Chicago Spanking Review

The Humorama Spanking Cartoons - An Afterword

---> Articles Section

By Web-Ed

a humorama magazine

The Humorama Series has probably been the most monumental undertaking I have ever been involved with here at CSR, at least in terms of the quantity of related M/F spanking material unearthed for the pleasure of CSR readers. (My combined search efforts for comic-book spankings from all sources has been larger and longer but of course produced a less-homogeneous group of spankings). Very few other spanking sites do much in the way of original, substantial research using primary sources - Richard Windsor with vintage photography and Spanking Panels with comics are the only ones that come readily to mind - since such research is always difficult or expensive, and often both. Because of this, I think I can safely say that nothing comparable to The Humorama Series has ever been presented or even attempted by any other spanking site on the web.

humorama in-house promo

Back in 2011, having previously posted 52 Humorama spanking cartoons or "spankers" as Humorama editor Abe Goodman used to call them, I decided to do what I thought would be an ambitious year-long series and present one new "spanker" per week. More source material began pouring in, so I extended the series through a second year and finally into a third, until by the end all but a tiny handful of these cartoons have been presented. With the conclusion of the series in August 2013 (excepting any future discoveries), it's time to step back and look at the Humorama Spanking cartoons as a whole. (For a brief discussion of what Humorama was, see Snappy Spanking Verse. For some critical analysis on "The Big Six" (Bill Ward, Bill Wenzel, Kirk Stiles, Dan DeCarlo, Homer Provence, and George Morrice) - the six most important Humorama spanking cartoonists - see The Big Six Compared).

I became introduced to these cartoons rather late in the day - that is, Humorama's day - with a couple of late-70's issues of Popular Jokes, the last survivor of the Humorama line. Although they looked a little dated by then, I was thrilled to find them because while I had known about spankings in comic books, I had never seen a spanking cartoon before (note that comics and cartoons are similar but different forms). I had a hard time finding Popular Jokes outside of the Chicago city limits, which suggests that distribution was a problem for Humorama (as indeed we know it was for major comic-book publishers).


The Humorama Spanking Cartoons are a significant body of work for several reasons. First, they were part of a series of magazines, the various Humorama digests, which were aimed at a largely vanilla audience. That was the only time this would be true for a comparably-sized body of spanking cartoons – while Playboy, Penthouse, etc. had some spanking cartoons, they were few in number, and while there are modern spanking cartoonists, their work tends to appear in specialty spanking venues such as CSR, Shadow Lane, Discipline and Desire, etc. Second, while there were some similar contemporary efforts by other publishers, they are the largest body of spanking cartoons or indeed spanking artwork of any kind from that period (1955, when the first "modern" one appeared, to 1981, when Humorama closed its doors forever). Third, the quality of these cartoons is comparatively high – yes, the gags are sometimes pretty silly, but they’re enough to generate a chuckle, and the artwork was top-notch by humor cartoon standards, especially the ink wash pieces by Wenzel, Stiles, and DeCarlo, and Ward’s highly polished work with the conte crayon. And lastly, they are the most overtly erotic spanking cartoons that had ever appeared in print up to that point. It should be noted that these last two characteristics did not spring to life full-born at the beginning, but rather developed over time as the cartoons rapidly evolved during the days after the first one appeared.


Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was in fact viewing the third printing of these “spankers”. Information on Humorama was scarce until quite recently, when Fantagraphics published three books of its cartoons, people like Jim Linderman (Vintage Sleaze) and I began talking about it, and the original art began to turn up for sale more frequently (thanks to the advent of the internet). I had begun posting the “spankers” on CSR in 2004, but I had found many of these elsewhere on the ‘net without any publication details and it wasn’t really until 2010 when Mike turned over the collection of cartoons he had extracted from the digests in the 60’s to me that the pieces began falling into place. I then began purchasing many of the original 1950’s digests from the estates of collectors, some of whom had been the original newsdealers. Later assistance from Steve W., from Michael, and from CSR Resident Artists Dan Rivera and Hugob00m helped me complete the picture. Most of the spanking cartoonists and all the important ones have now been identified; also, I have reached some surprising conclusions:

