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Author Topic: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo  (Read 676 times)

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DeCarlo Rules

Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« on: September 09, 2017, 12:38:29 PM »
I've been re-reading Bart Beaty's TWELVE-CENT ARCHIE (since a new edition of the book came out with color illustrations) and seeing his comments in a somewhat different light than I did upon the first reading, a couple of years ago. I imagine that's because my understanding of the background context of the history of Archie has expanded considerably in the time since I first read it. Beaty is a devout admirer of Harry Lucey's work, and at one point in the book he makes the bold statement that "Of all the dozens of artists who contributed to Archie Comics in the twelve-cent era, the best, by far, was Harry Lucey." (emphasis mine) He goes on to say "His Archie is the most wide-eyed, his Betty and Veronica the most alluring, and his Jughead is the most relaxed."

"By far"? I had to think about that a bit, and while I'd certainly give it to Lucey when it came to Archie as the main character, and he draws a pretty sexy B&V, there's still something about his version of the girls that falls a little short, for me, of Dan DeCarlo's. How do I articulate exactly what quality it was that made DeCarlo's B&V superior to Lucey's?

When I think of Harry Lucey's version of the girls, it always seems to me that they carry themselves in a way a little too poised, a little too physically mature for their age. He's a good girl artist, but he subtracts a bit of his cartooning instincts and amps up his illustrator instincts when drawing them. His B&V seem reminiscent to me of the kind of glamour photography you might see from the 1940s or 1950s, and has a kind of "posed" quality to it, whenever B&V are strutting their stuff and showing off their curves.

Dan's B&V seem to have more of a relaxed, natural quality about them, as if caught in moments unaware that they're "having their picture taken". Despite the fact that they're both essentially the same girl in body and facial features with different hairstyles and clothing, Dan was better at making B&V each distinct by contrasting their different styles of body language. In thinking about it, I'd say DeCarlo better captured a balance in both girls' depiction between their youthful innocence and their physical charms, and that made them both more appealing and seem a little more real. I think he had a little better range on their expressions of different emotion than Lucey did, too.

Now, when it comes to who was the better ARCHIE artist (that is, the better artist for stories that focus on Archie as the main character), it's Lucey hands down. His range of portraying slapstick comedy, movement through space, and force and motion through body language was unequaled. He would have made a damn fine animator, if that had been the profession he'd chosen, because you can look at a Harry Lucey Archie story and see all the "key frames" (or "extremes") that would represent the points on which the animation turns, to be filled-in by in-betweeners. So if he had worked in animation, he'd either be the lead animator on the main character, or the director of the cartoon (who essentially does the same thing, in addition to coordinating all the other animators on the team). That ability to tell a story through slapstick action simply wasn't as essential a quality in most Betty & Veronica stories as it was in an Archie story.

And... I haven't quite decided whether Lucey was the best Silver Age Jughead artist or not, because I haven't quite spent enough time thinking about it or studying stories with that in mind, but my instincts are leading me to say... Samm Schwartz, particularly the pre-1965 Schwartz, whose earlier work I always liked better because of the inking quality on those stories before he left the company for the next four years (to go work for Tower Comics, and then DC). Schwartz' later Jughead is more minimalist, with fewer background details in the panels, and an unvarying ink line-weight, making everything look flatter and less 3-dimensional. But he still had a good storytelling sense of layouts and about the placement of figures within a panel to get some movement into it.

And beyond the Silver Age, after DeCarlo and then Lucey, who was the next best B&V artist after Lucey retired in the Bronze Age? I'm going to go with... Al Hartley. Especially when it came to Betty. Hartley seemed to have a real empathy for Betty, and it showed in his work, but beyond that, he was probably just, on average, the next best "girl artist". He didn't tend to flaunt that ability quite as much as DeCarlo and Lucey did, but when he wanted to, he could turn out some terrific stuff when the specific story allowed it. And after Hartley, once he'd been working at Archie for a few years and had gotten a handle on the characters and the house style... Stan Goldberg.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2017, 12:49:54 PM by DeCarlo Rules »

Vegan Jughead

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2017, 01:01:56 PM »
I have that book and i love that book, but even I, as a HUGE Lucey fan, was a bit taken back at his use of "by far".  I think he was just trying to be edgy since Dan DeCarlo is assumed by most casual observers to be THE Archie artist. 


For B&V, in that era I'll take DeCarlo.  If I can go across all eras, I'll take Dan Parent or Bob Montana, although I love Jeff Shultz's DeCarlo tribute style as well.   


I like Dan Parent's B&V, but Montana and DeCarlo drew during what in my opinion was a high point for women's fashion, so I guess I like Parent's Betty and Veronica heads and Montana and DeCarlo from the neck down.  Ha ha.   

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2017, 06:00:26 PM »
They say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
I find DeCarlo's B&V more visually appealing overall. Even when the girl's facial expressions are mad or angry, they still look cute to me. When Lucey draws B&V angry--they're not so cute. Just my opinion.
I do think that Lucey's Archie seems to display a wider range of expressions than Archie's DeCarlo's, and he's good at capturing the physical slapstick-type situations.

« Last Edit: September 09, 2017, 07:28:35 PM by Ronny G »

SAGG

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2017, 11:33:57 PM »
They say, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
I find DeCarlo's B&V more visually appealing overall. Even when the girl's facial expressions are mad or angry, they still look cute to me. When Lucey draws B&V angry--they're not so cute. Just my opinion.
I do think that Lucey's Archie seems to display a wider range of expressions than Archie's DeCarlo's, and he's good at capturing the physical slapstick-type situations.


