|Title: Innocence and Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo
Author: Bill Morrison
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Genres:: Erotic Art
Reviewer: J. Arathoon
Reviewer: J. Arathoon
Innocence and Seduction, The Art of Dan DeCarlo is a lush, gorgeous book that showcases the art of DeCarlo, a man best known for being the originating Betty and Veronica and Josie and the Pussycats, among others. Beginning as a part-time freelancer, DeCarlo worked until his style became synonymous with all the Archie characters. His love of the female form and understanding of sex and sales helped shaped those now-classic icons.
The book tells the story of DeCarlo’s life, but the primary focus is his artistic career. His creative history is thoroughly explained, though his personal issues often seem like an afterthought. Both the death of his two sons and his struggle with cancer are dealt with in one measly paragraph. Although it might have been nice to see more of an interplay between the man’s life and his art, such a connection might have seemed forced.
DeCarlo’s career was largely dominated by his work for Betty and Veronica and other, similar projects. For this reason, although filled with pictures of gorgeous young women, the book rarely gets above a PG level. The only exception comes in the middle section, which displays the work DeCarlo did for Humorama, a line of men’s humor magazines. When working for Humorama, DeCarlo was allowed to draw whatever images he felt like, and the editor would supply a punch line. This freedom allowed DeCarlo plenty of room to draw semi-nude women, and these picture are lush and lovely—although the editor was often hard-pressed to come up with a gag to go with them.
Aside from these and a couple side projects for the Batman and The Simpsons strips, the book is largely a chronicle of his various, but similar, projects for teen magazines like Betty and Veronica, Archie and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The story tying them all together isn’t always a page turner, but that is of little consequence. The point of the book, and of DeCarlo’s art, is the enjoyment of and affection for the female form. On every page, beautiful women with wasp-like waists and torpedo-shaped breasts strut; some are aware of their sensuality, some are oblivious, but all are varied and lovely and completely absorb the attention of the generally somewhat dowdy male characters who share their worlds.
Though the book is fun throughout, one of the best parts comes right in the beginning, when DeCarlo, an assistant draftsmen in WWII, uses his burgeoning art skills to woo and win the hand of French beauty Josie Dumont—the woman for whom Josie of Josie and the Pussycats would eventually be named. A series of informal cartoons chronicle the highlights and misadventures of their courtship, and is a loving, lasting tribute to the love they found and shared until his death.
this review to a friend