It's a combination most people in comics never thought they'd see – a collaboration between Dan DeCarlo, creator of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS and SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH, and Dan Fogel , the writer and publisher of the adult parody of DeCarlo's work, CHERRY POPTART.
But that's exactly what DeCarlo and Fogel announced today at San Diego's Comic-Con, as they premiered the first model sheets and preliminary sketches for DeCarlo's first creator-owned project, LOWER EAST SIDE.
"We're all here because we love Dan DeCarlo," Fogel began. "We are so thrilled to have this chance to work with him." He then gave a brief recap of DeCarlo's fifty-year career in comics, alluding briefly to DeCarlo's work for Archie and the recent lawsuit over the rights to JOSIE. "The things no one likes to talk about," Fogel added, grinning.
Fogel added that though many fans are under the impression that DeCarlo hasn't worked since he left Archie, he has actually been extremely busy. DeCarlo said that most recently he has completed an ELVIRA story for Claypool Comics, a BATMAN BLACK AND WHITE backup story for DC (featuring Batgirl) as well as several stories for DC's Cartoon Network books and an issue of RADIOACTIVE MAN for Bongo Comics.
But it's LOWER EAST SIDE that has DeCarlo really excited. It's a bookshelf format graphic novel that Fogel said should be shipping in time for Christmas of 2001. DeCarlo says he got the inspiration for the story from his granddaughter, Christy. "She keeps me in touch," he says. "Talented, talented girl. Great writer. I get her to go over my stuff and straighten it out, make it up-to-date. I just wish she would write more."
LOWER EAST SIDE tells the story of three young single girls living and working in New York; Jessica, who has a gift for working with animals and was raised in Africa; Gabby, a passionate young Hispanic artist; and Vicky, an aspiring model who works as a part-time bartender. "It's got more realistic characters and situations," Fogel said. "It's not horrifically graphic or porno or anything, but it's got kind of a PG or an R feel to it. Basically, it's DeCarlo without any restraints."
Fogel and Pitts were positively gushing with admiration for DeCarlo himself. "Dan gave us entry-level comics with Archie," Fogel said. "The personality, the physical comedy – I think a lot of our glamorization of high school came from Archie. We all knew a Betty or a Veronica – and I think a lot of us have been a Jughead," he added, which got a rueful laugh from the audience.
DeCarlo himself, when asked whom he admired among the newer cartoonists, immediately said, "Jaime Hernandez. I really like his work... there's not many of us left, working in that style, you know, most guys are doing super-heroes."
Fogel put in that he'd been leaning on Hernandez to contribute something to LOWER EAST SIDE as well, to which DeCarlo responded, "He just got married. I don't think he'll have time!"