a humorama magazine
  1. The bulk of the "spankers" were produced in a relatively short timeframe, specifically 1956 - 1960. From 1961 on, most of the spanking cartoons that appeared were being reprinted. A few new ones were done by Bill Wenzel during Humorama's final decade (1972-81) (Ward did at least one also), but none of the details are yet known because I have so few magazines from this period.
  2. The "spanking density" was not as high as I had expected given the large number of "spankers" [217 as of May, 2015] - most issues had none or only one; a few had two or more. We only ended up with as many "spankers" as we did because there were so many digests published, perhaps 60 to 72 issues in a year.
  3. Editor Abe Goodman had a definite interest in spanking. Whether he got the chance to spank women in his personal life is something we'll probably never know, but the occasional spanking verse or text piece which he must have written himself show a certain love of the subject matter. This is probably why he was willing to buy so many spanking cartoons, although there must certainly have been a demand for them among readers which may have influenced his decision to publish so many.
  4. Nine F/M cartoons were produced - this came as a very unwelcome surprise. My theory is that some readers wrote to Goodman requesting F/M scenes, and Goodman then passed this on to Bill Ward, with whom he a had a good working relationship. Kirk Stiles also did couple of these and even Bill Wenzel did one, but they may have been following Ward's lead since Ward did most of them. They are of little interest to most of CSR's readers, so no more will be said about them here although eight of them are available on the Humor Page for the convenience of those few who may care (the ninth, by Bill Ward, involves a boy being spanked by his mother).
  5. There were more Humorama titles than anyone had suspected, including the flagship Humorama itself as the company's first attempt at a full-size magazine in the late 50's, Quips (dates unknown), Laugh All the Way, the revivals of the old non-Humorama titles Whiz-Bang and Wink under the Humorama banner, and two publications intended for military personnel, Marine Humor (1943-44) and Snafu (1955-56). Marine Humor came out before the classic era of Humorama's spanking cartoons, but Snafu was published just as the era was beginning, leading to another unanswered question: were there any spankings in Snafu? It appears the answer is no: Snafu was edited by Stan Lee and was Goodman's answer to MAD, so it was never in the Humorama format. (For a list of all Humorama titles for which I have been able to at least find one good cover scan, see the Humorama Cover Gallery).

ericson flyswatter spanking

Let’s trace the flowering of the form now.

Here is the earliest spanking cartoon I have yet located in a Humorama digest, Eric Ericson’s Fly Swatter Spanking from the December, 1954 issue of Joker. (Keziah's Fresh Fish Spanking is now also believed to have appeared that year).

On the detail page, I maintain that this was not really a true “spanker” in the sense that Abe Goodman used that term because it followed the age-old pattern of the “Bend over, get a swat” gag that, with minor modifications, had been around for thirty years or more already by that point and that had been a staple of Burlesque (see this spanking skit from the musical Gypsy). We notice that (1) there is no OTK position as would become commonplace; (2) the spanker’s bare hand, potentially representing intimate contact with the spankee’s bottom, is not used; and (3) the spankee’s bottom is not presented as an erogenous zone – we don’t have a clear viewing angle and it’s not very well defined under her dress. As we will see, these things were soon to change.

wenzel first secretary spanking

The first true Humorama “spanker”, in my opinion, is this one from Bill Wenzel that appeared in the July 1955 issue of Comedy. There was another secretary spanking from a different publisher that had seen print before this, but it wasn’t much earlier and I don’t know if Wenzel could have seen it before drawing this one. Only seven months had passed since Ericson’s Fly-Swatter Spanking, but what a difference they made: here we have a true OTK hand spanking with a sexier spankee whose dress has been pulled up (not quite all the way yet). The boss looks very strict, and there is still no sign that either he or the spankee might actually enjoy the spanking, but overall, this cartoon is a milestone. The Secretary Spanking became the most popular spanking sub-genre at Humorama, with more than 35 additional examples to follow over the next seven years!

wenzel tight dress spanking

Let’s see another Wenzel cartoon from a few years later (exact date still unknown). I have deliberately chosen an example which is almost identical in subject matter (boss spanks secretary) so that we can more easily see the development in its treatment.

