THE PIN-UP ART OF DAN DECARLO 2
Drawn by Dan De Carlo
Edited and Designed by Alex Chun and Jacob Covey
Published by Fantagraphics
Dan De Carlo was one of my all-time favorite artists. As silly as Archie and his cast could be, I was always captivated by the man’s art, and by Betty and Veronica as drawn by his pencil. But my appreciation of the man grew deeper as I explored his career and was introduced to his earlier work, not only in comics, but also as a pin-up artist. His contributions to Humorama magazines in the late 1950s were completely different from the material that fans like myself grew up with, but they are a vital part of understanding who the man was as an artist. That’s what made volume one of this series so essential, as well as Bill Morrison’s INNOCENCE AND SEDUCTION: THE ART OF DAN DE CARLO.
This book, which collects more of De Carlo’s single-panel gags from that era, doesn’t quite rise to the level of the two previous books, though I don’t really think it could. Here we get 200 more pages of art, most never seen or reprinted anywhere previously, and that’s a gift, definitely. Not a single panel here doesn’t look beautiful. But we also see signs here that, as a writer, De Carlo was an amazingly gifted artist. There are also some indications of De Carlo running out of steam for doing these bits, as panel layout starts to lose some style and similarities from bit to bit start to settle in somewhat.
De Carlo’s strength, unquestionably, was the way he drew women, and the women in this book are astounding from cover to cover. Unlike the sanitized view of the 50s we get from most of the era’s popular culture, people did have sex without being married, cheated on their spouses, seduced their way into money, and generally behaved like horny jackasses. It’s a nice reminder that people never really change, and the material printed here certainly does that with style.
Production-wise, the book is every bit the equal of volume one. Chun and Covey put together a terrific package, and at nineteen dollars it’s a bargain for any fan that picks it up. I suppose it’s odd to pick at the book because of De Carlo’s weakening skills at writing jokes- after all, who is really buying the book for the text? But I do think it’s fair to point out that even the greats have their Achilles’ heels, and this second volume puts this particular legend’s on display. It also would imply that a third volume could see a diminished return should Chun and Covey go that route.
Still- I’d want it on my shelf.