Dan DeCarlo
Dan DeCarlo
Born Daniel S. DeCarlo
December 12, 1919(1919-12-12)
New Rochelle, New York
Died December 18, 2001(2001-12-18) (aged 82)
New Rochelle, New York
Nationality American
Area(s) Penciller, Inker
Notable works Sabrina, the Teenage Witch
Josie and the Pussycats
Cheryl Blossom'
Awards National Cartoonists Society Award, 2000
Official website

Daniel S. DeCarlo (December 12, 1919 - December 18, 2001) was an American cartoonist best known as the artist who developed the look of Archie Comics in the late 1950s and early 1960s, modernizing the characters to their contemporary appearance and establishing the publisher's house style. As well, he is the generally recognized creator of the characters Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats (with the lead character named for his wife), and Cheryl Blossom.



Early life and career

Dan DeCarlo was born in New Rochelle, New York,[1] the son of a gardener.[2] He attended New Rochelle High School in his hometown, followed by Manhattan's Art Students League from 1938 to 1941, when he was drafted into the U.S. Army. Stationed in Great Britain, he worked in the motor pool and as a draftsman, and painted company mascots on the noses of airplanes. He also drew a weekly military comic strip, 418th Scandal Sheet.[3] He met his wife, French citizen Josie Dumont, in Belgium not long after the Battle of the Bulge.[1]

Atlas and Archie

Sherry the Showgirl #2 (Sept. 1956). Cover art by DeCarlo.

DeCarlo was married, with a pregnant wife, and a laborer working for his father when he began to pursue a professional art career [2] Circa 1947, answering an ad, he broke into the comic book industry at Timely Comics, the 1940s iteration of Marvel Comics. Under editor-in-chief Stan Lee, his first assignment was the teen-humor series Jeanie. DeCarlo went uncredited, as was typical for most comic-book writers and artists of the era, and he recalled in 2001, "I went on with her maybe ten books. They used to call me 'The Jeanie Machine' because that was all Stan used to give me, was Jeanie.... Then he took me off Jeannie and he gave me Millie the Model. That was a big break for me. It wasn't doing too well and somehow when I got on it became quite successful."[2]

He went on to an atypically long, 10-year run on that humor series, from issues #18-93 (June 1949 - Nov. 1959), most of them published by Marvel's 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics.[4] For a decade, DeCarlo wrote and drew the slapsticky adventures of Millie Collins, her redheaded friendly nemesis Chili Storm and the rest of the cast. He also contributed the short-lived Sherry the Showgirl and Showgirls for Atlas.[5] In 1960, he and Atlas editor-in-chief Stan Lee co-created the short-lived syndicated comic strip Willie Lumpkin, about a suburban mail carrier,[6] for the Chicago, Illinois-based Publishers Syndicate.[2] A version of the character later appeared as a long-running minor supporting character in Lee's later co-creation, the Marvel Comics series Fantastic Four

In addition to his comic-book work, DeCarlo drew freelance pieces for the magazines The Saturday Evening Post and Argosy, as well as Timely/Atlas publisher Martin Goodman's Humorama line of pin-up girl cartoon digests.[1]

DeCarlo first freelanced for Archie Comics, the company with which he would become most closely associated, in the late 1950s while still freelancing for Atlas. He said in 2001,

I was looking for extra work. I went down to see Harry Shorten [at Archie] and he gave me a job. The pay wasn't too good, but I did it and he liked it — but I didn't go back right away. Finally after two or three weeks go, he called me up and wanted to know what happened, why I wasn't around. I said, 'Well, you know I'm very busy.' ... I had Millie the Model, I had My Friend Irma, Big Boy. ... I told him, 'The people that I'm working for now let me do my own thing. But when I do work for you, it's "Draw like Bob Montana." And it's hard to look at your reference, and then back at your own page. It's very slow, and very tedious and I didn't like it too much.' He said, 'Come on in, and you can draw any way you like.' That made me go back with him.[2]

DeCarlo in the late 1950s and early 1960s modernized the looks of Archie Comics' teen-humor characters to their contemporary appearance, and established the house style.[7] As well, he is the generally recognized creator of the teen-humor characters Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Josie and the Pussycats, and Cheryl Blossom.[3]

Original art panels from "The Reformer" in Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #157 (Jan. 1969), featuring (l. to r.) Veronica Lodge and Archie Andrews. Penciled by DeCarlo, inked by Rudy Lapick.