In the bottom panel, this is NOT Betty. I remember this story....

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2017, 12:14:59 AM »
In the bottom panel, this is NOT Betty. I remember this story....

True. But the resemblance is intentional, because in the story, Reggie mistakes this girl for Betty.

Then again, as Bart Beaty noted in his book, ALL girls in Riverdale are essentially the SAME girl, in terms of their bodies and facial features (except for Ethel, and occasional incidental characters meant to represent non-standard types). They are mainly distinguished by their hair colors and styles, and their styles of dress (harder still to distinguish when they're all wearing swimsuits). By Riverdalian standards, "the average girl" is a looker. And I wouldn't want it any other way. In a sense, we're getting the Archie-centric POV of things, where there are distractions and temptations everywhere he turns -- leading, of course, to potential comedic complications.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 12:20:12 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2017, 12:46:40 AM »
I have that book and i love that book, but even I, as a HUGE Lucey fan, was a bit taken back at his use of "by far".  I think he was just trying to be edgy since Dan DeCarlo is assumed by most casual observers to be THE Archie artist. 


For B&V, in that era I'll take DeCarlo.  If I can go across all eras, I'll take Dan Parent or Bob Montana, although I love Jeff Shultz's DeCarlo tribute style as well.   


I like Dan Parent's B&V, but Montana and DeCarlo drew during what in my opinion was a high point for women's fashion, so I guess I like Parent's Betty and Veronica heads and Montana and DeCarlo from the neck down.  Ha ha.

For the late '40s and early '50s, it's Bob Montana setting the pace and leading the way (on the newspaper strip and some covers), but as we get to the mid-'50s in the comic books, Harry Lucey began to emerge as the dominant artist, and it was he who largely defined the characters for the next decade's comic books. Overlapping in the early '60s, Dan DeCarlo's version begins to overtake Lucey's as the preeminent B&V depiction, which is pretty well solidified by the later '60s when DeCarlo becomes the main cover artist for all the comics. Lucey's artistic powers began fading in the 1970s comics due to his deteriorating health, and he retired completely in 1976. DeCarlo's dominance just continued to build in the 1970s, adding the newspaper strip to his duties when Bob Montana died in 1975. Becoming the main cover artist, and then the newspaper strip artist, is about all the validation needed to confirm that by the later 1970s, "the traditional Archie Comics style" had become Dan DeCarlo's style.

When discussing the Silver Age artists, one that never seems to get mentioned, or enough credit, is Bob White. He was brought into ACP's production department in the late '50s by Bob Bolling, and when he got to work on the main characters in the '60s, being new to the genre, he seemed to have a strong desire to prove his worth to the company by remaining faithful to the house style of the period, taking most of his artistic cues from DeCarlo's and Lucey's work (and maybe a little bit of Bob Montana). His work can be found in and on the covers of early-1960s issues of Archie and Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica, and he was also a regular contributor to Archie's Madhouse. But he seems to be primarily remembered as the artist on those 1965-1967 issues of Life With Archie that featured Pureheart the Powerful, The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., and the prototype 3-man version of The Archies. His most distinctive contribution to the company remains the delightfully wonky Cosmo the Merry Martian, which he created, wrote and drew.


A couple of examples of Bob White's covers for Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica.

In the later 1990s, when Dan Parent began to emerge from DeCarlo's mentoring into his own, it seems like he and Jeff Schulz are pretty much neck-and-neck as B&V artists, but Dan Parent was becoming more the signature artist for Veronica. He also helped to launch Cheryl and Sabrina in their own late-1990s comics, eventually turning Cheryl over to Holly G. (who afterwards moved on to Josie and the Pussycats, and then Sabrina). Holly's slightly manga-influenced take on all those characters gave them a fresh look. She also broke away from the traditional method of drawing the girls' eyes as simple black dots with a single ink line representing the eyelash in medium and close-up panels, giving them delicate eyelashes and colored irises, which made them seem more expressive. Holly didn't do many B&V stories, but the one where Betty gets a Goth makeover is memorable.

Then in the 2000s, Dan is allowed to express his own individual style a lot more, and definitely becomes the iconic cover artist for both B&V. Breaking away from the DeCarlo influence a little, he develops a lot of his own signature facial expressions for the girls. Dan's abilities as a graphic designer really begin to impress me at about the time Betty & Veronica Spectacular gets a makeover as a fashion magazine-styled comic (#69-90), and that's about the time that I'd say he "owned" those characters, despite some nice work from Jeff continuing on interior B&V stories. Dan gets to do some fun stuff, like the storybook tales (Wonderland and Oz) and Agents B&V in the digests around the same time. And yes, Dan Parent definitely picked up on the fashion-conscious vibe that DeCarlo had paid real attention to, adding to that contemporary sensibility. I notice in a few of their most recent stories that the brothers Kennedy are really starting to pay attention to B&V's fashions, too.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 03:55:57 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

SAGG

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2017, 11:31:29 PM »
Lucey vs. DeCarlo? I didn't know they were competing against each other...  :2funny:

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Betty & Veronica - Lucey vs. DeCarlo
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2017, 12:33:43 AM »
Lucey vs. DeCarlo? I didn't know they were competing against each other...  :2funny:

Perhaps not as overtly as Betty competed with Veronica, but in this analogy the reading audience is "Archie", and you can love both (the girls or the artists' interpretations of them), but ultimately you have to choose only one.

 


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