By Leroy Douresseaux
March 14, 2005 - 15:34
THE PIN-UP ART OF DAN DECARLO
EDITOR: Alex Chun
DESIGNER: Jacob Covey
ISBN: 1-56097-619-5 paperback original/art book
280 pp., B&W with accent color, $18.95
If you didn’t know better, you might have thought that one man drew every Archie comic book for nearly 40 years. That’s because the late Dan DeCarlo was the Archie comic book artist until Archie dismissed him in the late 1990’s over a lawsuit. A legion of Archie comic book artists have mimicked DeCarlo’s signature style to this day. He started defining the look of Archie Comics not long after joining the company in the late 1950’s.
While many know DeCarlo’s influential work with Archie, a lot of people (including myself) didn’t know that DeCarlo produced hundreds of pin-up gag cartoons for the Humorama line of girlie digests. THE PIN-UP ART OF DAN DECARLO collects the best of DeCarlo’s ink wash pin-up work for the company, which was part of Timely. This paperback original is actually the third Fantagraphics-published, Alex Chun edited collection of Humorama pin-up art. Last year Chun edited Humorama retrospectives on Bill Ward and Plastic Man creator, Jack Cole.
While this 5¾ x7¾ paperback isn’t as impressive as the Ward and Cole collections (especially the Ward), I would have to say it is the richest in terms of the quality of the art and gags. For one thing, DeCarlo’s style might have seemed simple, but he had an uncanny knack of creating seemingly hundreds of faces with a few strokes of his pen; something many artists can’t even do with 50 squiggly lines. No two cartoon girls (or guys, for that matter) in this book look alike. Secondly, the gags, probably written by whoever edited DeCarlo at the time, are really funny.
I like this little book, and it’s a must have for fans of both DeCarlo’s Archie comics and pin-up artists, as well as being the best value art book, in terms of content, on the comics market in years. A+