Chicago Spanking Review

A Comparison of the Humorama Big Five Plus One Spanking Cartoonists - Part 1

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By Web-Ed

a humorama magazine


The past three years (2010 - 2012) have been busy ones here at CSR. Among other things, I've come into possession of so many of the old Humorama spanking cartoons that a clearer picture has emerged of how, when, where, why, and by whom these “spankers” (as the editor referred to them) were produced. In this article, I'll concentrate on the “who” - specifically, The Big Five Plus One. “The Big Five” was a term I coined when it became apparent that the best and most prolific spanking cartoonists were Bill Ward, Bill Wenzel, Dan DeCarlo, Kirk Stiles, Homer Provence, and George Morrice (Morrice was a late addition, and by the time I realized how important his contribution was I was already referring to “The Big Five” in print, so he became “Plus One”).

I decided to approach this study by isolating various aspects of the spanking cartoon. The aspects I'm going to compare among the group are The Gag, The Women, The Spanker, Positions, Implements, Drawing Style, Eroticism, whether he did F/F, and the artist's Attitude Toward Spanking. This last was inspired by Phil (Overbarrel) in a post on the CSR Bulletin Board (see Clues That Tell Us An Artist Might Be Into Spanking). Phil observed that "it seems to me that men who are into spanking are generally less interested in breasts than the average male, concentrating more on the bottoms." We will call this The Overbarrel Theory. Hugob00m then suggested that "Perhaps an important clue would be the practicality of the position portrayed in the drawing". We will call this The Hugob00m Hypothesis, and return to both these points when discussing the individual artists.

shirtsleeve spanking

One of Ward's better spanking cartoons. (Click to go to the page).

1. BILL WARD (1919 - 1998)

Gags: Ward's gags are somewhat limited. M/F gags usually revolves around an angry man while F/F gags are typically centered on female rivalry for a desirable male. Some of his early M/F work is more playful in character. I suspect the anger shown by many of his male spankers is a reflection of a hostility towards women.

Women: His early women are cute and innocent, his later ones are basically reduced to brainless bimbos with enormous boobs.

Spanker: As noted above, these are usually angry males or rival females.

Positions: Mainly OTK but does have a fair number of bending-over positions. One flaw is that he often allowed hip flexion which pulls the buttocks out of line, making it impossible to smack them evenly. Like Wenzel, his spankees' dresses fit so tightly that it was unnecesary to push them up and out of the way.

Implements: The hand predominates with the occasional hairbrush in the F/F scenes. One time, a fishing rod was used!

bill ward humorama cartoon girl with enormous boobs

Though Ward's early girls for Humorama were somewhat restrained, it didn't take long before the bosom took precedence over all other considerations. With no bra in evidence, I can't see what's holding those things up. From Gaze (Oct. 1957, click to double-size).

Drawing Style: Ward used the conte crayon to good effect, resulting in an extremely polished look during his Humorama days (this was no longer true in his later years). Even simple farm girls wore elegant dresses of shiny satin! I believe this costuming was a holdover from Ward's days as a Glamor Girl artist in comics during the 1940's, where he commonly drew tight-fitting satin dresses (which became even tighter at Humorama).

Eroticism: Ward is considered a master of "Good Girl" art (GGA), but really, he was a master of one subcategory I'd call the "glamor girl". His early glamor girls in comics through his mid-to-late 50's Humorama work were indeed very well done, but after that he seemed to lose his way, and the enormous bosoms he begin drawing inspired Jim Engel and Chuck Fiala in The Comics Buyers Guide to suggest that his model must have been an inflatable party doll with two war surplus graf zeppelins strapped to its chest. These disproportionate women with their vacant expressions are not as erotic as other examples of GGA by artists like Matt Baker or Frank Frazetta.

F/F: Ward did more F/F spankings than any of the others. Why he was so comfortable with this orientation is not clear, unless he simply preferred drawing women. You can draw twice as many boobs with a F/F spanking, so that may have been the lure.

bill ward look round gag in humorama gaze

No one did satin gowns like Bill Ward. Incredible sheen, and incredible... well, you can see for yourselves. This cartoon first appeared as the splash page of the October 1957 issue of Gaze. (Click to double-size).

