Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cute Girlie Stuff: Paper Dolls and Katy Keene

[Note: if you are interested in this post, then you may also want to look at more recent Out of This World posts that features more Katy Keene paper dolls and Patsy Walker and Millie the Model paper dolls].

Earlier this year I found Linda's 'The Paper Collector' blog while searching for information on Torchy Brown, a newspaper comic strip drawn by the first African American female comic artist, Jackie Ormes. Linda had a feature about Torchy Brown on one of her other blogs, in which she had posted scans of a Torchy Brown strip and the accompanying Torchy Brown paper dolls. Kind of out of the corner of my eye I noticed that paper dolls have a very enthusiastic following, just like comic books. And here was an instance where the two disciplines meet - comix scholars and paper doll students. I would be interested to know just when this association between the two began. The Torchy Brown strip featured in Linda's post is from the early 50s. I looked through comics I suspected might have paper dolls. Sure enough I came up with some (well I knew I'd seen them in there before). Some examples:

This is Patsy Walker 49 published by Atlas in November 1953. It has just one page with a paper doll. It says it's #16 (in a series?), and the clothing design appears to have been sent in by a reader.

Here's Patsy Walker in Miss America 86 from September 1957, again published by Atlas. The cover is one of the many from this period that depict 1950s suburban and small town life by the superb Al Hartley. Only one page with a paper doll on again.

Archie's Pals 'n' Gals 21 from Summer 1962 has a couple of pages with Veronica paper dolls. Are these drawn by Jon D'Agostino?

Patsy Walker 104 (Marvel, December 1962) has another great Al Hartley cover plus no less than three pages of paper dolls. Al seems to have left off the tabs from the outfits, either by design or forgetfulness - which, we'll never know. If I ever get to interview Stan Lee I have more pressing issues to ask him about, but more out of idle curiosity I might just ask him (in my dreams!). So paper doll collectors, where there's Patsy there's dolls, at least from the mid-50s through the mid-60s, as we shall see.

This one definitely is drawn by Jon D'Agostino. It's Charlton's My Little Margie 49 from September 1963, and it has just one page with a Margie cut-out doll. Note the continuing theme of reader-generated designs.

Patsy Walker 119 (Feb 1965) and Patsy & Hedy 99 (Apr 1965) each have two pages of paper dolls, but it seems that Al Hartley's tab-less outfits have persisted even though he's no longer the artist. But where does Katy Keene come into all this? Well I'm pretty sure paper dolls can be found in Katy Keene comics but I don't have proof. This is because every time I try to obtain a Katy Keene comic on eBay I get outbid or the Buy It Now price is more than I'm willing to pay. Katy Keene has a following. Katy Keene is popular. Katy Keene was published by Archie and drawn in irresistible fashion by Bill Woggon. It turns out though that, quite by accident, I do have one example in my collection. My copy of Laugh 114 (September 1960) has a 6 page Katy Keene story. So here it is - not too many panels with Katy in but enough to get a taste of Bill Woggon's unique artwork. Katy is a doe-eyed, dark-haired, perfect beauty drawn in a way that is confusingly pleasing to the eye, hence Woggon's popularity and the cost of Katy Keene books. This is, I would say, a kind of good girl art, a topic I would like to explore on another occasion, as a I feel a clear definition of the term is long overdue.

Even though there are no paper dolls with this one, the story itself uses outfits designed and sent in by readers, as do the other books sampled in this post. Thus ends my first real excursion into the world of paper dolls through the portal of comics, with a diversion into Katy Keene, as a special thanks to Linda for giving me permission previously to use her Torchy Brown scan for my presentation and article. It's also mine and my wife Sheila's 27th wedding anniversary today, and she's often told me how she used to play endlessly with paper dolls when she was a girl in the 50s. So it's nice for me to contact something from my spouse's childhood experience. Just to finish, the most recent comic that I'm aware of with, in this case, spoof paper dolls is Dexter's Laboratory 17 published by DC in January 2001. I just sold my son's collection of these and forgot to scan the cover of this one before it went, but there's a complete cover gallery in the GCD, in which you can view the one I'm referring to.


  1. I always found these mildly erotic. There. I said it out loud and I'm not sorry.

  2. Jeff: do you mean the paper dolls or Katy Keene?

  3. Love it, KB. Thanks for posting these. I'll have to alert the paper doll fans...

  4. I posted a link to this wonderful post on my blog as well-

    1. KATHLEEN! here you are! i've been wanting to thank you TOO for sharing your wonderful and hard-to-find paper dolls!! we have similar tastes in p.d. selections to add to our collections also. i appreciate your offering COMPLETE p.d. sets - you DON'T tease us w/ partial sets to copy for our collections.

      and on to this generous p.d. enthusiast. thank you thank you! i never knew there was a 'my little margie' comic book. i've coveted paper dolls up to fourteen years old, then the party scene and social life, and here i am again - in my 50's; the love for them never died. who says we don't revert back to our childhood after mid-age? THANK YOU also for automatically enlarging them so i don't have to fuss w/ fitting them onto a 8 1/2 x 11' sheet. take care...

  5. Your paper doll blog is great KB. Anything to spread the word about paper dolls. FYI, I have Issue #38 of Patsy Walker which has paper doll #5. I have the paper doll page of #1 (Patsy), #2 (Hedy Wolfe) and #4 (Nancy Brown) paper dolls. Working backwards, the first issue with paper dolls should be #34. The only issues I need from Patsy Walker (containing paper dolls I beleive) are #34, 35, 36, 37, 61, 68. As far as I know, the paper dolls stop with issue 124.
    Patsy and Hedy I need only issue #55 I think. I have all the others from #51 - #110.

    Thanks for mentioning Dexter's Laboratory #17 - that is one I need to look for:)
    I just checked my paper doll comic collection and find a few others from Jan 2001 & beyond:
    Kabuki #6, Jan 2002 B&W pd
    Betty & Veronica Double Digest #93, Jan 2001, Katy Keene & Ramon pd pages
    Last Kiss #4, 2003, pd on back cover
    Betty #125, 2003, 6 paper dolls
    Betty & Veronica Digest #104, May 2004 2 pgs pds
    Betty & Veronica Digest #185, Aug 2008, same 6 pds as in Betty #125
    Archie's Double Digest #174, Dec 2008, 1 pg Archie pd
    And in the Prism comic (LGBT guide to comics) 2007 is a several-page paper doll of a female super hero ala' Wonder Woman

  6. Whoops! Kabuki #6 is from Jan 2001. Sorry for the typo!

  7. Peggy: That is one impressive collection of Patsy Walker and Patsy & Hedy comics you have! I presume you have Millie the Model and Katy Keene collections as well? These are all difficult to collect, and expensive at times, I've noticed. If you don't already have it, Katy Keene 2 (original series) with paper dolls is available for free download from the Digital Comic Museum:

    Kathleen: Thank you for linking to my post.

    Linda: You're welcome. Thanks for spreading the word about my blog post.

  8. Great collection! Thanks for sharing!

  9. You're welcome, Anne. I'll scan the rest of my paper doll pages when I get the time, and make another post. Does anyone know if there's a book published on paper dolls in comics?

  10. I have always loved paper dolls -- I would play with the American Girl ones.

    These ones are all so curvy, its great!!!

  11. Check these out KB:

  12. The Veronica Paper Dolls are by Dan DeCarlo
    The creator of Josie and the pussycats and Sabrina the teenage witch

  13. I loved Katy paper dolls, and I designed dresses for her! I liked Bertha--I think she was Katy's friend--I cannot find her!