B. Kliban
B. Kliban
Self portrait of B. Kliban
BornBernard Kliban
(1935-01-01)January 1, 1935
Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S.
DiedAugust 12, 1990(1990-08-12) (aged 55)
San Francisco, California, U.S.[1]
Area(s)Cartoonist, Artist

B. "Hap" Kliban[2] (born Bernard Kliban; January 1, 1935 – August 12, 1990)[3][1] was an American cartoonist.

Early life and education

Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Kliban studied at the Pratt Institute and Cooper Union but "flunked out."[1][4] He spent time painting and traveling in Europe before moving to California, where he lived in the North Beach section of San Francisco. He did freelance advertising illustration, drawing ads, logos and annual reports.[1][4] His first wife, Mary Kathleen Brown, was a noted cartoonist in her own right as M. K. Brown and chose many of the cartoons that appeared in his publications.[5] It was while living in North Beach that Kliban began to draw cartoons for Playboy magazine. The income from Playboy provided financial security that enabled him in 1967 to move Brown and his daughter Kalia[6] to the suburb of Fairfax, Marin County.[5]

Kliban, who hated his given name of Bernard, went by the nickname "Hap" (for his birthday, "Happy New Year"). He eventually changed his legal name to the initial "B."[2]


In 1962, Kliban became a Playboy cartoonist, contributing cartoons until his death. Michelle Urry, Playboy's cartoon editor, visiting his studio, reviewed his drawings, mostly cats. She thought they should be compiled into a book, introduced him to an agent, who found a publisher, resulting in the 1975 book Cat. This led to several other books of cartoons ending with Advanced Cartooning in 1993. Since Cat, his cartoons have adorned many products including stickers, calendars, mugs, and t-shirts.

The books that followed Cat consisted mostly of extremely bizarre cartoons that find their humor in their utter strangeness and unlikeliness. Many of these are cartoons that Kliban drew for Playboy. They often contained dysmorphic drawings of nude figures in extremely unlikely environments. Another frequent subject of satire was the type of wordless, step-by-step visual instruction manuals typically found with such things as office furniture. Kliban also had a recurring series of drawings called "Sheer Poetry," in which the page would be split into six panels, containing images of objects whose names, when spoken in the order presented, would form a rhyming, nonsensical verse.

Kliban drew the album cover for the David Bromberg Band's 1977 LP Reckless Abandon.

Death and legacy

Kliban died at UCSF Medical Center aged 55 of an undisclosed heart condition; he had undergone heart surgery there two weeks previously.[1] He was survived by his second wife, Judith Kamman Kliban (who married actor Bill Bixby shortly before Bixby's death in 1993); brother, Ken, of New York City; and two daughters: Kalia, from his first marriage with M. K. Brown; and Sarah, from another relationship.

Gary Larson, cartoonist of The Far Side comic strip, named Kliban as one of the inspirations for his work.[7]



Comic books



  1. ^ a b c d e Peter B. Flint (August 14, 1990). "B. Kliban, 55, a Cartoonist Who Drew Zany Cats". The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2009.
  2. ^ a b Kliban, Judith K. (2021). "About B. 'Hap' Kliban". Eatmousies.
  3. ^ Taylor, Angela (February 12, 1978). "Kliban: The Man Behind the Cat". The New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "CARTOONIST B. KLIBAN DIES - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b "Lib at Large: Fairfax cartoonist M.K. Brown celebrated in 'Stranger than Life' book and show". Marin Independent Journal. January 4, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  6. ^ "PLAYFORD BALL WEEKEND MARCH 27-29, 2020" (PDF). static1.squarespace.com. Retrieved October 12, 2023.
  7. ^ Gustines, George Gene (December 17, 2019). "'The Far Side' Is Back. Sort Of. Gary Larson Will Explain". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 19, 2019.
  8. ^ Sheridan, Dave (April 18, 2018). Dave Sheridan: Life with Dealer McDope, the Leather Nun, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Fantagraphics Books. ISBN 978-1-68396-120-8.
  9. ^ ""Benefit for New Stage & Straight Theater," Moby Grape, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Country Joe & the Fish, Sparrow, March 5, Avalon Ballroom - Bernard Kliban". FAMSF Search the Collections. September 20, 2017. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  10. ^ "1967 Big Brother Newstage Benefit Avalon Poster - May 05, 2022". LiveAuctioneers. Archived from the original on August 21, 2022. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  11. ^ "Newstage Straight Benefit 1967 B. Kliban Avalon Poster w/Moby Grape, Big Brother". Concertposterauction.com. Archived from the original on August 21, 2022. Retrieved August 21, 2022.
  12. ^ "POSTERS – The Straight Theater". emi-arts. Archived from the original on August 21, 2022. Retrieved August 21, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)