Blowhard, Esq. writes:
Artist Dan DeCarlo is most known for modernizing the look and developing the house style of Archie comics, as well being the creator of Josie and Pussycats and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. During his freelance years in the mid 50s to early 60s, DeCarlo also drew hundreds of pin-up cartoons for men’s humor magazines.
I’ve collected a number of examples but since they’re NSFWish, you’ll find them below the jump.
Before we get to the pin-ups, here are some samples of the art DeCarlo did during the late 40s and early 50s while at Timely Comics, the company that became Marvel. Stan Lee wrote many of these scripts.*
In the comics and cartoon world of the time, the most lucrative and prestigious job was having your own newspaper strip or getting your work published in the pages of Esquire or The New Yorker. DeCarlo didn’t reach that level but he did get his work in Humorama, a division that specialized in men’s humor magazines. DeCarlo produced about 5-10 ink wash cartoons a month for which he was paid $15 a piece (or $120 in 2014 dollars).
Since Stan Lee got him the Humorama gig, DeCarlo was obligated to give 10% of his earnings on each sale to Lee as a finder’s fee. DeCarlo also had to give $3 from each to his studio mate for coming up with the captions, but that cost was eliminated when Humorama‘s editor took over writing the gags.
In Innocence and Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo, Bill Morrison writes:
In his comic-book work, the girls, though incredibly cute and sexy, were always chaste. The boys were horny, but too polite to ever go beyond basic necking, even after several hundred dates. In contrast, Dan’s Humorama cartoons showed a reality populated by strippers, gold diggers, buxom secretaries, lecherous bosses, and cheating spouses. These characters are clearly having sex and plenty of it. They have more in common with The Kinsey Report than Archie’s Pals and Gals…In fact, some Humorama cartoons almost seem to offer a peek into an alternate reality for Millie and her friends or a glimpse of a wayward life after high school for the Riverdale girls.
It’s as if Joan Holloway stepped out of the pages of that magazine, isn’t it?
Even if one wasn’t familiar with his men’s magazine work, Betty and Veronica were plenty sexy on their own. Note the caption on that last image, which looks as if DeCarlo was fulfilling a fan’s fantasy that no doubt many other males entertained over the years.
Betty or Veronica, like Ginger or Mary Ann, is one of the Eternal Questions. Put me down in the Veronica column.
- DeCarlo’s Wikipedia page. His NYT obituary.
- In addition to the aforementioned book by Bill Morrison, I also recommend Fantagraphics’ The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo and The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo 2.
- There are multiple best-of volumes for his Archie output. Here’s volume 1. Here’s a collection of his Jetta work, a comic that prefigured The Jetsons.
*My Friend Irma seems like an odd case, a hugely popular property that has fallen completely down the memory hole. Irma was a radio show, the first TV series broadcast by CBS from its Hollywood studios, a newspaper comic strip, a comic book, and spawned two feature films, the first of which marked the debut of Martin and Lewis while the second was the only sequel Martin and Lewis ever did. Yet, as far as I can tell, it’s completely invisible and unloved today.