 cartoons published by the magazine.

Other Works and Interests

Brown also had thousands of other drawings published by publications such as EsquireEbony and Jet. Many of his cartoons were filled with commentary on civil rights issues affecting African Americans. He created several album covers for the Chiaroscuro Jazz Record label, including The Red Holloway Quintet’s Standing Room Only, Frank Wess Quartet’sSurprise, Surprise, Jay McShann’s My Baby With The Black Dress On and A Lindy Hop Compilation. Brown was also a painter of what he described as “soul genre paintings” depicting humorous images of everyday life. Brown’s daughter, Tracy Hill recalls that the Bill Cosby had even bought one of them depicting a scene on a beach with Africans were coming out to greet a ship, everyone was dressed as basketball players and a coach was standing in between them.

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