Pin-up QSL

N2ZEB ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTYou’re probably wondering why the girl in my latest custom QSL looks like she belongs in an Archie comic — right?

There’s a story behind that.

A few months back, Vartan, N2ZEB, asked me to draw a QSL for him with a pin-up girl in it, Vartan’s other hobby being pin-up photography. For inspiration, I went back to one of my artistic heroes, long-time Archie Comics artist Dan DeCarlo. He drew Archie and the gang for more than 40 years and very much defined their look. If you’ve read an Archie comic any time from the 1950s to the 1990s, you’ve almost certainly seen DeCarlo’s work — or, at least, work by other artists trying to imitate him. The illustration of The Archies singing group that graced their first album is classic Dan DeCarlo.The Archies by Dan DeCarlo

What most people don’t know about DeCarlo, though, is that before Archie, he earned a living drawing girly cartoons like the one below for “gentlemen’s magazines.” Yes, really.

DeCarlo’s pre-Archie cartoons are fairly tame by 21st-century standards, but the girls he drew were undeniably sexy. Ever wonder why Betty and Veronica were so stacked? It’s because DeCarlo had a lot of practice drawing girls that way. For Archie, he actually (and appropriately) reined it in a little bit.

Dan DeCarlo pinupAnd that’s where I was challenged — I’m so accustomed to drawing “cute” that “sexy” isn’t quite in my artistic arsenal. I’m happy with N2ZEB’s QSL as far as I could take it, but, honestly, it ended up looking more like Betty all dolled up than the kind of girl that would provoke wolf whistles in one of DeCarlo’s classic pin-up cartoons. At least you can take her home to meet mom. You might even be able to talk her into getting a Tech license!

 

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