Books — The Pin-Up Art of Dan De Carlo
The Pin-Up Art of Dan De Carlo

By Amy Diaz

The sexy side of Archie’s father

Comic artist De Carlo bakes up some cheesecake 

The Pin-Up Art of Dan De Carlo, by Alex Chun & Jacob Covery, Fantagraphics Books, 2005, 214 pages.

Aw, it’s the cutest little porn ever!

Actually, the works of famed Archie comics artist Dan De Carlo isn’t, strictly speaking, porn. But it’s a lot more risqué than Riverdale.

The book is full of De Carlo’s works that appeared in the Humorama magazines — cheap pulp magazines full of cheesecake, both cartoon and photographs. The pin-up art displayed in this collection shows buxom, curvaceous blondes, brunettes and redheads in lascivious embrace with men who are, on average, at least 20 years older than them. Bosses — office men talking to secretaries and household heads talking to maids — proposition, leer and discipline (yes, spanking) girls with gravity-defying physiques and Barbie doll-perfect hair and features.

The result? It’s adorable!

I know of no other way to describe these Marilyn Monroe wannabes in their revealing outfits (a bit of stocking and garter belt shows here, some nipple there). The entrendres aren’t double — they barely rise to the level of a single.

“A great suggestion, Miss Haley — I’ll be up to your apartment at eight!” says a balding company president to a girl with Betty’s hair but boobs that even Veronica would have wished for. Lingerie-wearing bimbos are forever accidentally showing up to work having forgotten to wear clothes or surprised by a sudden gust of wind that gives a restaurant or a park full of people a look at the lace, frills and well-placed pasties.

What I find so completely charming about this type of girlie-gazing is the total lack of guile. There is no cleverness here, no meanness, no thought of any kind. Each picture can be summed up by the description: look at the girl with the big knockers and the plump tush.

Of course, that’s the other reason I dig this collection of cartoons. The girls may be dumb — heck, girls never come off looking all that bright in a boys-only publication, see for example Maxim — but they aren’t waify. These girls don’t just embody cheesecake; they’ve clearly had a few slices. Sure, their waists are impossibly small but this was the 1950s and bustlines and hips take the hourglass standard to the extreme.

See that? Irony and the girlie feminists save the day again.

—Amy Diaz

2005 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH