Johnny Bullet
Comic Strips
The Pin-up Art of Bill Wenzel (Humorama)
By Leroy Douresseaux

July 23, 2005 - 18:50

Publisher(s): Fantagraphics Books
Writer(s): Alex Chun
Penciller(s): Bill Wenzel
ISBN: 156097658-6; paperback original
200 pp. B&W w/green accent color, $18.95

Fantagraphics Books presents the fourth in its Alex Chun-edited series of books collecting the work of the pin-up artists who drew for Humorama digests (published by Abe Goodman, brother of Marvel Comics Martin Goodman), a series that has already seen gorgeously produced collections featuring the work of Bill Ward and Jack Cole. Editor Alex Chun and designer Jacob Covey, the team that gave us The Pin-Up Art of Dan DeCarlo, now give us a book similar in design to the DeCarlo tome, THE PIN-UP ART OF BILL WENZEL.

Bill Wenzel (1918-1987), according to Chun’s (as usual) brief but detailed and informative introduction, was probably as prolific as Bill Ward (who produced over 10,000 pin-up cartoons); Wenzel drew for Humorama in the 1950's and 60's. However, unlike most cartoonists who drew pin-up cartoons of thin-waist, long-legged girls, Wenzel’s calling card was the kind of thick, young lady that Ludacris likes to “pull.” With pen and ink and ink wash, Wenzel’s women have ample chests, curvaceous waists, and nice, round rears. Unlike Adam Hughes, Joe Jusko, and many current pin-up cover artists/painter/illustrators in comics and cartoons who draw the same woman over and over and over again, Wenzel created a variety of Rubenesque women that defies the imagination and can only be found in the real world.

According to Chun, Wenzel wrote most of his own gags for his cartoons, and Chun expertly picks out some winners. This book contains some fine pin-up cartoons featuring a diverse group of sexy girls and a varied collection of lustful men and angry wives, but it also displays some funny and clever humor – some of it risqué and very suggestive. How much imagination does it take to guess what’s about to happen in some of the cartoons’ honeymoon suite subjects? Once again, Chun does not disappoint, and The Pin-Up Art of Bill Wenzel is a sweet edition to any collection of pin-up cartoon art books. A-

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