More on the DeCarlo Family: Dan’s Sons and Their Pinups

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.)

Page from Archie Giant Series #10

Future Archie penciller Dan J. has Betty fall for him (and thoughtful Archie happened to bring a pillow, for just such accidents). From Archie Giant Series #10 (Archie’s Christmas Stocking), Jan. 1961.

Page from Betty and Veronica #78

Dan Jr. rolls up the rug so that Betty and Veronica can demonstrate the 1960s' biggest dance craze. From Archie’s Girls, Betty and Veronica #78, June 1962.

Page from Betty and Veronica #69

Future Archie inker James DeCarlo dreams up a sporty Betty. From Archie’s Girls, Betty and Veronica #69, Sept. 1961.

Page from Archie Giant Series #13

James also comes up with a Betty idea worth wading for! (Sorry, old and frequently repeated gag from many Archie Comics covers.) From Archie Giant Series #13 (Betty and Veronica Summer Fun), Oct. 1961.

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.

Page from Betty and Veronica #86

The mysterious Tony DeCarlo provided the gag for this pin-up. From Archie’s Girls, Betty and Veronica #86, Feb. 1963.

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.

8 Responses to “More on the DeCarlo Family: Dan’s Sons and Their Pinups”

  1. Thad Says:

    I thought for some time that Mike DeCarlo was one of Dan’s sons, though I now know that’s not the case. What’s his relationship to the family? Or is it just an unlikely coincidence that another guy with the same not-exactly-common last name went to work as an artist for Archie?

  2. KC Says:

    Mike DeCarlo is not a member of this particular DeCarlo family. Dan confirmed this in his TCJ interview. Just a coincidence I guess.

  3. Michael Cochrane Says:

    I was just wondering if anyone knows if Dan Decarlo Jr might have been the same guy that was a very close friend of mine back in Boulder, Colorado back in the early 1970’s while he finished up his college art degree program there. He was a truly gifted and amazing artist in his own right and was recognized for his work back then by being shown in the art museum in Denver, Colorado while he was still a student in Boulder. After graduation he moved back to NYC to work on the Archie Comics as that was where his Dad worked. He was gay so if the son of Dan Decarlo Senior was not gay then this was not him. Anyone out there know???

  4. Wonder Woman/Archie Fashion Mashup » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] some of the pinup pages I scanned for a two-part article KC wrote about Dan DeCarlo’s family as models, Bill Walko (of The Hero Business) posted the following take on Wonder Woman’s […]

  5. Linc Says:

    Any idea on what happened with the “The Best of Josie & the Pussycats by Dan DeCarlo” hardcover? I had my pre-order in my Amazon cart for a long time, until it was voided.

    Did this ever see print? Thanks

  6. Johanna Says:

    Not that I can tell. I can’t find much mention of it online at all.

  7. JD Says:

    Tony is unrelated, there was another “DeCarlo” family in Westchester.

    @Michael Cochrane Yes it was him, he was in Colorado then.

    @Linc The lawsuit snuffed out the project.

    Source: My grandfather was Dan DeCarlo, my father was James.

    Ps. Thank you for this write up, I am grateful.

  8. Johanna Says:

    Thank you very much for coming by and clearing up some of our confusion. We’re honored.




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