The Comic Book Life of Bettie Page

The 85 year-old woman who passed away on December 11th was the original Bettie Page but not the only one. Here we celebrate another of the many lives of the Queen of Pin-Ups.
Let's begin from a personal perspective. When your humble columnist was a wide-eyed young comic fan in the late 80s/early 90s, flipping through the price guides and catalogs, he'd encounter listings for Bettie Page playing cards, artwork and maquettes. The vivacious woman depicted looked just like the sex-kittenish model girlfriend of Cliff Secord in Dave Stevens' acclaimed comic series The Rocketeer. So the question became: Is Bettie Page a real person or a fictional creation?

The answer to both was "Yes."

The "real" (or original) version started out as Betty Mae Page, and in some films and photos of the 1950s she was billed as "Betty" Page. But whenever the former schoolteacher from Nashville signed any of the countless magazines, advertisements, paperback books and album covers on which she appeared, her signature read "Bettie Page." It was under that name she served as Miss January 1955 for Playboy magazine, whose publisher, Hugh Hefner, anointed Page "Miss Pin-Up Girl of the World."

But in 1957 she withdrew from public life and became a born-again Christian. In the eyes of the world at large, Bettie Page ceased to exist.

It was long-time fan Stevens who began the renaissance in 1982 -- not only with The Rocketeer but also through his efforts to acquire royalty payments for Page from her past work. The Betty Pages, a fanzine begun by Greg Theakston in 1987, fanned the spark of public interest into a worldwide flame that reached scorching levels with the 1991 film adaptation of The Rocketeer. A year later, the "original" Ms. Page emerged from a mental hospital right into the middle of her own career revival.

Fan clubs and later websites multiplied, and the long-reclusive Bettie made herself available for it. Persuaded by autograph seller Todd Mueller, Page agreed to her first signing event in the 90s and sold roughly 3,000 autographs for between $200 and $300. Each.

But though she benefited from it, the Bettie Page revival didn't actually need the Real Deal. Beginning with writer-artist Jim Silke's large-format book Bettie Page: Queen of Hearts, Dark Horse Comics proceeded to corner the market in the mid-90s with the "official" BP series, all of which featured some level of involvement from artist Stevens. These included Bettie Page: Queen of the Nile, which starred "Jungle Bettie," the character created for Bunny Yeager's 1954 photo session at Boca Raton's Africa USA Wildlife park (Bettie made her own leopard-patterned costume).

Then there were Bettie Page Comics Spicy Adventure and Betty vs. Nosferatu. Eros Comics published several titles, the most popular of which was Tor Love Bettie, centered around Page's tongue-in-cheek romance with wrestler-turned-actor Tor Johnson.

There followed everything from e-comics to 3D adventures, depicting Bettie as she appeared in her various photo sessions, such as the Dark Angel of Irving Klaw's BDSM photos and film loops -- the character that best demonstrated Page's versatility. She was a non-drinking, non-smoking, nice girl who could be just plain-spanking naughty.

"Bettie Page embodied the stereotypical wholesomeness of the Fifties and the hidden sexuality straining beneath the surface," wrote Karen Essex & James L. Swanson in the 1996 book Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend.

Whether or not she was aware of it at the time, Bettie came to acknowledge that she was "the girl next door who got the girl next door thinking." This attitude helps explain her fascination for many a talented artist -- including Olivia De Berardinis and the late Robert Blue -- and why she made such an impression on the comic book world.

After all, being just "The Girl with the Perfect Figure" wouldn't have given her such longevity. Beneath the 36-24-35 measurements of her 5' 5-1/2" frame beat the heart of a woman with an honest joie de vivre, a devout Christian who never regretted taking off her clothes for the camera.

"God approves of nudity," she told Playboy in 1998. "Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they were naked as jaybirds."

But as comfortable as she was being photographed in the 50s, she was just as adamantly opposed to it in her old age. "I feel the same way with old movie stars. We want to remember them when they were young."

Thanks to photo archives and the artist's canvas, Bettie Page will remain forever young and ready for the next generation. In the meantime, we wish the "original" Betty Mae Page a peaceful rest.


[Thanks to Vampress.net, grrl.com, Bibi.org, MTV's GIL KAUFMAN, the Daily Telegraph's HANNAH BETTS, AP's BOB THOMAS and Wikipedia.]
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PAnthony
12/15/2008
Reuters

1 Comments

On the life of the Bettie page we have found the book with the comics on her life as in the 1950s with the all old pictures. She was model from the America belonging life on bestdissertations depicted from the modeling she changed the moral of the life.
ryrihywo - 11/11/2018, 9:44 PM

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