Posted in: Comics, Heritage Sponsored, Vintage Paper | Tagged: , ,

Dan DeCarlo on the Comic Book Debut of My Friend Irma, Up for Auction

My Friend Irma was the franchise that brought Martin & Lewis to film, but it was also some of the best Dan DeCarlo work outside of Archie.

Article Summary

  • Explore Dan DeCarlo's work on 'My Friend Irma,' a Marvel comic series running from 1950-1955.
  • Learn about 'My Friend Irma's' origins, from radio to film, starring Marie Wilson as Irma.
  • Discover the connection between CBS's Arthur Perles and the Marvel comic book adaptation.
  • Dan DeCarlo's art on 'Irma' preludes his definitive style for Archie Comics in the 1950s.

Remembered today mainly for two films that first brought Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis to the big screen, My Friend Irma originated from a long-running radio situation comedy created by Cy Howard. The franchise eventually expanded to include a television series, two movies, a comic strip, and a Marvel/Atlas comic book series.  Across all these versions, the storyline follows the misadventures of Irma Peterson, a beautiful but ditzy stenographer, and her roommate Jane Stacy, a sensible secretary, as they navigate life in New York City.  Other characters include Irma's boyfriend Al, a lazy schemer, Jane's boss, millionaire Richard Rhinelander III, and upstairs neighbor Professor Kropotkin, a violinist.  Actress Marie Wilson portrayed Irma on radio, television, and film.

My Friend Irma #3 (Marvel, 1950)
My Friend Irma #3 (Marvel, 1950)

The radio show aired on CBS from April 11, 1947, to August 23, 1954, while the TV series ran on CBS from January 8, 1952, until June 1954. The two films, My Friend Irma (1949) and My Friend Irma Goes West (1950), starred Wilson and Diana Lynn, in addition to Martin and Lewis. The comic strip began syndication on September 11, 1950 and was reportedly taken over by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo in 1951, although the strip seems to have ended in mid-1952.

Interestingly, the Marvel comic book version of My Friend Irma outlasted every other part of the franchise.  Dan DeCarlo provided covers and most of the interior art for all 46 issues of the series, which ran June 1950 – February 1955.  GCD tentatively credits the stories to Stan Lee, with many including his byline.  Most issues have a small photo of star Marie Wilson on the cover, and contain a "based on" credit for franchise creator Cy Howard.  Howard was an accomplished director, producer, and screenwriter, winning a Primetime Emmy Award for his work on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

According to the book The Secret History of Marvel Comics, CBS Assistant Director of Publicity Arthur Perles arranged for Marvel to license My Friend Irma for comic books, along with other CBS radio properties Suspense and Casey, Crime Photographer. Perles had been the editor of Martin Goodman pulp True Crime Magazine in 1936 and was also the older brother of Goodman business attorney Jerry Perles. Notably, Marvel launched licensed comics based on Western movie stars Whip Wilson and Reno Browne around the same time that My Friend Irma debuted.

Best remembered for a style that came to define the look of Archie Comics by the end of the 1950s, Dan DeCarlo's sexy, funny, charming artwork proved to be a perfect match for My Friend Irma.  His work on this series stands alongside his formative ten-year run on Millie the Model Comics as among his most significant runs at Marvel.   The title starts with issue #3, and is generally believed to have taken over the numbering of either My Diary or Western Life Romances. When My Friend Irma ended, DeCarlo and Lee launched a somewhat similar title with My Girl Pearl.  The series debuted with My Friend Irma #3 (Marvel, 1950) Condition: VG, which is up for auction in the 2024 June 16-18 Sunday, Monday & Tuesday Comic Books Select Auction #122425.

My Friend Irma #3 (Marvel, 1950)
My Friend Irma #3 (Marvel, 1950)
Heritage Sponsored
Affiliates of Bleeding Cool buy from and/or consign to Heritage Auctions.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

Stay up-to-date and support the site by following Bleeding Cool on Google News today!

Mark SeifertAbout Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press since 1996. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler, and has been with Bleeding Cool since its 2009 beginnings. Wrote extensively about the comic book industry for Wizard Magazine 1992-1996. At Avatar Press, has helped publish works by Alan Moore, George R.R. Martin, Garth Ennis, and others. Vintage paper collector, advisor to the Overstreet Price Guide Update 1991-1995.
Comments will load 20 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.