Sunday, June 17, 2007

Number 148

Pussycat, Pussycat, I love you…

Did anyone ever draw glamorous, sexy chicks as well as Bill Ward?

Pussycat was a feature Ward did in the 1960s for Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman's line of men's magazines, after having established himself as a cartoonist of excellence in drawing the female form. Ward had worked as a comic book artist for years. He created super-siren Torchy, as well as being an artist specializing in love comics and several other genres, including Blackhawk. It was the pin-up art that made him famous, though.

Pussycat was a satire on the spy craze started by the James Bond phenomenon, continued on with TV shows like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (and The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart, et al.) The character she most resembled was Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's Annie Fanny in Playboy. Like Annie, Pussycat was an innocent, without guile. She apparently didn't understand the effect she was having on the men around her, who acted like horny idiots.

This particular strip was originally published in 1966, then reprinted in 1968 in a compilation magazine, Pussycat #1, listed in the indicia as being published by Marvel Comics. It contains one story by Wally Wood and another by Jim Mooney. The cover is by Bill Everett. The rest of it is all Ward.

Several books have been published reprinting Ward's pin-up cartoons. For years he sold about 30 of them a month to Goodman's Humorama Publications. You couldn't open one of those digest magazines without seeing a new Ward.

Years ago I got lucky and found some of Ward's cartoons for sale at a San Diego Comicon. I even found a rough he submitted for approval, most likely to the aforementioned humor magazines he contributed to so regularly.
Even though it's a rough he lavished his time and attention on the girl. The guys in his cartoons, and even in his comic strips* were drawn as generic guys, with a lot less attention than he gave to his girls. The guys in his cartoons all went crazy at the sight of a pretty girl. If you were ever to see a living Ward girl walk down the street you might go crazy too.

*Ward was also a regular for years in Cracked Magazine, sometimes under the name McCartney.

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