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Farewell to a Friend: Dan DeCarlo
Transcribed By Bruce Gomes (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Printed in Simpsons Comics #67 and Bart Simpson #7.
© Bongo Entertainment, Inc. , 2002.
Normally we reserve the Bongo Beat for good news, but this month will be an exception. It's my sad duty to report that the comics industry has lost a legendary artist and creator. On December 19th of last year, our friend Dan DeCarlo passed away from pneumonia at the age of 82. I'd like to take a few moments to remember the man.
Bongo readers have enjoyed Dan's recent artwork in the pages of Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror, Radioactive Man, and Bart Simpson comics, but he did a few notable things before he hooked up with us. For instance, Dan created memorable characters such as Josie and the Pussycats, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (with George Gladir) and drew Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica for over forty years!
I remember my first encounter with Dan's work. When I was about ten years old, I discovered Archive Comics and for a while I read nothing else. From the age of seven I had been caught up in the juvenile frenzy of Batmania, but at ten I was a sophisticated young man. The idea of chasing around the neighborhood in my plastic Bat-helmet and cape was unthinkable. So with a sailor cap from the local army surplus, a handful of novelty buttons and a pair of scissors, I made myself a crown! That's right, I said a crown, just like the one worn by my new hero, Jughead Jones! Although, when I wore it, I looked more like Goober Pyle from "Mayberry R.F.D." Now, at that tweenish-age, I loved girls. In fact, I had crushes on several of my female classmates, but I wasn't ready to admit that I even liked girls for fear of being teased. I know what you're thinking. "He was afraid of being teased, but he had no problem wearing a goofy-looking crown in public?" Well, it made perfect sense at the time because Jughead had a well-known aversion to women, but he was very cool. Plus, he loved hamburgers. Thus, he became the perfect role model for me, and the crown became my fashion statement. But looking back, I realize that my affinity for Jughead was just a cover. A dodge. An excuse for reading so-called "girl comics" like Betty and Veronica, Josie, and Sabrina. Jughead was fun, but I think the real reason I read Archive comics was to look at the beautiful girls drawn by Dan DeCarlo!
Of course, at the time, I had no idea who Dan DeCarlo was. Back then, comics rarely included credits for the folks who made them. People always say they referred to Disney comics artist Carl Barks as "the good duck artist" when his work was uncredited. Well, Dan was "the good Archie artist" to me. I don't want to diminish the other fine talents who have drawn those characters over the years, but Dan's art just jumped out at me. It was funny, sexy, dramatic, and wholesome all at the same time.
It was also great storytelling. Dan had a natural talent for choosing just the right shots, drawing just the right expressions, and his pacing and comic timing were flawless. Of course, I didn't think about that stuff at the age of ten. I only knew that I loved to read his stories.
I never dreamed that years later, I would meet this great artist, become his friend, and even have a chance to work with him. Imagine how an actor would feel if he or she had a chance to perform with someone like James Stewart or Katherine Hepburn. That's what it was like to work with Dan DeCarlo.
I believe Dan really enjoyed being a part of "The Simpsons." Throughout his life he always strived to stay young at heart and worked to keep up with the latest trends. And I think he was proud to have made his mark on yet another pop-culture phenomenon. I know that all of us at Bongo Comics will miss him and treasure the short time he spent with us in Springfield.
This page last updated on January 30, 2013 by Bruce Gomes (email@example.com)