Long a staple of girls comics, the reader-suggested fashion page is, or was, a vital link between reader and publisher, allowing girls to dream of future glamorous careers as fashion designers while allowing writers and artists a chance to slack off and let somebody else figure out what Katy Keene is going to wear today or whether Patsy Walker should be wearing a sack dress or a chemise. And ace Betty & Veronica artist Dan DeCarlo, when delineating the delectable debutantes with dash and delicacy, was not above digging through the reader mail for suggestions.
But upon closer examination, we find that sometimes Dan didn't have to travel very far to find these ideas.
In fact, turns out sometimes all Dan had to do was holler down the stairs at his kids! This page was suggested by Dan's own son Dan Jr. whose full name and address are helpfully given out to hundreds of thousands of Betty & Veronica fans. Nowadays we're all frightened of identity theft, but back in the 60s nobody worried about stuff like that.
Even when Dan was working for Stan Lee at Marvel Com... I mean, Atlas Comics, he was using his own home-grown idea factory to provide Millie The Model with the sure fire one-liners that kept America laughing.
This image, complete with Scarsdale address, is from Bill Morrison's great book "Innocence And Seduction: The Art Of Dan DeCarlo." Though if anybody wants to send us original DeCarlo artwork we will not say no.
Meanwhile at Veronica's house she's putting brush to easel and showing that bleached hussy Betty who has the artistic talent in THIS comic book! And which complete stranger suggested THESE fashions?
Yup, she's Josie, all right! Josie Dumont DeCarlo, that is - wife of Dan, mother of James and Dan Jr., inspiration for Josie & The Pussycats. When in Scarsdale, be sure and ring the bell and ask if Pepper or Sock are around! Actually don't do that.
At this point we're forced to wonder if ALL the "reader suggestions" were simply Dan exercising a little nepotism.
Veronica shows off her new hip-huggers in fashions suggested by... dare we say a member of the DeCarlo family, no relation to the DiFranco Family?
Oh, okay, it's TONY DeCarlo, of New Rochelle. I'm sure he was no relation whatsoever to the DeCarlos who live in the next town over, who drew this comic book. No sir.
A gentler time, perhaps, when one felt safe putting one's own name and address in public view next to Veronica's twisting feet. Will we ever see such innocence again? Will the twist return? What will become of the pent-up backlog of fashion ideas swelling the heads of American girl-children? I say, let's let readers tell us what they want our comic book characters to wear, even if they HAVEN'T finished their homework or mowed the lawn yet.
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