BETTIE PAGE #1, available from Dynamite Comics on July 15th, follows the iconic pinup queen as she gets her big movie break and winds up in the middle of a murder mystery. Karla Pacheco’s story and Vincenzo Federici’s art combine for a sometimes-silly, and lighthearted, romp that hearkens back to the camp and circumstance of B-movie film making.
Jung-Geun Yoon’s cover is a fresh, modern take on the classic cheesecake paintings of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Bettie Page looks ready for a fun day at the beach in one of her timeless swimsuits. What’s unique about this painting is Yoon’s blurring technique for the background to make a painting look simultaneously like a photograph. It gives the art a 3-D effect; that’s a nice touch.
Pacheco’s story is over-the-top ridiculous in a way that fits right in with the classic comedy-of-errors type farces that were so prevalent in the early 20th century. Bettie Page and friends are flown out to a remote island to film her big movie debut. While there, Bettie encounters catty rivals, crooked producers, and elephants(?) during the frantically disorganized week of filming. Just when things couldn’t get any worse, the male lead is murdered, and things only go downhill from there.
Pacheco’s characters are exaggerated caricatures of classic Hollywood types. The plot is super silly but loaded with charm. And throughout it all, Bettie Page is written as the slightly naive but always hopeful hero that you can’t help like.
Vincenzo Federici does an admirable job rendering arguably one of the most photographed women on the planet. Bettie looks like a fully-realized character constantly in motion, as if in a windswept photoshoot that never ends. It sounds cheesy and ridiculous, and it is, but that’s part of the charm for both the writing and the art. Federici move Bettie from one panel to the next in snapshot poses that mimic how some of her iconic photos would have been taken if you had present to witness the snapshot.
It’s almost as if Federici is drawing Pacheco’s story in a documentary style. You can almost picture all these story shenanigans going on behind the scenes, which makes Federici’s art all the more impressive for bringing a surreal reality into comics.
Rebecca Nalty’s coloring gets the job done, but it doesn’t quite work for the theme and tone of the issue. The entire story is a wild and over-the-top farce, so it would have played better to see more pop and bolder use of colors. Here, even the red dresses are muted to the point of dull. Again, Nalty does a fine job, but the drab color choices miss the mark.
Becca Carey’s lettering is top-notch for this episode. In between the characters running around like a slightly more adult version of the Scooby Gang, there’s quite a lot of dialog going on between the characters to establish their personalities. Carey keeps the pace up by spanning the word balloons across panel borders like a cascading waterfall to keep the reader’s eye moving. Nice work by Carey.
BETTIE PAGE #1, available from Dynamite Comics on July 15th, is a charming, silly, bawdy start to an imaginary tale in the life of the seminal pin-up queen. The writing is lighthearted fun, and the art flows with the tropical breezes. This is a great choice for Bettie Page fans of all ages.