Back to College Again

National Lampoon Art Poster Book

You may have seen some comments left on recent posts by Dante d’Amore. The name was new to me so I checked out his site and found an excellent blog called Dante’s Paradiso which you should definitely visit too. I also learned that Dante is a former National Lampoon columnist no less!

This month sees the 34th anniversary of the famous 1975 “Back to College” edition of the satirical magazine. This superb quality version of the cover picture (click twice to see full size) comes from a special “Art Poster Book” which was made to commemorate the 100th issue. It contained large size prints of some of the most famous covers, including the all important one!

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This picture above, complete with a pen for scale, comes from ebay. The seller took care to provide a picture of the spanking too (below). A fairly unique selling point I would have thought.

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I didn’t find the top picture on ebay though, or on a spanking site. I found it on a site dedicated to the memory of the slide rule!

I’ve never seen an actual copy of the September ’75 issue – just reproductions of the cover where it was always impossible to read the word above the letter ‘F’ on the girl’s assignment. I now realise that it says “Calculus”, which of course gives the slide rule a significance that I only now fully appreciate. (There could have been a whole series: – the art teacher using a paint brush, the geography teacher using a rolled up map etc!)

I’ve long wanted to know the name of the artist, and also legible for the first time (to me) is the signature, which reads “Lettick”. A quick visit to the National Lampoon Wikipedia page reveals that one of the “important illustrators” who worked for the magazine was called Bernie Lettick.

I couldn’t find too much about him online, but Bernie Lettick is indeed a highly regarded artist/illustrator who was influenced by Norman Rockwell and painted a number of film posters including one for the 1977 movie Sinbad and The Eye of the Tiger.

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In the early 1980s, his picture of Ronald Reagan being shot appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

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This must be the third or fourth time I’ve featured the National Lampoon cover on this site, and if you know of a better spanking illustration I’d sure like to see it! On the poster version, you can really appreciate the care that has gone into rendering the tweed pattern of the teacher’s suit and the tartan of the girl’s skirt.

When I used the picture in previous posts, it always seemed to attract some nice comments.

Sir Vice Anglais once shared a story about being in New York in ’75 and seeing it for sale on a newstand.

The National Lampoon cover…reminds me that I was in New York with my wife at the time of publication. We were strolling past a bookstand on 6th Avenue and we both noticed this cover simultaneously and she just looked at me and said ‘you’ve got to buy it we’ve acted out that scene so many times’. 2 dollars, or whatever it cost well spent.

I have only two small regrets about the purchase – firstly there was no reference to spanking whatsoever throughout the entire editorial, it was only a cover teaser to increase sales to young men like me. Secondly after keeping it for years I mislaid or lost it. Today an original cover must be worth a few quid and I would have shown a profit on my original investment.

Hermione remembered the cover picture AND slide rules!:

I remember that National Lampoon cover! I don’t recall if I actually owned the magazine or if it was one of 3 years’ worth of issues loaned to me for summer reading by a neighbour. Yummy! …We used them (slide rules) in first year chemistry and physics at university, and I could NEVER figure out how they worked, so ended up doing the math in longhand. No calculators were on the scene yet, only adding machines!

Another reader told me that he once sent the picture to a female friend as a way of testing her reaction to the concept of spanking.

And in an email exchange with Dante (in which we also agreed to exchange links) he told me:

That Lampoon cover was great but I have a MUCH better appreciation for it now than back then, but it did make me think I should study more because college suddenly looked a lot more interesting!

The Chicago Spanking Review has some memories as well as interesting extra information about the 100th anniversary poster book.

We were certainly excited to see this cover, and although we considered it pretty risque at the time, in fact the Lampoon’s excessive smuttiness was in the process of being reigned in by its then youthful and unknown editor, P.J. O’Rourke. O’Rourke went on to become a very well-known, politically conservative humorist, authoring numerous books and articles.

We remember the 100th anniversary issue a few years later, containing a cover gallery which reproduced the spanking cover and added the comment that ‘conscientious P.J. supervised every second of modeling.’ Who can blame him?”

Surprisingly, CSR don’t credit the artist by name, but they do provide this helpful note:

“For the benefit of those who are too young to remember 1975, the slide rule was a computational aid used before digital calculators became affordable two or three years later.”

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3 thoughts on “Back to College Again”

  1. Another Lampoon story has arrive in my inbox:

    “I still have the original. Framed. And on the wall.
    It took some courage for me to finally go and have it framed.
    The woman in the store looked at it and said:

    – I think we should use a red frame, because that’s what she is soon to be, right?

    I must have blushed.”

  2. Thank you for finally posting a really good copy of this famous image online! I’ve been trying to find a good-looking one online for what seems like FOREVER! 🙂

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