Wednesday, January 16, 2008


In the late fifties Stan & Dan, as they affectionately called themselves in the comics, created a new strip called Barney's Beat, centered around an easygoing city cop. At the same time, deCarlo developed a strip on his own called Josie, another in a long list of dumb blondes. This time the main character was named after deCarlo's wife. He even gave her his wife's hairdo. Publisher's Syndicate was most interested in Barney's Beat, but asked for a less urban setting. Stan Lee had preferred the world of the suburban social climbers as he knew it well and it would give him a lot to saterize. But he agreed that a more gentle apporach might attract more papers and they changed their cop into a mailman and relocated him in the small town of Glenville, USA. Dan worked up a fresh batch of sampled and off they were...

As I said, most of this comes from Bill Morrison's excellent Art of Dan DeCarlo, although it is completely corraborated by the information in Stan Lee's own autobiography. Willy Lumpkin ran for 14 months before it was cancelled and I think it is a pretty good sample of the best both it's authors were capable of. It wasn't a hit, but in a way we should be glad for that, or otherwise we wouldn't have had the Marvel Universe or Dan DeCarlo later creation Josie and the Pussycats.

A lot of background material for this strip (and others by Stan Lee, Al Jaffee, Arnold Roth and Dave Gantz) is available at the Ohio State University in the Tony Mendez collection. I would love nothing more than to spend a couple of days there to prepare a definitive article about this strip... or maybe even the introduction to a nice collection.

Here are acouple more sundays.

No comments: