Thursday, April 29, 2010

Three things I learned from Dan DeCarlo's Jetta

I have a short Q-and-A style interview with comics historian and editor Craig Yoe about Dan DeCarlo, Jetta and Dan DeCarlo's Jetta (IDW Publishing), his new book collecting all three issues of the series and a bunch of pin-ups by 37 artists.

In addition to being a nice little bit of recovered comics history, an entertaining read, a collection of great comics art and a source of hours of Googling enjoyment scanning the home pages of the contributing pin-up artists, it's also a very educational book.

For example, here are three things I learned from it:

1.) Once upon a time, a "#1" on the cover of a comic book was seen as a deterrent rather than an enticement to buying a comic book. Jetta was only published for three issues, but those issues were numbered #5, #6 and #7. Why was that?

According to Yoe, "Many of [Jetta publisher] Standard's comics, like Jetta, began not with a number one issue, but with the number five. This was a ploy to fool newsstand dealers into thinking that it was a solid title with a track record."

Given that comics today are often relaunched, and publisher's occasionally go to great length to get a "#1" on the cover, I thought that was a pretty telling detail about how much the selling of comics has changed in the last fifty-some years or so.

2.) Betty Cooper cosplays as Black Canary. As you can see from the above image, a piece of original art DeCarlo drew for Will King. That's actually only half of the image, which is spread across two pages of Dan DeCarlo's Jetta, but I could only fit half of it on my scanner. DeCarlo drew Betty in Black Canary's original costume, so the other half has her high-heeled black boots with the pirate-y cuff, with DeCarlo's signature beneath it.

3.) Before Willie Lumpkin had The Baxter Building on his route, he starred in his own comic strip. Yoe includes a page of four comic strips in his introduction to the book. The first three are try-out strips form a newspaper syndicate, and the fourth one is the one above (which I've cut from it's four-panel horizontal strip format to make it fit better on a vertical blog like this). It's called Willie Lumpkin, and was published through Publishers Syndicate around 1960 or so. Look how young Willie was! (You can see a few more examples of the strip here).


Johnny Bacardi said...

That sketch of Betty as Black Canary just might be the single most awesome thing I've seen in my life.

So scan the other half already!

Unknown said...

johnny--buy the book, dude! ;)

Johnny Bacardi said...

If I can ever get the scratch together, I will!

Thomas said...

Should I feel wrong for finding that drawing of Betty cosplaying as Black Canary a whole heaping helping of sexy?

But then...I did date a girl once because of her uncanny resemblance to Dinah..