Attitude Toward Spanking: Despite having drawn more spankings during his career than any of the others - he was number one in this regard among the group and continued to draw spanking cartoons for other publishers after Humorama first went reprint and then shut down entirely - it's not at all clear whether Ward was a spanko. After leaving comics around 1956, his emphasis was first, last, and always on boobs, boobs, boobs! And we are adopting here the Overbarrel Theory as a working hypothesis - that the greater the artist's interest is in the bosom, the less likely it is that he's into spanking. Still, it's quite possible that Ward at least liked the idea of spanking a woman, if for no other reason than as an outlet for hostility as remarked under "Gags".

first secretary spanking

The first known Humorama OTK spanking cartoon, from July 1955, by Bill Wenzel. (Click to go to the detail page).

2. BILL WENZEL (1918 - 1987)

Gags: Wenzel may have devised the greatest variety of gags among the Big Five. He seems to have invented the Secretary Spanking (in July 1955), at least at Humorama, which was to become the single most common spanking situation there. I have found a Secretary Spanking that was printed several months earlier in a non-Humorama publication. I would guess based on the short timeline this earlier Secretary Spanking was probably not known to Wenzel at the time he did his. I believe he was also the first to invent the following situations: reducing salon, bridge club, harem, election bet (no one else seems to have followed up with any of these), cop spanks scofflaw and hill country spankings (in 1956; DeCarlo did five of these that I believe came later), and doctor spanks patient (1957, although the dates Stiles and DeCarlo did theirs is still uncertain).

Women: After his very early years, Wenzel's women tended to be a trifle overweight but always carried their poundage well. His daughter Dorian recalled that “Dad always felt that women should have a bit of a stomach, big hips, and a hiney”. She didn't mention it, but they also had fairly generous bosoms. Their flesh looks like real – these women could actually exist, unlike Ward's, and I believe their erotic potential comes mainly from this fact.

Spanker: Men from youth to middle-age, firm-minded and strict but not generally angry. We rarely have the impression that Wenzel's men are enjoying a bit of naughty fun as we do with DeCarlo, Stiles, and Homer, suggesting that our enjoyment is to be only that of a spectator watching the woman being spanked rather than vicariously spanking her ourselves, taking the spanker's place as we are encouraged to do with DeCarlo.

wenzel man sprays wife while distracted by girl

Wenzel's career began in earnest after World War II. I don't know when he sold his first cartoon to Humorama, but here's one from 1950. Note that while the style is fully developed and recognizable as Wenzel's, the girl is more slender than his later females would be. From Joker (1950, month unknown, Web-Ed's collection). Click to double-size.

Positions: Wenzel employed the OTK position exclusively but inconsistently - sometimes the positioning was very good, while at other times the spankee is almost falling off the spanker's lap. Wenzel also often committed the fault of having the spanker use the wrong hand, a compositional problem that could have been remedied if he simply remembered that the spanking hand is always the one nearest the spankee's feet.

Implements: Wenzel favored the hand. One hairbrush appears to have been added by a later artist, while Wenzel had a Cop spanking with a billy club that was removed for the cartoon's first printing.

Drawing Style: Wenzel's style, which depended on curves, was well-suited to his well-rounded women. He had considerable facility with the ink wash (whether he was the first to use this technique at Humorama is still uncertain) and excelled at drawing incredibly thin gossamer fabrics that clung wonderfully to his spankees' backsides! With a fabric like that defining the buttocks, it was unnecesary for him to raise the spankee's skirt, and he rarely did so.

Eroticism: With Wenzel, how erotic one of his cartoons seems is almost entirely in the eye of the beholder. His women often appear indifferent to whatever situation they find themselves in, and for myself, I think a spanking is most erotic when the spankee reacts in a shy, worried, embarrassed, or submissive way, because these are distinctly feminine qualities. Of these, submission is probably the one that Wenzel best brings across, and that, combined with the spankee's feminine curves and flesh that looks like flesh, certainly does provide a degree of eroticism.

wenzel girl group big six boobs

"We call ourselves the Big Six" - I believe I took this one from some of Wenzel's non-Humorama work. The style is identical to that in his classic "spankers". (Click to triple-size).

