If you’ve ever read an Archie comic, you will know who Dan DeCarlo was. A phenomenal artist, DeCarlo joined Archie Comics in the 1950’s and for the next four decades, illustrated a number of titles from the company ( in fact, almost all the titles, I think). Over the years, DeCarlo’s linework changed from an angular, voluptuous style to a more streamlined, parent-friendly version. Part of the reason was that the company wanted a “house style”, a template for other artists to follow, so that the characters themselves looked constant throughout stories and different titles without kids having to choose between artist A’s version and artist B’s stylings.
Dan DeCarlo was a master of body language and expressions. His panels were simple, his drawings precise, using minimal lines to convey dramatic changes in mood. Odd little things would happen in the background, which you would notice if you looked carefully. He would squeeze in-jokes into his stories, a cute little puppy, a harried salesman, maybe a kid on a skateboard. But most of all, Dan specialised in drawing women. Hot women. His Betty and Veronica represent idealised cartoon hotness. Their appearance and clothing changing with the times, they are every adolescent kid’s fantasy, and Mr DeCarlo’s work ensured that three generations ( probably even more ) of Archie comic readers compared their first girlfriends to B&V.
Betty and Veronica in 1955.
Betty and Veronica, circa 1980s.
A little known aspect of DeCarlo’s career was that he also drew a number of risque pinups for Humorama magazine. While there was no outright nudity, the pinups were saucy enough. Quite a few of them have been published in the two books – The Pin-up Art of Dan DeCarlo ( a second volume of this is due this year ) and Innocence and Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo. A lot of the scans that I’m about to put up are from the books, and some of them are from Alex Chun’s ( who is one of the writers of the Pin-up Art of Dan DeCarlo ) personal collection.
( Some images ganked from CAF members. )