Pin-Up Art of Bill Ward, The: By Alex Ward & Jacob Covey. 268 pgs. By Norb

Jul 16, 2007

Fourth in the series of Fantagraphics Books’ showcases of ‘50s/’60s humor digest pin-up artists, I can describe this volume’s contents no better than this excerpt from Coop’s preface: “…overly elaborate hairstyle, baby face, bee-stung lips, huge gravity-defying breastmeat cantilevered out over a wasp waist and shapely hips, and mile-long legs encased in shiny stockings and set atop sexy stilettos, all rendered with a fetishist’s zeal.” Ultimately, while nine out of ten American males would probably have a quicker and easier release time spanking it to the girl in a Bill Ward gag cartoon than a female rendered by Dan DeCarlo (the first book in the series and the only other one I’ve read), I still prefer the Dan DeCarlo volume; part of this is, no doubt, due to the DeCarlo/Betty and Veronica connection, but part of it is also due to the innovative use of two-color printing (black and red) in the DeCarlo book, gone missing here. I realize that a critical element of Ward’s visual style was to utilize the Conté crayon to create his trademark “shine” effect on the stockings of his subjects, and that this stylistic deliverable is likely at odds with the introduction of a second color (i.e., red or whatever) to the artwork, but one might do well to note that the pages of the book are a sort of cream color, and check out the illustration on page fourteen, which is printed on a white page which is PRINTED to look like it’s a matching cream color as the brunt of the rest of the pages. In this page, the cream coloration is missing from various areas of pure white on the girl, and it looks tremendous—exactly the type of graphical punch that was present in the DeCarlo book that I feel is lacking from the Bill Ward book. Now, I realize that printing every page in full color to simulate a cream colored background, just so that various areas could be left white, is not a cost-effective solution, but couldn’t they have found some kind of white ink that could be printed over the cream-colored pages to simulate the cream colored ink over the white background of page fourteen? I mean, heck…I think you’d have PLENTY of volunteers to get the Bill Ward girls some “white ink,” if ya know what I mean… - Rev. Norb ($19.95, Fantagraphics Books, 7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle WA 98115)