F/F: Wenzel never did any F/F scenes as far as I have been able to determine. Even his non-Humorama spankings were all M/F.

Attitude Toward Spanking: There is no indication that Wenzel had any personal interest in spanking, although he did at least one “spanker” for a non-Humorama publication. The fact that he so often had the spanker using the wrong hand and the one time he drew a billy club as the implement (removed for the cartoon's first printing) certainly suggests no personal spanking experience, and therefore no interest by the Hugob00m Hypothesis. He seems to have looked upon spanking as simply another opportunity for cartoon humor.

One of Stiles' better spanking efforts. Beautiful, sexy spankee bent well over the spanker's knee. The spanker is quite happy (and who can blame him?), but notice Stiles' command of subtle expression: it's hard to identify the spankee's attitude toward being spanked. She appears rather blasé - or is this just an act? (Click to go to the detail page).

3. KIRK STILES (1912? - 1980?)

Gags: Stiles' gags are either refinements of a situation one of his fellow artists created (office-themed spankings mostly) or are based on domestic situations between husband and wife. Stiles executes these gags pretty well, only occasionally lapsing into obscurity. His range is wide, perhaps wider than any of the others, varying from straight disciplinary spankings in the home or at the office, to DeCarlo-like scenes in which the man is apparently enjoying the spanking more than the woman, to Homer-like consensual interactions where both spanker and spankee enjoy the activity. Alone among the five, he sometimes does “one minute before the spanking” gags, taking advantage of the potential in anticipatory excitement.

Women: Stiles was capable of drawing the most beautiful women of any of the Big Five. But in this, as in every other aspect of his work, he was maddeningly inconsistent. The tiny feet could be viewed as simply a stylistic choice, but the strange-looking waists, poorly-defined buttocks, and bulging thighs (projecting backwards further than the buttocks) can't be seen as anything but anatomical errors. He often draws lingerie that appears to be some kind of a cross between a half-slip and cami-knickers, much to the reader's confusion. Although he didn't take bustiness to the extremes that Ward did, it's obvious from studying his non-spanking work that his primary area of interest was the bosom (even some of the “spankers” give this away).

Sometimes his spankees are dismayed by their fate, often they're o.k. with being spanked or seemingly indifferent, and in a few cases they obviously enjoy it.

stiles man and woman about to make out on couch

"I don't know if I like you to kiss me like that - do it a few more times while I make up my mind!" From the September 1958 issue of Comedy. Click to double-size.

Spanker: Ranges from irate boss (Stiles did a lot of secretary spankings) through lecherous doctors to strict or fun-loving husbands. A significant number obviously enjoy giving the spankings. Of interest is that his men are generally not as good-looking as his women, perhaps to encourage reader identification.

Positions: Stiles varied positioning more than any of the others. OTK predominates, as we would expect, but three spankees are bent over without any furniture, (one with her hands all the way down to her ankles!), several are bent over chairs or desks, and one is put in a pillory! His OTK positioning is generally good and he seldom makes the mistake of spanking with the wrong hand. As mentioned under “Gags”, Stiles sometimes gives us a pre-spanking scene, so the question of positioning is moot in those cases.

Implements: Stiles occasionally employs the hairbrush but normally uses the hand.

Drawing Style: Stiles balanced strong, straight lines in the faces of his females with generous curves around the bust and, at least occasionally, the behind. His characters' expressions are convincing throughout their wide range (compare to Ward, who managed only a few). He did the ink wash very well and conveyed the feeling of the surroundings, whether indoors or out, better than any of the others – so well in fact that I suspect he had some background in painting, although I have never found any work by Stiles in oils or watercolors. His great fault seems to be haste – many times he appears to leave obvious errors uncorrected for no other discernible reason.

stiles guitar player with girl outdoors

"You get more out of a guitar than any other player I know!" Note Stiles' excellent background work - the tree especially. The girl's face is stunningly beautiful - I have never seen a face from the other five members of the group that could compare. Also note Stiles' interest in the bosom: her breasts are slightly over-sized (but not Ward-sized) and apparently unrestrained by a brassiere, and with her hands behind her head, they're thrust forward provocatively. (Original art - click to double-size).

