I’ve written this before, but since that blog no longer exists the sentiment bears repeating: Dan DeCarlo is the Jack Kirby of teen humor comics.
Like the legendary King Kirby, DeCarlo’s distinctive style defined the way a certain genre of comics is drawn to this very day. During his 43-year tenure on Archie comics, DeCarlo modernized creator Bob Montana’s take on the characters and played a major role in ensuring the Riverdale teens remained relevant to generations of readers.
Along the way, DeCarlo created such memorable characters as Josie And The Pussycats, Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Cheryl Blossom.
Much like Jack Kirby, DeCarlo also left Archie comics under less than ideal circumstances with the artist unsuccessfully battling the publisher over ownership rights of his characters.
(The dispute is summed up in this rather condescending New York Times article, which notes the comic book industry’s sales decline but fails to anticipate the licensing boom major and some not-so-major publishers currently enjoy.)
Before Josie, Sabrina and even Archie, however, Dan DeCarlo made his mark on another famous teen-ager who starred In Marvel Comics’ longest running humor title: Millie The Model.
Debuting in 1945 and drawn by pioneering female cartoonist Ruth Atkinson, Millie and her friends were guided by DeCarlo’s talents from 1949-1959. As is the case with Archie, the cartoonist provided a template that was closely followed for the majority of Millie’s run until her numerous comics finally ended in in the early 1970s.
While Timely/Atlas/Marvel’s humor titles weren’t always particularly original, DeCarlo – like Al Jaffe on the publisher’s other teen icon, Patsy Walker – added substantial flair to what otherwise would have been run-of-the-mill adventures.
As an example, here’s a tale from the early ’50s that was signed – and probably written – by Stan Lee and “anonymously” drawn by DeCarlo. It originally appeared in Millie The Model #50 (Atlas, January 1954).
Gotta love Chili!