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One can only guess at what the occasion for this LIFE Magazine photo shoot was, but it must have been long remembered in the halls of NCS. Apparently a bunch of strip cartoonists were brought out to draw on the bathing suits of a bunch of comely young models. All that’s missing is a bunch of those cartoon sweat drops (“plewds”) surrounding the heads of these guys as they try to get a ballpoint pen to draw over the nylon-encased curves of the models’ “hites.”

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Behold, Ernie Bushmiller.

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Oh, Alfred Andriola! You didn’t!!

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We’re not sure who this scamp is.

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Nor the identities of these frumpy biddies.

Many thanks to Lance Smith for the link, who says “The whole set is filed under Ball Point Bathing Suits and is dated January 1, 1950 and is credited to Bernard Hoffman. Some of the other artists are Alfred Andriola (Kerry Drake), Bill Holman (Smokey Stover), Otto Soglow (The Little King) and maybe Harold Gray.”


  1. Mark, indeed, but the fellows at the Pop cult party were not wearing tweed suits!

    The fabric on those swimsuits would also seem to be about the same weight as that used on a “panty girdle” these days.

  2. Looking at the entire photo spread (*ahem*), it seems that each artist was paired with a model, using the white swimsuits as canvases. I suspect this was a charity event, which might explain the society ladies.

    Anyone have access to the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature? A search through 1949, 1950 volumes should list the correct citation. Microfilm or bound volumes would solve the mystery.

    Any NCS historians?

  3. The only thing close to this I’ve done is drawn on the T-shirts for the volunteers of cons, you know like the ones wizards has? So they would walk around asking for artwork drawn on to them. Many would still have the shirts on them other would not.

  4. Can’t say for sure, but the “frumpy biddie” (biddy?) on the extreme right in the last row appears to be Eleanor Roosevelt.

  5. Meant to say “last photo” in my previous post, not “last row.” Please take out your pens and make the appropriate corrections in India ink on your screens.

  6. “Where are you off to, honey?”

    “Oh, just some boring photo session with some of my cartoonist buddies. Don’t bother waiting up.”

  7. I bet something similar happened at the party for the New York Chronicle staff after they were bought by Charles Foster Kane.

    “there is a man, a certain man,…”

  8. Guess this is why old time cartoonists always longed to get their own newspaper strip. The idea of Ernie Bushmiller drawing upon a “comely model” somehow combines the ridiculous and the sublime.

    I suspect the modern-day equivalent of this would be those guys who paint swimsuits onto nude models.

  9. These guys are actually writing their phone numbers on the model’s suits. I’m sure those cartoonists were so irresistible and charming, that they were receiving phone calls within the hour. Uhhh… no. A bunch of social misfits all gathered together to ogle pretty women, that sounds familiar, actually they changed the name to San Diego Comic-Con. This reminds me of an episode of Madmen.

  10. The Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature did not suggest anything.
    Life Magazine microfilm includes an index at the beginning of each roll, but nothing suggesting the above photos.
    Scanning the film from January through February 13, 1950 found nothing. (Lots of cartoon advertisements…)
    It is possible that the Google date is generic… pictures could date from late 1950.
    Also possible that pictures were never used.
    Perhaps Mort Walker knows. Must investigate further. Hurmmm…

  11. BTW, it wasn’t unusual for cartoonists to be around women in bathing suits. From Soper’s Garry Trudeau:

    . . . they organized bathing suit contests in which their wives and girlfriends would participate. . .

  12. You would have to have a very fine pen point and a magnifying glass to draw on the thongy bathing suits of today.

    Except for the men’s suits. Sign me up.

    Strange. Back then men wore Speedo type suits, now they are draped with fabric.
    Bring back the Speedo.

  13. Syn — that translatio is pretty rough but I like this:

    >>>Below, even Alfred Andriola (Kerry Drake) sign a sort of a bathing suit for bacchettoni (but is about to begin the holy year!).

  14. There is a fascinating coincidence here, between this event/photoshoot on New Year’s Day and “The Beckett/Bushmiller Letters” – by A.S. Hamrah & Robert Sikoryak – Hermenaut Magazine #15, Summer 1999.

    In one of Ernie’s letters to Samuel Beckett, he extends an invitation to attend the annual NCS New Year’s Party in NYC.

    Ernie writes “… there nothing like NYC on New Year’s Eve…” (sic).

    Beckett graciously declines the invitation, stating he’s “… never been one for parties…”

    The Uncanny Old Gags never end.

  15. I am the owner of these swimsuits since 1950 when this event was held! Ot was a fashion show held by the swimsuit manufacturer in their showroom in manhattan to present the new line of swimsuits. This was a kitschy kind of bathing suit which was entitled “the autograph suit.” It could be drawn on or signed and would not erase in the water! Remember..no markers or sharpies in 1950!!!! Photos were in Kife Magazine, I believe.