13 COVERS: The Legacy and Spirit of BETTIE PAGE

A collection of art that captures the enduring essence of the pinup queen, who stars in a new graphic novel…

If you’re a big Bettie Page fan – or a fan of classic-style pinup art—then you should most definitely check out Dynamite’s Kickstarter for Bettie Page and Apocatequil’s Ring. It’s a 40-page comics adventure written by Stephen Mooney, with art by Giorgia Sposito that, as the publisher puts it, is “one part Indiana Jones, one part Emma Peel, and 100 percent Bettie!”

The project, which includes contributions from the likes of Greg Hildebrandt and Joseph Michael Linsner, has been funded but is down to the all-important stretch drive.

Greg Hildebrandt

So with about a week left in the campaign, writer Stephen Mooney joins us to pick 13 COVERS by a variety of artists that capture the spirit embodied by Bettie Page, even if they predated her 1950s heyday.

Dig this:


Why pinup art?

It’s that most wonderful alchemy; equal parts playful and sexy, that combine to entice the eye like no other art form. Sure, it can be titillating, and if it’s done correctly it will be, but at the end of the day it’s about how much fun it is.

Agency is incredibly important — nobody wants to revel in somebody who isn’t in control of their own situation. We take pleasure in a beautiful, playful woman (or man!) who’s winking at the camera; in on the joke. That, combined with killer looks, is sexy.

Mooney’s variant

Nobody embodies these core tenets like Miss Bettie Page. As such, it was a pleasure for me to script her latest adventure — an action-adventure romp set in the jungles of South America, in the vein of Indiana Jones.

As a longtime fan of both Bettie and pinup art/culture in general, I figured it would be good fun to list some of my favorite exponents of this illustrious craft!

Here are 13 COVERS celebrating some of the greatest pinup artists, and images, from the Golden Age to today:

Frank Frazetta. Gotta go with the classic Frazetta cover to Vampirella #1. Just an iconic image, really. Equal parts sexy, mysterious and dangerous; Frazetta demonstrated such a mastery over stylized human anatomy and dynamic posing. A true master.

Mark Schultz. So many classic Hannah Dundee covers to choose from, but I love the cover to Xenozoic Tales Vol. 1 especially. It’s just a beautiful showcase for her power, poise and steely personality. Schultz was a master at drawing sexy and powerful women, which to me is hugely important and lands you just the right side of cheesecake. A huge influence on my creator-owned book, Half Past Danger.

Alex Raymond. I’m cheating a little with this one. There are just so many wonderful examples of powerful, pinup-style women across Raymond’s incredible Flash Gordon newspaper strips. As a kid, this stuff fired my imagination no end, and later in life I came to appreciate its other charms!

Will Eisner, The Spirit #21: Any of Eisner’s covers featuring Sand Saref or P’Gell could have made this list. Some of the blueprints for modern femmes fatale in comics. Hugely influential, as are so many of his concepts and techniques.

Speaking of The Spirit… At this point I’ll cheat again and add two of my own pinup-style covers, just to demonstrate the kind of influence these previous guys have had on my work. The first is a cover I did for Dynamite’s The Spirit #1 and the second is a cover for Half Past Danger.

Mirka Andolfo, DC Bombshells #32: I adore Mirka’s art; I think she really captures a tremendously playful spirit in her pinup-style work. Beautifully drawn and she’s a hell of a colorist, too.

Terry Dodson, Harley Quinn #1: Terry Dodson is another artist who embraces the playful aspects of pinup work, ala the greats like Gil Elvgren. A huge part of selling these types of images, the ‘good girl’ versus the ‘bad girl,’ is the emotion and sentiment conveyed. Nothing grim or dark; just pure enjoyment and fun, with a large helping of tease. Dodson nails these aspects.

Ashley Wood, Tank Girl Gold #1: A more unorthodox choice, sure, but Ashley Wood knows how to draw sexy pinup ladies in a style all his own. Always plenty of agency on show as well as titillation and physicality. I’ve been a big, big fan of his work for years.

Becky Cloonan, The Kitchen #4: For my money, Becky Cloonan draws the sexiest women in comics — always brimful with power and lithe physicality. Cloonan can just transmit such raw animal sensuality through her artwork.

Frank Cho, Liberty Meadows Color Sundays. I was a huge fan of Liberty Meadows during its fairly lengthy run, and that was mostly down to Cho’s playful writing style and his incredible draftsmanship. Cho’s figure-work reminds me a lot of Dave Stevens’ — and that can only be a good thing. Cho has since gone on to illustrate countless good-girl covers and pinups, but Liberty Meadows remains my favorite to this day.


Art Adams, Monsters Attack!!!: Another artist who embraces the playful nature of good-girl pinup art and marries it with incredibly detailed and dynamic artwork, Art Adams has been blowing fans’ minds with his layered, technical compositions for decades now. His creature designs and monster drawings are amazing and he usually pairs his female characters with fantastical creatures or sci-fi tech for an interesting and cool juxtaposition. At the end of the day though, Adams’ is obviously a fan of old-school pinup greats.

J. Scott Campbell, Wonder Woman #750. It’d be hard to talk about current pinup artists without mentioning Jeff Scott Campbell. A mainstay for more than 20 years now, Campbell always finds the playful to go along with the sexy. A lovely, animated quality to his figures, coupled with clean, pleasing linework and composition have earned him legions of fans of all genders.

Joelle Jones, Lady Killer #3: A more recent pinup-style artist I really enjoy is Joelle Jones — her Lady Killer and Catwoman series especially. Playful but deadly — and looking good while doing it — Jones’ heroines are as dangerous as they are gorgeous. You could argue that they almost fall more into the bad-girl side of pinup art, but Jones’ delivery is always with a knowing style, which to me invokes many facets of the classic pinup eras.

OK, so there are 14 covers. We make the rules, we break the rules. In any event, for more info on the Bettie Page Kickstarter, click here.


— The TOP 13 ELVIRA COMICS COVERS — Totally Not Ranked. Click here.

— The TOP 13 SUPERHEROES Inspired by the Pulps — RANKED. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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