Eroticism: Because of his overall skill and his ability to draw truly beautiful women, Stiles at his best is in my opinion the most erotic of the Big Five. A beautiful face and a well-presented shapely behind along with a determined spanker make for an erotic cartoon. But as noted, he was all too rarely at his best, and his inconsistency hurt the sexiness of his cartoons just as it hurt his composition and anatomy. Strange-looking lingerie, bulging thighs, and indistinct buttocks all at times detract from the eroticism of his drawings.

F/F: Stiles drew a couple of F/F spankings in an office setting. He made it look like his heart was in it, but I wonder. I have to believe he was “inspired” by Ward's example rather than driven to create F/F works by some inner need. It's possible that Ward's girl/girl stuff went over so well that Goodman encouraged the other artists to try it also.

Attitude Toward Spanking: Because Stiles' spanking positions are generally practical ones, the Hugob00m Hypothesis supports the idea he was a spanko. On the other hand, his persistent emphasis on the bosom suggests otherwise by the Overbarrel Theory. Stiles seems to enjoy seeing his women get spanked well enough – he reminds me of DeCarlo in this regard – but there isn't enough evidence for me to say he was actually “into it”.

One of DeCarlo's best spanking cartoons as the maid hopes she can meet her employer's "stern" requirements. The spanker has no qualms about using her naivete to convince her to accept a spanking. Good OTK positioning with the usual small caveat that the spankee's weight never seems to be pressing down on the spanker's lap, sexy spankee (in a maid's outfit, yet!) with cami-knickers showing, and nice round bottom. (Click to go to the detail page).

4. DAN DECARLO (1919 - 2001)

Gags: Our own Dan Rivera, himself a modern-day spanking cartoonist, has noted the wittiness of DeCarlo's gags. They were definitely a cut above the “spanking-good” or “spanking breeze” kind of wordplay often seen elsewhere. Early on, DeCarlo had some help with his gags from from his inker over at Timely/Marvel/Atlas, Rudy Lapick, and in later years he just imagined the spanking situation and let editor Abe Goodman write the captions because he felt he was doing too much work for too little money. In some cases he seems to have taken a situation pioneered by Bill Wenzel (for example the Secretary Spanking) and then refined it into his own unique style. The gag very often revolves around a lecherous spanker using a flimsy excuse to whack some pretty girl's bottom, figuratively (and sometimes literally) winking at the male reader as if to say, “Good fun, eh bud?”

Women: DeCarlo had long experience drawing pretty girls in a “cartoony” stile with Betty and Veronica in Archie and with Millie the Model over at Timely/Atlas. They were sexy, but shorthand-sexy from the caricaturist's quick pen rather than Good Girl Art-sexy in the style of Bill Ward, Matt Baker, Maurice Whitman, and others, and this was the style he brought to his Humorama work. His spankees are always pretty and always have spankable bottoms clad in tight-fitting cami-knickers. Interestingly, they never enjoy being spanked, their attitudes ranging from naïve and puzzled (“But today isn't my birthday!”) to dismayed but accepting.

millie the model april 1957 cover

DeCarlo worked at Archie and Timely at the same time he was doing cartoons for Humorama. Here we see his work on the April 1957 issue of Timely's Millie the Model. The style is pretty much the same as he used for the Archie gang. © Marvel Characters Inc.

Spanker: DeCarlo's spankers are the most generally lecherous of any of the Big Five's, typically enjoying using any flimsy excuse to whack the shapely rear ends of attractive young women.

Positions: DeCarlo employs the OTK position almost exclusively and does it very well, at least from the standpoint of displaying the spankee's pretty bottom. Hugob00m has pointed out that “some of Dan Decarlo's women look as if they're suspended and the men just happen to be under them.” (See Dan's post Vintage Black & White for the observations of Dan, B00m, and Phil (Overbarrel)). It has been suggested that this is because DeCarlo drew the women first.

