ROGUE June 1963
MAGAZINE ILLUSTRATIONS AND STRIPS
Wenzel cartoons in magazines number into the thousands. Many of the best are full-page color panels like the ROGUE cartoon from June 1963 shown here. Hundreds of Humorama digests and SEX TO SEXTY magazines contain classic Wenzel art.
It has been estimated that Bill Ward did 10,000 cartoons, and Wenzel surely came close if he did not exceed Ward's impressive total. There are also countless Wenzel magazine and digest covers, like this SWEET SEXTEEN Vol 1, No 1 from 1956.
Curiously there are two different versions of THE FLIMSEY REPORT with different Wenzel covers. The Kinsey Report was all the rage in 1953, and naturally there were several cartoon parodies. The 1953 publication shown here first, which says Grayson Publishing Co. on the title page and Farrell Publishing Co. on the copyright page is really a book in magazine format.
It has a $1. price on the cover when most magazines were a quarter, is perfect bound, and runs to 62 pages. The 1953 magazine shown here after it is staple-bound with a 25c cover price. It is identified as “The Funny Bone” for Winter-Spring 1953. The publisher is W.J. Smith Publishing Corp. and it has 32 pages of cartoons and jokes. There are several similarities between these two different publications. Both use the same cover blurb: “Fun with Dr. Flimsy and his report on the sex life of the American female”. Both are titled THE FLIMSEY (not Flimsy) REPORT, and both have Wenzel covers. The cover of the Grayson version re-appears as the title page of the W.J. Smith version, although it has been redrawn – the woman's dress is different, the man's face and tie are different and the book he is holding now says “KINSEY REPORT”. The caption of the Grayson edition cover is “I not only read it – I sent in 69 pages of information!” The caption of the same cartoon in the other edition is “I not only read it but I sent in twenty pages of information.” At least two of the pages of jokes inside match, and some but not all of the cartoons are the same. The W.J. Smith version has no editor credited. The Grayson version says “Edited by Bill Wenzel” on the title page.
THE FLIMSEY REPORT edited by Bill Wenzel, Grayson Publishing Co., 1953.
Both covers and 40 of the cartoons are by Wenzel.
THE FLIMSEY REPORT – The Funny Bone, W.J. Smith Publishing Corp., Winter-Spring 1953. Cover and 11 of the cartoons are by Wenzel.
Also shown: title page of the W.J. Smith edition, a different version of the cartoon used for the Grayson cover.
In addition to his work as a cartoonist, Wenzel occasionally contributed interior illustrations for magazine stories. I've started listing those illustrations here, but you can help this project if you have or know of other Wenzel interior illustrations. I was aware of his illustrations from 1966-67, but my friends at American Art Enterprises (see their sales on eBay) turned up a SAGA from 1952 with art by W. Wenzel – the earliest such magazine illustration I've seen. Surely there must be more of them out there.
SAGA February 1952 – two-page illustration for “Transfer To Paradise”
“Bed and Board” from BLUEBOOK July 1962
ACE September 1966 – uncredited illustration for “The Great Molasses Barter”
fiction by Charles Schrock
WILDCAT December 1967 – uncredited illustration for “Miss Emily's Naked Laughter” fiction by Bob Bristow
Cover of TRUE's GIRL WATCHER'S COLORING BOOK By Bill Wenzel – 8-page insert to the November 1962 issue of TRUE – THE MAN'S MAGAZINE
Most Wenzel cartoons are single panels. Every once in while he would do a four-panel comic for Humorama called “Miss Geewhiz”, examples of which are found in THE PIN-UP ART OF BILL WENZEL. In the December 1967 issue of DAPPER, there's a two-page comic strip called “Busty Ross”.
Advertisement found in the back pages of GUY Magazine, April 1970.
And then there's “Scarlett O'Harlot”. I have read that Wenzel never did any “porn” comics like Bill Ward and most of their contemporaries, but that is not entirely true. By 1976, you did hardcore art or you didn't work. Wenzel was doing some fabulous naughty full-page color cartoons for GENESIS magazine, and they enlisted him in 1976 to take over their “Scarlett O'Harlot” comic strip. GENESIS was a PLAYBOY wannabe, and Scarlett was their answer to PLAYBOY's popular “Little Annie Fanny” comic. Most of the men's magazines of that era had a strip, but few of them approached Annie. Wenzel did 13 of the Scarlett strips between August 1976 and March 1978. There are four others by other artists, but Wenzel's are superior, the funniest and flashiest of the lot. They billed it as an “X-Rated Comic Strip”, and it is certainly racier than anything Wenzel had done before. Although not for everyone, if you like hilarious adults-only satire, Scarlett is for you. Like Annie Fanny, Scarlett skewered all the sacred cows of the day, from Nixon & Kissinger to Jimmy Carter, plus pop culture icons like King Kong (who was big again in 1976) and movie stars like Robert Redford. “Scarlett O'Harlot” is fairly obscure today, so I have a Scarlett checklist as a sidebar here for anyone interested.
