Friday, March 18, 2016

Number 1868: Torchy and Nanny

Bill Ward (1919-1998) drew pretty girls. They were his specialty. Not just pretty girls, but eye-popping sexy girls. In his comic book career he spent time on drawing the non-sexy elements of comic art, too. Like cars, buildings, and men. In his last couple of decades Ward’s girls were the focus of his cartoons and artwork, and everything else looks like it just wasn’t as important.

Here are Torchy, as represented from her second story, drawn by Ward for Doll Man Quarterly #9 (1946), and a much later story from Cracked #179 (1981) featuring the sexy Nanny Dickering in one of a continuing series of interview satires. The Nanny strip appears not to use any reference material...the dog in the first panel, the poorly done caricatures of stars (and why a photo of Bo Derek instead of a drawing?), and even using Linus (of Peanuts) instead of Charlie Brown, who is mentioned in the the speech balloon. Who does not know the difference between Charlie Brown and Linus?! (Imagine Pappy in an outraged huff .)

Okay. I took a short walk and I feel better. At least Ward spent time with Nanny, rendering her lovingly, as he did with all his pin-up girls. I like the airbrush effects on Nanny, including her patterned nylons in the splash panel. They disappear after that panel, which is just one more complaint. That’s too many, even for me, so I’m going out for another walk.


Daniel [] said...

I first became aware of Bill Ward from an interest in sexology, and it was only very much later — perhaps by way of your 'blog! — that I learned that he'd had a career in mainstream comic books. (I rarely looked at Cracked.)

His overt erotica isn't at all to my liking, but my familiarity with it was once helpful in limiting the embarrassment of a friend. I had been called to help him resolve some computer problems, and came upon a cache of Ward's dominatrix pictures in process. I just casually said “Oh. Ward.” and kept moving.

His work for Quality was better than his later stuff, but Torchy's personality is quite unappealing to me — she's not bright, her discernible interests are superficial when not primitive, and I've yet to see her display any kindness; she might as well be a housecat. And, if I were simply looking at a single picture, out of context, it wouldn't be much more interesting to me than is the typical Curt Teich pin-up postcard of the era.

Russ said...

I regret that I did not know about Nanny in my adolescent years, but if you go back to those old issues of Cracked there is some amazing art by Ward,and especially Severin and others. The writing was pretty lame, but teenage me would've paid close attention to Ward's women.

I've only recently (thanks to the corrupting influence of the internet) discovered the perpetually naked Cher D'Flower drawn by Jack Sparling for Sick Magazine. If I'd seen those as a kid my brains might've fallen out.

Grant said...

I don't know the whole history of the character, but I know that "Nanny Dickering" started out as an imitation of the Juliet Mills sitcom character of "Nanny and the Professor." (I guess they were following Mad Magazine's lead of having cartoon versions of celebrities interview people, and sometimes they would be cartoons of actual interviewers like Dick Cavett, but other times they would be any given celebrity.)
Again, I don't know the ins and outs of it, but I guess that along the way she became the character you see here.

Pappy said...

Grant, I don't know the complete story either, but it is my understanding that Nanny (at least her name and job as "journalist") was based on Nancy Dickerson, who was one of the first, if not the first, woman to break through in network television news, circa 1960.

Dickerson's son, John, is now the host of Face the Nation on CBS.

Pappy said...

Russ, I read references to Sick, but the local magazine distributor must not have carried it, because I only saw the first few issues on the stands.

"Naked Cher D'Flower"...hmmm. Guess I'll have to check that out!

Cracked is a magazine I did not buy off the stands, but now when I find copies I buy them. Go figure...I stopped buying Mad sometime in the mid-'70s, so I guess I got tired of it. I also pick up issues of that when I find them. (I could have saved myself the trouble by buying them off the stands, but why do things the easy way?)

Grant said...

I'm not sure if I know of Nancy Dickerson, but that's interesting. Now I can see how she was drawn to look like Juliet Mills, because they must have taken that reporter's name "Nancy" and made one of those "composite" characters. (Even if it might have been "reaching" a little to come up with that joke.) Of course, the version you see here seemed to come along pretty quickly.
I'm afraid I've never known Torchy at all except for small references and scans, and if I did I could probably sympathize with Daniel's and Pappy's comments about her personality, but it probably would've been all right with me. I've always been fond of Chili the model, who along with being aloof was an all-out comical schemer, although the kind whose schemes always foul up. I'm terrible about the history of comics, but I'm pretty sure villains have seldom gotten their own titles, including light comedy villains and villainesses, so (if I'm right) Chili was an exception to that also.

Pappy said...

Dan'l, possibly unlike you I never outgrew my adolescent self, at least when it came to sex. And comics. And movies.

Oh well.

I am kinder than you in my assessment of Torchy because she was not a "real" girl, but a stereotype of a sex goddess who does not have sex, but is there to tantalize, baffle and ultimately frustrate men.

Pappy said...

Grant, you didn't mention if you have ever seen Ward's Pussycat. She was not his creation, but he drew several of her adventures for Martin Goodman's line of men's magazines.

Like Torchy, Pussycat did not fully appreciate her effect on men, or least she didn't appear to see it. The joke is to have a heroine who is kind of oblivious (even dumb), yet with a sexy body, dressed provocatively, who innocently causes havoc.

Hairy Green Eyeball showed the one-shot Pussycatissue from 1968.

Grant said...

No, I've never seen it, but she looks great, with a sort of Carol Wayne / Nina Wayne look. (And probably others I can't think of just now.)

Kirk said...

Growing up I picked up Cracked or Sick if a new issue of Mad wasn't available (as it often wasn't, it being a bimonthly.) I seem to remember Sick and Cracked sharing a lot of the same cartoonists, though I don't believe Ward was one of them. Sick was edited by Joe Simon. Sick was funnier than Cracked but not as funny as Mad, though it was a lot more raunchier than either Mad or Cracked. In addition to a centerfold parody (Charlie Brown, Archie Bunker--no, you didn't see their privates, it wasn't THAT raunchy) I remember a lot of toilets pictured throughout the magazine. On the cover of Sick's first (and possibly only paperback collection) Huckleberry Fink, the Alfred E. Newman-like mascot, is seen sitting on a toilet. After laboring under the comic code all those years, Simon must have wanted to let his hair down (as well as Fink's pants)

I shouldn't leave out Marvel's contribution to the genre, Crazy. Again, good art, but not as funny as Mad.

Pappy said...

Grant, I can tell you go way back. Carol and Nina Wayne, no less. Good choices, and thanks.

Pappy said...

Kirk, I'm more sure than ever now that I did not see Sick on local newsstands. Thanks for the information.