Archie's Gals Gone Wild

Columbus Alive | March 3, 2005
Fantagraphics follows up its Glamour Girls of Bill Ward and The Pin-Up Art of Jack Cole with the strongest collection yet of a comics legend’s work in the field of cartooning scantily clad ladies for the girly digests of the 1950s and ’60s. The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo collects more than 200 pages of one-image gag cartoons by DeCarlo, colored with shades of orange and reprinted in a digest-sized collection.

DeCarlo’s art is instantly recognizable to anyone who touched a comic book in his or her childhood, thanks to his “day job” at Archie Comics, where he spent more than 40 years drawing the Riverdale gang. His interpretation of the never-aging teens continues to be Archie’s house style.

Delineating blonde girl next door Betty, spoiled rich brunette Veronica and creating all-girl rock group Josie and the Pussy Cats, DeCarlo’s girls took on a familiar look, with upturned noses, thick lashes on the sides of their semi-circle eyes and rosy cheeks.

The girls he drew for the pin-up digests looked like DeCarlo girls, but with bombshell-shaped breasts to meet the demands of their particular audience. The collection reads an awful lot like the adventures of Betty and Veronica, somehow having escaped from Riverdale and moved to the big city to lounge about in lingerie, get chased around the desk by their lecherous bosses and suffer wolfish whistles and lame pick-up lines.

The gags are all products of their times—that is, hardly hilarious, but interesting artifacts from the pre-PC ’50s. It’s the images, then as now, that offer the really rewarding scan. Anyone who’s ever wanted to see Josie in a state of undress now has the perfect book to pore over.

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