Wenzel's first “Scarlett O'Harlot” (uncredited) for GENESIS August 1976
A sample Scarlett page from GENESIS October 1976 (uncredited)
GENESIS March 1978
GENESIS April 1977
SCARLETT O'HARLOT in GENESIS MAGAZINE 1976-78
There have been PLAYBOY imitators almost since its beginnings in 1953. Some of them, like ROGUE, gave Hefner a run for his money with quality fiction, photography and illustration art. Others were just pale copies that didn't last. In the 1970s, there was serious competition from PENTHOUSE and GALLERY and GENESIS. I always used to confuse GALLERY and GENESIS because they looked so much alike, right down to the masthead. All of these competitors tried to outdo each other with ever nastier art and articles. The photographers seemed to be inventing new ways to showcase the formerly secret inner workings of their models' vaginas. There was a lot of pubic “bush” in those days, not like the decades before (and, curiously, not like now either.) PLAYBOY had a great satirical comic strip called “Little Annie Fanny”, based (like Terry Southern & Mason Hoffenberg's CANDY) on Voltaire's CANDIDE: an innocent takes us on a tour of the modern world. Soon every men's magazine had to have a comic strip. PENTHOUSE had “Wicked Wanda” and MALE had “Pussycat” and HUSTLER had whatever theirs was called, and so on down the line. GENESIS wanted on that bandwagon as well, and the cover of their April 1976 issue said “NEW X-RATED COMIC STRIP – SCARLETT O'HARLOT”. The first two issues with Scarlett featured the art of Gray Morrow. Now Gray Morrow was a fine illustrator, but “Scarlett O'Harlot” had a few problems: it wasn't X-rated, it wasn't interesting, and the kiss of death for a comic strip, it wasn't funny. GENESIS had the solution in house – one of their regular cartoonists was Bill Wenzel. The same April 1976 issue that had Scarlett's debut featured this full-page color cartoon on a different page, looking a lot like the Scarlett to come later that year:
Bill Wenzel took over the “Scarlett O'Harlot” strip in August of 1976. He did one a month for each of the last five months of that year, all of them uncredited. He did seven more installments in 1977 and one final appearance in March 1978. Starting with the January 1977 issue, he began signing his name to the first or last panel, or received credit on the table of contents. In 1978 GENESIS tried to do “Scarlett” with different artists, but the magic was gone. After a different-style strip in June 1978 by a new artist, in which it is hard to tell which of the characters is supposed to be Scarlett, the series ended.
Wenzel's “Scarletts” were always very funny, filled with satire, little side gags and rapid fire punchlines in the grand tradition of “Annie Fanny” creators Harvey Kurtzman & Will Elder. They also gave us Wenzel Girls in positions we had never seen them in before and could scarcely have imagined. For instance, in the panel from the February 1977 installment shown below, Scarlett and five of her friends are giving King Kong a twelve-handed handjob. The little devil in the corner was a GENESIS mascot.
This is the checklist of the “Scarlett O'Harlot” comic strips in GENESIS magazine:
April 1976 – Gray Morrow (3 pages) “New X-rated Comic Strip”
June 1976 - Gray Morrow (uncredited) (3 pages) Scarlett in China
August 1976 – Bill Wenzel (uncredited) (3 pages) Policewoman Movie
September 1976 – Bill Wenzel (uncredited) (4 pages) National Football
October 1976 – Bill Wenzel (uncredited) (4 pages) Presidential Conventions
November 1976 – Bill Wenzel (uncredited) (4 pages) UFOs
December 1976 – Bill Wenzel (uncredited) (4 pages) CB Radio Truckers
January 1977 – Bill Wenzel (4 pages) With Santa at The North Pole
February 1977 – Bill Wenzel (4 pages) Kinky King Kong
May 1977 – Bill Wenzel (2 pages) Spring Break
June 1977 – Bill Wenzel (3 pages) Transcendental Meditation
August 1977 – Bill Wenzel (2 pages) Scarlett in Russia
October 1977 – Bill Wenzel (2 pages) Bodybuilding Gym
December 1977 – Bill Wenzel (2 pages) College Fraternity Party
February 1978 – Vince (3 pages) The Insidious Dr. Wang
March 1978 - Bill Wenzel (2 pages) Scarlett in Outer Space
June 1978 – Brian Forbes (3 pages) Gland Hotel Casino
I have a set of the “Scarlett O'Harlot” issues for sale. Contact me if you are interested.