A full 10 years before the Jetsons arrived on the scene, Jetta was a little-known comic by Dan DeCarlo, illustrator of Betty and Veronica from the Archies comics, Josie and the Pussycats, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and others. The buxom, redheaded star is typical of DeCarlo’s sexy but wholesome female characters with a space-age twist. This one is a rarity. Jetta first appeared in December 1952, and Standard Comics published only three issues of Jetta collections with three stories in each issue. Interestingly, the first issue was marked as No. 5 instead of No. 1 so as not to appear to newsstand dealers as an untested debut publication.
If you liked the teenage antics in The Archies and love mid-century modern futurism, you’ll go positively into orbit over Jetta! Scroll down for more images from The Good Girl Art Library’s book, Dan DeCarlo’s Jetta, with an introduction by Craig Yoe and renderings by 37 master pin-up artists.
American Look is an awesome Technicolor short film commissioned by the Chevrolet division of General Motors in 1959 celebrating American mid-century lifestyle and design. The film showcases design of everything from dinnerware and furniture to automobiles and public art murals. Produced by the Handy “Jam” Organization, this film is fabulous right down to the music, the hairstyles, and the narrator’s voice. The evocative video and audio will make you wish you had a time machine to go back and live in the mid-century era. Enjoy!
When I saw the story about Kirobo, the new robot astronaut from Japan (see the bottom clip below), it instantly called to mind Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム), the Japanese manga series that debuted in 1952 and was adapted into the first popular animated Japanese television series in the late 50s and early 60s which I saw as a kid on TV two decades later in Mexico. Astro Boy was one of the early creations of legendary Japanese animator and cartoonist Osamu Tezuka, the so-called “father of anime.” Surely the folks at Toyota were inspired by Astro Boy, the super-powered, space-age Pinocchio who lived in a world where robots coexisted with humans.
We don’t need a super-hero robot, but we’d love to coexist with a one or two who could help out with some household chores!
Petroleum industry and anti-communist propaganda aside, the 1956 industrial cartoon Destination Earth produced by John Sutherland is a whimsical example of Mid-Century Modern cartooning and space age illustrative stylings. Directed by Carl Urbano and designed by Tom Oreb and Victor Haboush, this 13-minute clip is a fascinating view of the future from the past, gushing with irony and humor like oil from a Texas drill rig.
The Ambushers is a 1967 spy comedy flick that is so bad it’s fantastic. Filmed in Acapulco and starring Dean Martin, Senta Berger and Janice Rule, it is loosely based upon the novel of the same title by Donald Hamilton. The film was the third in a series of four produced in the late 1960s starring Dino as secret agent Matt Helm. Dino both spoofs James Bond and plays up his own wisecracking playboy persona with plenty of references to two of his favorite pastimes — singing and boozing. The Matt Helm series was reportedly Mike Myers’ inspiration for “Austin Powers.”
With a flying saucer, a bevy of beauties, a fight sequence inside a giant vat of beer, and a return to Acapulco in its glory days, The Ambushers is cinematic “queso dip” at its finest. Get a little taste of it in the intro song performed by Boyce and Hart:
The above original illustrations are from my Mid-Century Modern Entertainment series. These particular designs were inspired by a scene from the 1964 movie “Campeón del Barrio” (Neighborhood Champion) starring Sonia Lopez. This popular Mexican singer of the 1960s was famous for her tropical-themed songs. Below is a clip of the floor show scene from the movie in which Ms. Lopez sings “Castigo” accompanied by fancifully costumed dancers that look both tropical and space age at the same time!
To celebrate Modernism Week (even though I’m not able to take in Palm Springs’ famous festivities this year), I give you an original illustration of mine inspired by the 300 Bowl Building in Phoenix. The words “bowling alley” do not do justice to the soaring lines of this Googie-style building at Christown Mall. More appropriately, the steeply pitched twin roofs make this a veritable “bowling palace!” It’s a classic, and one of not many remaining examples of this fun and funky architectural style in the Valley of the Sun. For those of you lucky enough to be in Palm Springs Feb. 14-24, Happy Modernism Week!