  • Wenzel has by this time perfected the ink wash, which is very well-controlled, especially in depicting the spankee’s dress. Speaking of which…
  • One important measure of a spanking cartoon’s eroticism is how sexily the spankee’s behind is presented, which in turn is a function of several factors including shape, proportion, definition, and clothing. In the previous cartoon, the secretary’s bottom was not particularly emphasized, but it sure is this time – it’s fairly large, well-rounded, and encased in a form-fitting fabric that clothiers could only dream of! Note that Wenzel apparently decided to go this route instead of lifting up the spankee’s dress far enough to reveal her cami-knickers beneath, which was the method chosen by other artists such as Stiles and Morrice (Ward used both). The secretary is bent fairly far over the boss’s knee, and of course the greater the bending at the waist the greater the emphasis on the bottom.
  • The boss looks less angry than the first one did, so perhaps he’s enjoying this just a little.

dan decarlo spanking secretarial school

Let’s see one more secretary spanking, this time from Dan DeCarlo to observe how he handled this theme differently from Wenzel but still with greater eroticism than the very early spanking cartoons.

  • Presenting the spankee’s bottom in a sexy manner is just as important to DeCarlo as it was to Wenzel, but instead of using a clinging dress, he has it pulled up to reveal her cami-knickers. Of course the logical extension would be to increase the eroticism still more by taking them down to reveal her bare bottom, but that would have been going a little too far in March 1956 when this cartoon first appeared.
  • DeCarlo’s OTK positioning is generally better than Wenzel’s, although the only aspect of the position we’re concerned with for the moment is how well it presents the spankee’s behind, and DeCarlo is quite good at that!
  • DeCarlo typically shows the spanker enjoying himself while the innocent (or not very bright) spankee is taken in by whatever phony rationale he has given her for the spanking (e.g. spelling errors as we see here). This in fact is what drives the humor in most of DeCarlo’s “spankers”. It would be even more erotic to suggest that the spankee enjoys getting spanked, but DeCarlo doesn’t do this because it would make the cartoon less humorous.

comedy sept 1958 magazine cover

Now this last observation brings us to a crucial aspect of the humorous spanking cartoon: humor and eroticism are always somewhat at odds with each other. One problem the cartoonist faced then and still faces today is how to balance these elements: he can keep them about even, or push the humor above eroticism, or sacrifice some humor to make the cartoon more erotic. Of course the two can and do co-exist, going back at least to the ancient Roman farce and persisting into the modern era with such forms as Burlesque – and the Humorama cartoons, spanking and non-spanking alike. But as we penetrate more deeply into the human psyche, bringing the ancient and powerful desires of sexual domination and submission into the foreground, humor must recede gradually until it is no longer visible at all. At that point, we have a purely erotic work, such as one of Paula Meadows’ drawings featuring a woman willingly bending over with legs well apart to receive the cane on her bare buttocks.

stiles spanking marriage counsellor

The Humorama cartoonists of course could not and did not take things that far – my point in all this is that the one of the key features of these classic cartoons is that they typically increased the level of eroticism beyond where it had been for the previous thirty years to such a degree that it became an undeniable element of the work. But some of them did take the further step of having the spankee enjoy her spanking. Let’s see the effect of doing so in Spanking Marriage Counselor by Kirk Stiles.

Now this spanking of a young wife by the marriage counsellor she and her husband have consulted was unplanned and non-consensual in the sense that no one asked the wife if she wanted to be spanked, yet her expression reveals that she loves it! Even though there is some pretense at discipline – to be precise, the counsellor demonstrating to the husband how to discipline his wife for the good of their marriage, which is the source of the humor – the erotic elements are strong, from her well-presented shapely derriere clad only in cami-knickers to the expression of deep joy and satisfaction on her face. Stiles excelled at expressions, and along with Homer Provence and Bill Ward occasionally allows the spankee to enjoy herself.

