Josie DeCarlo, wife of legendary Archie cartoonist Dan DeCarlo and inspiration for his signature character Josie, passed away in her sleep last night. Mark Evanier had the news and information on services.
Born Josie Dumont in France, she met her husband on a blind date during World War II. DeCarlo had been drafted and found himself working for the allied forces as an artist — drawing for Army publications and designing nose art for bomber planes — when he was introduced to Dumont in Belgium. The pair were married and returned home to settle in New York where Dan soon found work for Timely Comics. In the 1950s, the retraction in the comic book market led DeCarlo to take his wares to newspapers, launching the daily strip “Willie Lumpkin” with writer Stan Lee.
Around this time, DeCarlo — already known for his voluptuous pin-up girl art — designed a new teen girl character based on his wife when he saw Josie’s new bouffant hair style tied up with a black ribbon. The resulting “Here’s Josie” comic strip earned some interest, but the artist decided to hold it while he kept up some comic book work. Ultimately, he missed his window with the United Features syndicate and opted to take the character to Archie Comics where he was making a splash on the publisher’s “Betty & Veronica” series.
Launching in 1963, “She’s Josie” became a hit book for Archie focusing on a slightly more modern teen gang than the rest of the Archie line. Josie DeCarlo remained a source of inspiration for her husband as his primary model, and when the publisher asked him to introduce a musical element to the book in the late ’60s based on the popularity of their “The Archies” recording group, the artist based the matching outfits of rockers Josie & The Pussycats on a Halloween costume his wife had wore on a Caribbean cruise.
Josie DeCarlo remained by her husband’s side over the next 30 years as he worked on various Archie comics. In 2001, when Archie and the artist had a very public falling out over the rights to the Josie character when “Josie & The Pussycats” was turned into a film, she supported him through many public appearances and interviews until his death in December of that year.