CARTOONIST: Don Flowers
EDITOR: Alex Chun
ISBN: 156097713-2; paperback
296 pp., B&W interiors, $19.95
Although there has been a recent surge of interest in pin-up art and cartoons, Don Flowers is unknown except by experts and historians of the pin-up genre. Yet there was a time when newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst so badly wanted Flowers to join his stable of cartoonists at King Features Syndicate that Hearst sent his personal secretary to convince Flowers to join. Now, more people are about to discover the fluid line of Don Flowers thanks to the fifth book in Fantagraphics series of retrospectives on pin-up illustrators and cartoonist, THE GLAMOUR GIRLS OF DON FLOWERS, which takes its name from the single panel feature that Flowers did for King Features, Glamour Girls.
Flowers was a disciple of another cartoonist, Russell Patterson (also the subject of an upcoming Fanta retrospective), but savvy readers will recognize the influence of Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketcham in Flower’s quicksilver line. Delicately spotted blacks embellish line work seemingly delivered in sword strokes that would turn Zorro green with envy. This volume also includes are several examples of Flowers earlier work: his first syndicated feature, Puffy the Pig; his comic strip Oh, Diana!, produced for 12 years and ended in the early 1940’s; and Modest Maidens, the single panel cartoon that would become the template for Glamour Girls.
Glamour Girls’ subject matter was standard matter for pinup cartoons of the 40’s to the 60’s. Blonds and brunettes shop and generally cause their husbands, boyfriends, lovers, and suitors grief. Flowers set many of his cartoons at cocktail parties, in offices and stores, on the beaches, and often in homes. One thing that does make his work standout is that while the beautifully drawn women were the eye candy of his cartoon, the men were often the characters that drove the gags. In a lot of ways, Glamour Girls was a domestic comedy with pretty girls, but the girls weren’t necessarily the focus.
As usual, editor and pinup art expert, Alex Chun, does a superb job, just as he’s done with the other volumes in the pinup retrospective series. The selection of cartoons encompasses Flowers best work. Chun’s Foreword puts Flowers work in the context of its time and gives us a fine overview of his career. Art director Jacob Covey’s design work takes this digest book and transforms it into a volume that looks as good as the art it holds inside its covers. We get a bonus introduction to the volume by a cartoonist Flowers influenced, Sergio Aragones. Don Flowers, Jr. nicely closes this fine volume with an Afterword – one more reason that The Glamour Girls of Don Flowers is an essential for fans of pinup art.