homer birthday spanking

Speaking of Homer, let’s see one of his efforts along a similar line. This one, first printed in 1958, represents a pseudo-birthday spanking, and it’s obvious both spanker and spankee are enjoying themselves. Although less accomplished technically than the art in Stiles’ Spanking Marriage Counsellor, Homer’s cartoon goes further than Stiles’ in presenting a couple who enjoy consensual spanking as sexual foreplay, and in this respect Homer was more ahead of his time than any of the other Big Six cartoonists. Both man and woman are having a really good time, there is no pretense of discipline, but also note that while this cartoon has a warmth which makes us feel good and brings a smile to the face, the obvious sexuality prevents it from being laugh-out-loud funny.

ward swatting the fly (behind)

To conclude our Humorama survey, let’s take a brief look at the cartoons of the remaining members of the Big Six, Bill Ward and George Morrice, and at those of two of the second-tier men, Herc Ficklen and Stanley Rayon. First up is this pair of Ward’s.

A man whacking a pretty girl’s behind while pretending to swat a fly is an old gag (CSR Resident Artist Dan Rivera once remarked that it was so old it had whiskers) but a fairly good one. Note Ward’s skill with the conte crayon, although Hugoboom pointed out he made an anatomical error in having the buttock above the forward leg pushed up and out. Most of the Humorama artists made such errors, I believe largely because they couldn’t afford to spend too much time on these things, although some of the lesser talents (whom we won’t see here) simply never really mastered the basics of anatomy. Also notice that the emphasis on the gag lessens any erotic effect. This one appeared in 1956.

ward seat of the trouble spanking

I chose the second Ward cartoon for its blatant eroticism even though it’s F/F. The weakness of the gag, which revolves around the double-meaning of the word “seat”, allows us to concentrate on the spankee’s expression – no smiles, but she’s obviously deep into “sub space” where her submissive nature comes to the fore.

herc ficklen nautical spanking

Herc Ficklen’s Nautical Spanking is a simple line drawing, but again we have a spankee whose sly smile indicates she’s absolutely o.k. with this form of maritime discipline, and whose well-rounded bottom provides an attractive target. This one dates from 1957.

stanley rayon shrink spanks patient

I’ve placed a lot of emphasis on the undeniable eroticism of showing a spankee who enjoys getting spanked, but this isn’t the only way to underscore the erotic elements of a scene. Stanley Rayon’s greatest virtue was the way he drew undeniably sexy women, and a sexy spankee tends to make for a sexy spanking cartoon. Here we have the standard “Shrink Spanks Patient” gag, which is actually pretty funny, but the cartoon is also hot stuff because of the beautifully proportioned spankee. The way Rayon has drawn the patient with a pretty face, a generous but not Ward-sized bust, and most importantly a well-defined, round, and beautiful behind that begs to be spanked, makes this an erotic cartoon as well as a humorous one. This cartoon had been printed by 1958 based on its appearance on a cover that year (see below).

We have seen that from the spanking cartoon's first appearance in a modern form in 1955, it rapidly became more sophisticated, with more polished techniques (ink wash and conte crayon) in 1956 and increased eroticism in the form of very sexy spankees who sometimes enjoy getting spanked in 1957-58. What factors can explain this rapid development? Three things immediately come to mind:

joker aug 1958 cover with stanley rayon shrink spanks patient

  1. We had an editor, Abe Goodman, who would readily buy well-crafted spanking cartoons.
  2. Although Humorama had been around since 1938 and had had some decent cartoonists contributing to it, the "Big Six" plus men like Herc Ficklen and Stanley Rayon provided a first-rate talent pool that hadn't really been available much earlier (except for Ward). These artists were for the most part willing, able, and even eager to push the cartoon form forwards.
  3. The 1950's, although often stigmatized as an era of stale conformity, was actually quite a dynamic period in the American arts, and sexual mores were becoming more liberated, continuing a trend that went back to the 20's. For example, bare bosoms began showing up in men's magazines (e.g. Playboy) around 1953, while the more daring bare derriere had to wait until 1957. It cannot be a complete coincidence that the Humorama spanking cartoon began to flower right about the same time.
I'll have some more to say about the 1950's when I trace the more general history of the spanking cartoon, including non-Humorama sources, in a future article.

return to articles page button Back to ARTICLES page
return to home page button Back to HOME page