A tribute and profile to the late and much missed inker Bill Kresse, who drew work over 50 years ago that looks pretty darn good today.
If ever there was a vintage sleaze cartoonist from the 1950s deserving a retrospective showing at the Drawing Center, it would be Bill Kresse. As modern as a Herman Miller Eames chair and just as timeless, his early gag work for sleazy digests stands out for many reasons. Lush and creative, the women all sharp, angular shoulders and heavily detailed dress, the fellas all whirring, confused and excited motion, fevered and flushed. All players in a Kresse panel are happy to be alive and participating in this retro-human game. Fingers and heels like spikes on the dames, gunboats as wide as shoeboxes on the guys. Several things distinguish a Kresse cartoon from the 1950s...One, he always took time to put glass over the modern art on the wall (as if he aspired to the same treatment, which he now deserves) and the large, undulating ribbons of bold black ink which surround his characters in elegant swerves. Surprisingly, his work has not been anthologized much that I can tell. Bill Kresse published a book way back entitled "An Introduction to Cartooning" with the subtitle "It's a Magic World" and in his case, it must have been. Although drawn and sold to over the counter girly cartoon pulp digests, these figures are always clothed (in dresses Lady Gaga could only imagine, if that) and although emotions are at a peak, for the guys anyway, the gags are always harmless, human and honest. Great work from a great artist. Kresse went on to do panel work for New York Daily Papers and had a series for which he became well-known, "Super Duper" and even worked with Terrytoons. An under appreciated master who created work which looks better today than it did 50 years ago.
A nice note from DEVLIN adds the following : Kresse also did work in ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE in the mid-'60s, which stuck out like a sore thumb stylistically. I never learned his name until reading an article about his newspaper work in an issue of HOGAN'S ALLEY