Implements: DeCarlo never uses anything but the hand, making him something of a purist.

Drawing Style: DeCarlo is basically a caricaturist who keeps the exaggeration to a minimum. His drawing style was made famous in the Archie line of comic books, where it was eventually adopted as the model for the Archie characters. A few of the characters in his spanking cartoons resemble members of the Archie gang such as Betty, Veronica, or Reggie.

stiles guitar player with girl outdoors

At Timely, publisher Martin Goodman's approach was to jump on whatever bandwagon seemed to be selling at the time and then milk it dry. Millie the Model was a great success, so similar titles like Sherry the Showgirl quickly followed. Here we see DeCarlo's art on the December 1956 cover. © Marvel Characters Inc.

Eroticism: Because his style uses the cartoonist's shorthand to denote a sexy girl, I feel the amount of eroticism is limited. Others may disagree about this, but I feel a certain amount of realism is necessary to produce an erotic effect, and a “compressed” drawing style, without many lines, cannot be too realistic, although of course it can be very good for storytelling or humor. Also, humor and eroticism are two different things - they can be mixed, but one usually predominates. Despite these considerations, it's undeniable that a certain amount of eroticism does enter the mix with DeCarlo, it's just that I maintain that mix is dominated by humor.

F/F: DeCarlo is the only one of the group who never drew anything other than M/F spankings. This seems to me to be another display of DeCarlo's great virtue of consistency.

Attitude Toward Spanking: Like Stiles, DeCarlo certainly has no problem with seeing his female characters spanked, and we may infer that he probably would have had no objection to a little spanking in real life. But there's certainly no sign that he was a true spanko, and I think his effectiveness in the spanking genre was due to his talent and professionalism.

Possibly Homer's finest spanking cartoon. Bottom raised nice and high, this spankee certainly has no problem with being spanked. The homely-looking spanker obviously cares a great deal about her. In placing the spanking within the context of a loving relationship, Homer was somewhat ahead of his time. (Click to go to the detail page).

3. HOMER PROVENCE (1919? - 1975?)

Gags: Homer seemed most comfortable with the office and domestic settings – in fact, his office scenes often have a domestic feel to them! He typically dresses an erotic or semi-erotic spanking up in disciplinary clothes, but pure, strict discipline isn't generally his style. His F/F scenes are a little more disciplinary.

Women: Homer's straight lines sometimes give his women rather flattish bottoms, but also give their faces an elegant and intelligent look. He drew their lower legs a little too long, but this isn't always noticeable. Homer's women stand in stark contrast to Ward's bimbos: they actually look human, and are usually active and willing participants in their spankings.

Spanker: Often older than the women and not particulary good-looking, Homer's men exude a kind of homely simplicity, and their obvious affection for the spankee can be touching in way none of the other group members can match.

homer office-themed secretary humor with lettered panties

Homer was quite comfortable setting both spanking and non-spanking cartoons in the office. From the July 1968 issue of Zip but had certainly been printed earlier. Click to double-size.

Positions:Homer uses the OTK position exclusively.

Implements: In one of his F/F scenes, Homer used the hairbrush but otherwise stuck with hand-spanking.

Drawing Style: Homer was dependent on straight lines rather than curves, basically the exact opposite of Bill Wenzel in this as in other ways. He also seemed less comfortable with the ink wash than Wenzel, Stiles, or DeCarlo (Ward used the conte crayon instead), and in terms of pure drawing skill was probably the least accomplished of the group. And yet, he was better than many if not most of the other artists who contributed to Humorama, having at least a recognizable and unique style, and managing to imbue his characters with a humanity that sometimes escaped the others – women who are clearly onboard with spanking and derive pleasure from it, and spankers who sincerely care for them.

Eroticism: Probably most of the eroticism in Homer's "spankers" derives from the willing submission of the women and their overall slender, feminine appearance.

F/F: Homer did three F/F scenes, typically a somewhat more mature woman spanking a very young one in a disciplinary context.

