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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nov. 6, 1923 - Dec. 8, 2013

Janice Valleau (Winkleman) was born in Teaneck, NJ and had her first work published in Smash Comics at the age of 16. She went on to study at the Phoenix Art Institute (where Archie creator Bob Montana was also an alumnus). After graduation, Montana hired her for MLJ where she began inking Harry Sahle on Archie and Pep Comics stories, starting with issue #4, and #42 respectively.
She took the pen name 'Ginger' early on and signed her work that way.

(from Archie Comics #6, Jan./Feb. 1944)

By issue #7, she was doing the art herself for one of the earliest Veronica and Betty solo stories. It gave Harry Sahle a break from doing all of the art on both Archie books, it established the regular V & B solo stories that Irv Novick and Bill Woggon would make famous, and it established Janice as an artist that could handle a regular feature.

(from Archie Comics #7, March 1944)

She 'got' what it was all about as well!

(from Archie Comics #9, July 1944)

She's also famous here at Undercover Archie for THIS special panel in Archie history!

(from Archie Comics #11, Nov./Dec. 1944)

Once Bill Vigoda took over the art chores, it seems everyone left, and Janice was no exception. She went to work for the next 11 years at Quality Comics, where she worked on 'Her Highness'.
She learned a lot at MLJ and got even better at her craft!

She went to work for Busy Arnold at Quality, who gave his people a great deal of creative freedom. 
She's probably best known as the creator and artist of detective/fashion model Toni Gayle.
 She was a victim of the hysteria created by Frederick Wertham  and his book 'The Seduction of the Innocent'. The hearings that followed, and the self regulation of the 'Comics Code Authority' put thousands of writers, artists, inkers and creative people out of work for good.
One day she left work, and afraid, never went back.
In David Hajdu's exceptional book 'The Ten Cent Plague' she tells a story of how in the sixties she felt compelled to do something in art again, so she took a community college art class. On the first day of class she sketched a figure and the teacher held it up in front of the class, as an example of what not to do.
"he said it was terrible-he said it looked like a comic book," she recalled!

She took up painting and continued it throughout the rest of her life.
Her work now hangs in the homes of her children.
In addition to her daughter, Ellen of New York City, she is survived by another daughter, Dale Campbell of Orlando, Fla.; a son, Daniel Winkleman of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be private.

Memorial donations may be made to Community Hospice Foundation, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.


From Comic Book Resources:
According to the Grand Comics Database, one of her stories was reprinted as recently as last April, in Archie Double Digest #238.

Read all about the hysteria surrounding Wertham's 'Seduction of the Innocent', the formation of the Comics Code, and the thousands of creators who never worked in comics again, in David Hajdu's 'The Ten Cent Plague' (featuring an awesome charles Burns cover!)


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  2. What a great tribute! I'm fairly new to Archie history so I had never heard of Janice Valleau. I have seen some of the work she did, but didn't know who she was. I'm glad you clued us in!

    1. Thanks! She came in at an important time in the history of Archie, and ended up creating a career for herself until Wertham's book came along. It was nice to hear she got into painting later on, and it sounds like she lived a long, happy life.

  3. Another great from the Golden Age gone and I never knew she existed! Dang.