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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YL power!

AB4YL ham radio cartoon QSL by N2ESTAllison, AB4YL, has just about the coolest call ever for a YL. She’s also a friend; my wife Gail, N2ART, and I know her through our home club, the Alford Memorial Radio Club in Stone Mountain, Ga. That’s also where Allison serves as secretary. Being asked to create her QSL was an honor.

The QSL cartoon had to have three things in it: Allison (natch); her olive-green Jeep Wrangler; and her beloved dog, Matsi. I hope I did all three justice. The back of her card has two logos: Alford’s, and the logo of the Young Ladies Radio League. If you’re a YL and don’t yet belong, check it out.

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Wearing of the green, amateur-radio style

W1LGU cartoon QSL by N2ESTCarol, W1LGU, already had a cartoon QSL that reflected her phonetics — “Little Green Umbrella” — but wanted something more polished. That’s when she contacted me.

I used Carol’s basic design, refining its composition and adding touches specific to her station, including cartoon versions of her Heil microphone and Kenwood TS-590 transceiver. I also ensured that her code key was front-and-center because she’s a hardcore CW operator. Finally, I put as much green into the card as humanly possible.

I finished it yesterday, to Carol’s delight: “It is definitely exactly what I had hoped for in a QSL card,” she told me via email. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found you!”

Coincidentally, this almost-all-green-card went to press today — on St. Patrick’s Day. Were leprechauns responsible? Probably.

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