Attitude Toward Spanking: Homer apparently saw spanking mainly as a kind of sexual foreplay perfectly appropriate for a loving couple – even his office scenes never seem truly disciplinary. This puts him squarely ahead of his time (and the rest of the group) with a startingly modern perspective. One husband/wife scene, which oddly features his best-rounded female behind (Nagging Wife Spanking), and his F/F scenes do seem more purely disciplinary.

Spanking Day at the Greeting Card firm? No caption available, but we still like this Morrice cartoon because of the good OTK positioning and the pretty spankee with well-drawn cami-knickers and a worried expression. (Click to go to the detail page).


Gags: Some of Morrice's gags seem to be variations on themes originated by the Five (marriage counsellor, cop spanks scofflaw) while others seem more distinctly British (maid spanks her miss, butler spanks mistress). A few of them, like the wife asking her husband to cane her before he looks at the car she smashed up, may be original. Perhaps these were the early efforts, and he later tried to be more like the Five, who between them sold so many cartoons to Abe Goodman. The execution is always at least adequate. All Morrice's spankings are disciplinary with, of course, humorous overtones.

Women: They are generally young and pretty, but not exaggerated. The lower legs are often a little long, just like Homer's. Perhaps their best feature is the typical expression Morrice gives them - they know this is going to hurt, and they're worried about it! Like DeCarlo, Morrice used relatively few lines to convey expression, but his style was completely different. And like Stiles, Morrice sometimes seemed to have trouble drawing the cami-knickers properly, making them look something like a half-slip, but with no panties – yet we don't get a bare bottom either!

Spanker: Runs the gamut from teacher, husband, butler, even the milkman gets a chance! They are typically disciplinary figures who don't seem to have any ulterior, lascivious motives in delivering the spanking as DeCarlo's usually do, but a few of them follow in the footsteps of the DeCarlo men and seem to be having a pretty good time.

Positions: The OTK position is used almost exclusively (one time a wife bends over for her husband's cane).

Implements: Only member of the group to ever employ a slipper or the cane, most of the time the hand is used.

doctor about to give pretty patient a shot in her behind by george morrice

A Morrice non-spanking cartoon, set in the doctor's office, in which a pretty girl is about to receive an injection. As with his "spankers," our delight comes from her discomfiture as she realizes just where she's going to get it. Boy, does she look worried! (Heh-heh!). Click to double-size.

Drawing Style: Very hard to put into words. The critic should be able to come up with something more specific than “old-fashioned” or “British”, and yet those are the words that come most readily to mind. His style is rather sparse, making do with relatively few lines, and has an emotional restraint that recalls the Victorian era, or at least what we in America think of when we visualize that era. And yet it does get the job done without excess fuss. Morrice was a decent artist, but without the flash and polish of a Bill Ward or the sheer technique of a Kirk Stiles. His cartoons are very good from the standpoint of humor, and invite comparison with DeCarlo for that and other reasons even though the two men's styles are completely dissimilar.

Eroticism: The simple lines, loose-fitting and occasionally maladroit cami-knickers, and the restraint embodied by the British stiff upper lip sometimes limit the erotic potential of Morrice's cartoons. At other times a cute spankee, tight-fitting cami-knickers, and good OTK position enhance the eroticism.

F/F: Only one example known, Maid Spanks Her Miss. My suspicion is that he tried this having seen Ward's many examples in an attempt to sell more cartoons to Abe Goodman. I don't know too much about the British market for cartoon humor, but it couldn't have been too great or Morrice wouldn't have expended so much effort at Humorama, where his rate could only have been $15 per cartoon at most.

Attitude Toward Spanking: The Overbarrel Theory might suggest an interest in spanking since Morrice drew ordinary-sized bosoms, but because his positioning is not always practical the Hugob00m Hypothesis leads to the opposite conclusion, that he had little personal knowledge or interest in spanking. It's impossible to say with any certainty, but it does seem that the “spanker” made up a large portion of the cartoons Morrice submitted to Goodman. That could have been because he thought that's what Goodman would buy (and if so, he was certainly right!) or it could have been because he really enjoyed doing them. My impression is that the former explanation is correct, for Morrice was going to a lot of trouble to sell to Humorama, sending in his cartoons from overseas.

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