by KC Carlson
(NOTE: This article is best read AFTER reading my column at Westfield Comics where I discuss the recently passed Josie DeCarlo’s inspiration and influence on her husband Dan DeCarlo’s work and how she came to be credited at Archie Comics decades before Dan got an official credit for his work.)
Dan and Josie DeCarlo’s twin sons Dan Jr. and James were born in 1947 and grew up following their father’s footsteps, becoming comic book artists for Archie Comics. Dan Jr. was a talented penciller — it’s very difficult to differentiate art style between father and son — and he grew up assisting his father on Betty and Veronica. Later, he became the main artist on the Archie title, beginning in the early 1980s.
James learned how to ink directly from his father. Dan was an excellent teacher — he frequently taught other artists from the Archie offices. Many sessions were reportably filmed and sent to freelancers too far away to travel. (I’d love to see those videos.) James inked pages by both his father and brother.
Both sons also have “Suggested By” acknowledgements on several Archie pin-ups first published in the early 1960s — and drawn by their dad. They received these credits as young teenagers (and ironically received an official Archie credit long before their father did). Here are some of Dan Jr. and James’ early “contributions”. I wonder if seeing their names in print was influential in their decision to eventually become comics pros? (Click images to make bigger.)
Dan Jr. and James were also inadvertently responsible for assisting their father with keeping up-to-date on current teenage fashion — both for girls and guys. When the sons started dating as teenagers, their girlfrineds were frequently at the DeCarlo house. According to Dan, there was a lot of talk about teenage fashion, much of it absorbed by Dan and subsequently appearing on the printed page worn by Betty, Veronica, or Josie. One of Dan Jr.’s girlfriends, Ginger, became a friend of the family and used to give Dan advice on what girls were currently wearing.
Dan was very big on keeping the fashions current, especially for the girls. Those who have studied Dan’s art have noticed this most in the mid-60s, as more adult-styled outfits gave way to the new youth-oriented styles coming out of England’s Carnaby Street. Josie DeCarlo also was influential on Dan’s fashion sense for his comic work.
Sadly, both sons predeceased Dan and Josie. Dan Jr. passed away in 1990 of stomach cancer, and James died in 1991 from complications from a stroke. Earlier, in 1967, Dan’s brother Vincent died of lung cancer. Vincent was Dan’s long-time inker (exclusively for Dan’s Archie work in the early 1960s, including the pieces showcased here), and many DeCarlo fans feel that Vince was Dan’s best inker.
I’m not sure who Tony DeCarlo was, but the New Rochelle, New York, address is probably too much of a coincidence to not be part of the artistic DeCarlo family. (Dan was born and died there.) Anybody out there know for sure who he is/was?
Hope you enjoyed this look at the DeCarlo family as contributors to the stories of America’s favorite teenagers!
A NOTE ON SOURCES: The issues listed as sources for these pages are where I found them, which may — or may not — be the original source. Pin-ups and fashion pages were frequently reprinted in other Archie publications in that era, and much later in the digests. Frequently, when later reprinted, the names and addresses of the contributors were removed.