DeCarlo said he created Josie on his own in the late 1950s; his wife, named Josie, said in an interview quoted in a DeCarlo obituary, "We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a [cat] costume for the cruise, and that's the way it started."[1] DeCarlo first tried to sell the character as a syndicated comic strip called Here's Josie, recalling in 2001:

When Publishers Syndicate in Chicago got interested in Willie Lumpkin ... I was also hustling my own strip and trying to get it published. Before we got to Publishers Syndicate, I went to United Feature in New York with two strips — Barney's Beat and Josie. [United Feature] told me they liked them both, and they'd like to see more samples, because I didn't bring much. I brought maybe six dailies of Barney's Beat and six dailies of Josie. That posed a problem for me. I knew I couldn't handle both strips and still keep up with the comic book work, because a syndicated bit was very risky. So, I decided to shelve Josie, and concentrated on Willie Lumpkin. [When that strip ended after] a year, maybe a year and a half[,] I quickly submitted the Josie strip back to the publishers and Harold Anderson, and he sent it back and said, 'It's not what we're looking for, Dan, but keep up the good work,' or words of that kind. Then is when I decided to take it to Archie to see if they could do it as a comic book. I showed it to Richard Goldwater, and he showed it to his father, and a day or two later I got the OK to do it as a comic book.[2]

Josie was introduced in Archie's Pals 'n' Gals #23.[citation needed] The first issue of She's Josie followed, cover-dated February 1963.[9] The series featured levelheaded, sweet-natured Josie (whose last name was given as either Jones or James), her blond bombshell friend Melody, and bookwormish brunette Pepper. These early years also featured the characters of Josie and Pepper's boyfriends Albert and Sock (real name Socrates); Albert's rival Alexander Cabot III; and Alex's twin sister Alexandra. Occasionally Josie and her friends would appear in "crossover" issues with the main Archie characters. She's Josie was renamed Josie with issue #17 (Dec. 1965),[10] and again renamed, to Josie and the Pussycats, with issue #45 (Dec. 1969), whereby Pepper was replaced by Valerie and Albert was replaced by Alan. M. Under this title, the series finished its run with issue #106 (Oct. 1982).[11] Josie and her gang also made irregular appearances in Pep Comics and Laugh Comics during the 1960s.

1956 example of DeCarlo's cartoon work for men's magazines. "Allan, are you trying to pull the wool over my eyes?"

When Universal Pictures was preparing the live-action movie adaptation Josie and the Pussycats in 2001, DeCarlo and Archie Comics became involved in a lawsuit over the character's creation, leading the publisher to terminate its 43-year relationship with him. A federal district court ruled in 2001 that Archie Comics owned the copyright to the Josie characters; this decision was affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.[12] On December 11, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal filed by DeCarlo's attorney, Whitney Seymour Jr., who had argued that the issue was a matter of state property law and not federal copyright law.[12]

DeCarlo was listed as a creator in the end credits of Josie and the Pussycats, which did poorly at the box office. He did receive a bonus[citation needed] and credit as co-creator of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, which became a live-action television show.

Among DeCarlo's final works were a story for Paul Dini's independent comics series Jingle Belle, and stories for Bongo Comics' The Simpsons TV tie-in comic, Bart Simpson.


DeCarlo died in New Rochelle, New York, of pneumonia, according to his wife. Comics creator Paul Dini said upon DeCarlo's death, "It was tragic that when he was at an age when many cartoonists are revered as treasures by more beneficent publishers, Dan felt spurned and slighted by the owners of properties that prospered greatly from his contributions."[7]


His twin sons, Dan Jr. and James "Jim" DeCarlo (January 27, 1948[citation needed] - ?) were also prolific "Archie" artists, pencilling and inking respectively.[13] The two predeceased their father.[3]


DeCarlo won the National Cartoonists Society Award for Best Comic Book in 2000 for Betty & Veronica. He was nominated for the Shazam Award for Best Penciller (Humor Division) in 1974.


DeCarlo is cited, along with fellow Archie artist Harry Lucey and others as being a strong artistic influence on alternative comics creators Jaime Hernandez and Gilberto Hernandez, two of the three sibling co-creators of the long-running series Love and Rockets.[14]


My Friend Irma #5 (Oct. 1950). Cover art by DeCarlo.
  1. ^ a b c d Nash, Eric. "Dan DeCarlo, Archie Artist and Creator Of Josie and the Pussycats, Is Dead at 82", The New York Times, December 23, 2001
  2. ^ a b c d e f Carter, B. J. "Interview: Dan DeCarlo: Archie, Josie and Dan", The Trades, January 1, 2002. WebCite archive.
  3. ^ a b c Woollcombe, Alan. "Dan DeCarlo" (obituary), The Independent (UK), January 1, 2002. WebCitation archive.
  4. ^ Millie the Model at the Grand Comics Database
  5. ^ Dan DeCarlo at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Dan DeCarlo at the Lambiek Comiclopedia
  7. ^ a b "Dan DeCarlo Dead at Age of 82: Artist Defined Archie Comics Style for Decades, Comic Book Resources, December 20, 2001
  8. ^ Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #157 at the Grand Comics Database.
  9. ^ She's Josie at the Grand Comics Database
  10. ^ Josie at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Josie and the Pussycats at the Grand Comics Database
  12. ^ a b Dean, Mike. "Supreme Court Rejects DeCarlo Appeal", The Comics Journal #240 (January 2002), at WebCitation archive.
  13. ^ Dan & James DeCarlo Jr., Lambiek Comiclopedia. Accessed March 18, 2008
  14. ^ Hatfield, Charles. Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2005. p. 72

External links

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