Posted By Art Baxter


We begin a eight part exposé on the topless naked female back in the history of comics. An esoteric topic of absolutely no importance whatsoever. You may think that it is possibly the dumbest comics related topic yet and considering we're talking comics, it most likely isn't. However, I think you will find it as interesting and, dare I say, as tantalizing, as the title promises.

This topic was born as I thought about the Mort Walker BEETLE BAILY cartoon I posted last week to celebrate Mr. W's 85th birthday. The strip featured a young woman, topless, as seen from the back strolling down the beach. I had remembered similar exposed rear views in books featuring reprints of old comics I have on my shelf. It is a thrilling image made more-so by it's restraint. It is an image that has appeared in movies prior the the exposed breast becoming a gratuitous, yet welcome, attraction in the early 1970's. Prior to that, the exposed female back promised what the filmmaker could not precisely deliver. For example, Russ Meyer's notorious 1965 feature FASTER PUSSYCAT, KILL KILL features no nudity save the rear, waist up, view of Lori Williams as she bathes at a water tower. Cleavage aplenty but no nudity. Cartoonist also tried to get away with murder by exposing the back. Although the five examples I will provide from the 1930s to the early 1970s do not directly allude to sex, they are mighty sexy. I will present them to you in reverse order.

The first strip is a daily HI & LOIS strip from September 28, 1971. H&L was a family strip and one that was produced by cartoonist Mort Walker's shop along with BEETLE BAILY and BONER'S ARK. I do remember seeing this particular strip as a kid and being completely embarrassed. "Mom" Lois, not wanting to get wet while bathing the toddler, Trixie, strips down to her panties. It's an innocent enough set up, but artist Dik Browne draws it so sexily it's irresistible. Lois has a stunning hourglass figure and she is kneeling down, we see the sole and toes of her left foot. This was practically the only way to smuggle so much exposed female flesh into a family strip like this. According to Mort Walker's book, BACKSTAGE AT THE STRIPS, some angry letters were received.

Considering the context of a baby bath, only the most ardent prude would get bent out of shape. It just points out Walker & Browne's brilliance for smuggling it through the syndicates censor. Bravo, gentlemen!

NEXT: A teen strip from 1959.

HI & LOIS is © King Features Syndicate

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