THE PIN-UP
ART OF DAN
DECARLO
VOL. 1 & 2
2005/2007
Fantagraphic Books
In his introduction in vol. 2 of this pin-up series, Love & Rockets co-creator Jaime Hernandez wrote about how he marveled
over Dan’s Archies work; how Betty & Veronica were drawn “with eyelids and longer lashed or overexposed their hips….
whenever he wanted to turn on the heat.” It wasn’t until he later discovered Dan’s pin-up work where he had another
revelation. “I absolutely could not believe he was holding back with his Archie work.” He added, “compared to the women in
this book, Betty & Veronica were babies. Discovering this girlie mag stuff was expecting a bike for Christmas and getting a
car, I had no idea Dan DeCarlo could be better….”

For those who admired Dan’s pin-up quality with his Archie Comics output will probably feel pleasantly shocked as
Hernandez was with this set. Betty & Veronica might has been cute and innocently sexy teenagers, but once the curtain was
pulled back, there were full-grown bountiful women waiting in the wings as if Archie left Riverdale for New York City (
or Las
Vegas
) with its many nightclubs and street corners populated with showgirls and golddiggers. The clique of a backwater
hick going to the Big City is all the blindly obvious.

Much like his output for Archies, Dan’s pun-up work for publisher Humorama with their titles such as Jet, Gaze and Jest was
plentiful and were of consistent high quality. According to the book notes, he averaged 10 illustrations per month. They were
such on an artistic level that his work stood out from almost the rest of the standard low-quality art that were used. ‘Almost’
as there were a very small handful of artists on Dan’s level that could found in these same pages like Wally Wood, Jack Cole
and Bill Ward.

The first volume was published by Fantagraphic Books in 2005 and was edited by Alex Chun and designed by Jacob Covey.
Outside of the introduction piece by Bill Morrison and an editor’s note explaining Humorama’s history, the rest of the 216
pages is nothing but Dan’s pin-up work; some full page, some close-ups and, reflecting Humorama’s original cheap
production, single color tone of red.

Volume Two followed in 2007 with the same crew and page number as before, only with, as noted above, Jamie Hernandez
introduction instead of Morrison’s.

In-between the covers of both editions are loaded with gag cartoons by Dan featuring healthy curvy attractive women, usually
as showgirls dealing with “fans”, gold-diggers looking for sugar-daddies, wives of cheating husbands (and vise versa) etc.,
in various sexy situations. Some today might take offence with the outdated and slightly un-P.C. ‘battle of the sexes’ based
humor presented here, especially compared to Archie Comics, but the level of adult humor here are more of a wink-wink
nudge-nudge, hanky-panky variety with various stages of undress but no nudity and rough stuff …and with a small side order
of spanking for you fetishists out there. It should be noted here that, snuck in both books, are a piece or two of
commissioned work Dan had done in the early 2000’s, proving he still had the pin-up touch!
On a personal note: if you’re not careful,
looking at page after page after page of
shapely bodies with…well, let it be
said…bazooka sized breasts might make you
feel dizzy. Not that I’m complaining, but just
warning ya…..

These books and the similar companion pin-
up compilations by Fantagraphic also serve as
a small window of a sub-culture that had risen
out of the post-WW2 world, it’s “loosening
morals” and growing popularity of men’s
magazines. Of course, all of this would lead to
and be overshadowed by the arrival of Hugh
Hefner’s Playboy Magazine in 1953 that offered
not just higher quality pin-ups, but tasteful
photos of the real deal!

DeCarlo left the Humorama fold in the early
1960’s to considerate solely on Archie’s
Comics and the rest is history. The publisher
he left behind would recycle his work for a
decade, as noted in the dates marked in the
back of his old illustrations printed in volume
two. By the 80’s, they would disappear and be
replaced by hardcore fare.

For those who are curious about Dan’s pin-up
output, at least one of these books should take
care of your interest.

A small warning: according to
Fantagraphics’s web site, Volume 1 is
currently out-of-stock and out-of-print. So grab
‘em while you can!
RIGHT: just a very small sample of
the dizziness to come
In Print index