A cheeky illustration by New York native, Bill Kresse.
“Don’t ever be afraid to try something new. You will learn from it, use it, and, hopefully, profit from it.”
Bill Kresse is a hero in the world of illustration and comics with many accolades to his credit, including a gig he scored after graduating from high school for legendary New York studio Terrytoons as an inker in the animation department. Terrytoons produced a few cartoons you might have heard of like Mighty Mouse, a series of toons featuring the wisecracking magpies Heckle and Jeckle, and The Mighty Heroes (Diaper Man! Never forget!).
Following that dreamy-sounding job, Kresse joined the Associated Press as a member of their prestigious art department. If you were a reader of the New York Daily News in the late 60s and early 70s you probably looked forward to Kresse’s cheeky comic strip “Super” Duper which ran in the paper exclusively for several years every Sunday. Kresse and his layout artist friend Rolf Ahlsen collaborated on the storylines and comic panels for “Super” Duper which centered around the antics of tubby, girl-crazy apartment superintendent, Mr. Duper. Kresse and Ahlsen’s fictional Mr. Duper had the good fortune to work in a building inhabited by bodacious females dressed in hotpants and mini skirts. While I’m on the topic of scantily-clad, impossibly proportioned illustrated women, let’s dive into Kresse’s foray into what is commonly referred to as “vintage sleaze” in comics and his pin up art which was routinely showcased in various men’s interest digests put out by Humorama—a wickedly popular division of Martin Goodman’s massive pulp publishing firm.
In the 1950s Kresse earned the reputation of being a “good-girl” illustrator. His lighthearted pinup-style illustrations would appear in various Humorama digests for decades along with other well-known artists versed in sleaze funnies such as Bill Ward (not to be confused with Black Sabbath drummer, Bill Ward), and Superman creator Joe Shuster. So yeah, just like Clark Kent, Shuster had his own secret identity of sorts as an illustrator of fiery-hot, hardcore fetish. Go figure. Fans of Kresse and his contributions to vintage sleaze refer to him as “unappreciated” during his lifetime.
Peers of Kresse I’ve already mentioned in this post who drew classic/sleazy pinup art have already been immortalized in beautifully curated gallery shows as well as hardcover retrospectives. When it comes to Kresse, anything tangible beyond his individual vintage illustrations or comics, is a book he authored in 1984 Introduction to Cartooning. After Kresse passed away in 2014, I was hopeful that someone might finally get around to publishing a collection of his exuberant adult-oriented comics, though sadly that hasn’t happened yet. As a huge fan of all things sleazy, I can say without hesitation that Kresse deserves such an homage and more. Kresse’s work might look rather tame when compared to his contemporary Eric Stanton and one of the genre’s most prolific stars, Gene Bilbrew, but it’s still NSFW. Just like hotpants.
More after the jump…