BOOK REVIEW: The Pin-Up Art of Bill Wenzel

By Annamarya Scaccia (, 2005)

Title: The Pin-Up Art of Bill Wenzel
Author: Edited by Alex Chun, Color and Design by Jacob Cov
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Publish Date: 2005
Pages: 198
Genres:Erotic ArtCompilation,Graphic Novels

Big is beautiful.

No more are these words truer than they are with the pin-up art delights of Bill Wenzel. A lover of curves and full-figured vivaciousness, Wenzel was known for his delicate, rounded lines and bountiful chests that often found their place in the pages of humor and men’s magazines from the 1940s through the 1970s. His voluptuous ladies would appear inJudgeSex to Sexty and Humoramadigests such as JestJoker and Gaze, only to be gawked at and admired during a time when long legs and a slim waist was the body type of choice. In The Pin-Up Art of Bill Wenzel, edited by Alex Chun, these well-proportioned and enchanting vixens Wenzel was so fond of drawing have been collected into a 198 page book for our pleasure.

There is a certain appreciation one would garner after flipping the pages of this collection. Wenzel’s quick-wit captions that accompanied his sketches are incredibly entertaining. “’Darn it! I always muff my lines when I get here’” one reads underneath a drawing featuring a luscious lady sitting on the couch while a gentleman is kneeling on the floor, aggravated, inches away from her no-no spot. For those who are fans of cunnilingus, the subtle humor in the aforementioned line is obvious, however, for those unaware of the metaphors use when speaking of the act, a caption such as “’… I always muff my lines when I get here’” is clever.

Through these illustrations, Wenzel’s worship of the female form is evident and overflowing. He is creative enough not to repeat the same female figure in each picture, or even the theme he sets them in. Each piece is done with such delicacy that they seem to emit a sense of loving and longing. It is noticeable how much individual attention he gave each random subject of his desire, and although they were masked in humor and lust, there is also a deeply profound message. What is that message? Women are in control and men are just their drooling victims. In a way, Wenzel was a feminist, just with male parts.

Yes, in a way, Wenzel’s pulp artwork is empowering to women, especially those with full curves. His sirens are often put in submissive positions, such as a secretary or nurse, yet, even within the boundaries of male dominance, the women are in control. As one pictorial states, “’Never, NEVER, call my wife at home and ask if ‘Hot Lips’ is there!’” The adulterous gentleman is bruised and beaten up while his succulent mistress is sitting down, unfazed by his condition. These women, with a drop of a dime, can take down the “male oppressors” just by strutting to their desk or looking seductively in the mist.

Wenzel’s work is attractive and erotic. However, the eroticism of the sketches is not an extent of the Rubenesque ladies, but by the progressive nature of his drawings. He may just have been drawing what he found beautiful, but the effects of such have been astounding. Not only has he given the men and women who find thicker women irresistible something to ogle at, he has also established, quite cunningly, the level of control women have over men. Will full-figured women ever be appreciated as much as they are within the lines of this book? Hopefully, but for now, we have Wenzel’s love.

Aside from the political implications The Pin-up Art of Bill Wenzel may have, the pin-up work is also talented. The lines he uses to create these exotic figures are simple and clean. They are well-proportionate compared to the real-life body and he possesses his own unique style that is consistent. Wenzel’s pin-ups are sexually comical and that, ladies and gents, is what pin-up humor is about.

Bill Wenzel is an artist for all: the comics, the lovers, the horny and the ones who loved to be tickled funny.


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