The Pin-Up Girls of Bill Ward is the most recent release from Fantagraphics editors Alex Chun and Jacob Covey in their popular Pin-Up Art and Glamour Girls series covers the art of talented and legendary Bill Ward, creator of the super-sexy “Torchy,” one of the major reasons for the introduction of the Comics Code Authority in the 1950’s. Like the earlier artists showcased in the series (Dan DeCarlo, Bill Wenzel and Don Flowers,) Bill Ward’s pin-up girls are fully realized sexual fantasies brought to exaggerated life in the way that only a cartoonist can realize them. Unlike the other artists though, and despite Alex Chun’s statement to the contrary in his excellent introduction, Bill Ward’s women are not innocent doe eyed young girls emerging into an exciting world of newfound sexuality, but fully realized man-eating vixens out for money and a good time. A Bill Ward girl knows how to best exploit her assets.

A Bill Ward girl is as likely to pick your pocket as melt your heart. His women are gold diggers, prostitutes and strippers; stunning, sexy, fantasy women who, like a black hole, draw you inexorably into their orbit, then destroy you. We could compare Ward’s attitude towards the women in his art with the women in his life, and contrast it with Dan DeCarlo’s relationships ad nauseum, but we would only glean some sad psychological insight, and that would detract from the allure of this book, which frankly is “stunning young woman boasting Barbie-like proportions- and then some…”

In one sense Bill Ward is an unusual choice for the series. The previous three artists are less known, (in the case of Dan DeCarlo less known for his pin-up work, not for his massive contributions to Archie comics and the invention of Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch and Josie and the Pussycats) and producing a book on them is long overdue. Bill Ward, on the other hand, has been covered in several books, most recently an incredible 342 page tome from Taschen. The reason I think he is an unusual choice for the Fantagraphics series is because he is so obvious a choice. I was hoping that editors Chun and Covey would give me a book full of cartoons from a lesser known but deserving artist in this field about which I will admit to knowing little, but am always pleased to learn more about.