Marty Links drew the panel BOBBY SOX in a specific and graceful way from 1944 to 1979. In 1951, the strip changed its name to EMMY LOU, since the bobby sox fashion had gone the way of the previous generation's fur coat, straw hat and ukulele.
Here are a few samples of BOBBY SOX (subtitled THE LIFE AND TIMES OF EMMY LOU) from the Popular Library paperback collection. It's copyright 1954 and 1955 by Marty Links. She dedicates it, "To my own future teenagers: Alex, Elizabeth, Victoria."
Above: Link's simple use of black spotting draws our eye to look at Alvin, who has committed the sin of omission to poor gullible Emmy Lou.
Here's Don Markstein on Marty Links (born Martha Arguello in 1917):
"By the way, if you happen to be confused by the the given name of the cartoonist, you're not alone. So, apparently, was The National Cartoonists' Society, of which she was one of the first female members. Correspondence from the Society was addressed to 'Mr. Marty Links' even after she'd given birth to her first child. She offered to send them her bust size."
The thing to watch for, over and over, is the specificity of the clothes, the locations and the people. Just look at the awning in the above panel cartoon. It helps frame the picture, it tells us where we are, and Ms. Links adds that unique fringe to it. This all adds to the value of this unique world.
All of the kids in BOBBY SOX are lanky and energetic. Again: black spotting draws us to the speaker in the cartoon.
Another one of the cliches is the gulf of understanding between child and parent.
I liked seeing all that pen noodling to make the Christmas tree. Emmy Lou's parents do look a bit like her, but with a doughy addition of a few pounds.
The graceful folds in the drapery, the small candle on the table, with its specific holder -- all of these delicate touches add to the authenticity of place.
Above: another example of Links' mastery of composition and perspective. As you can see in the blow up of the above cartoon, there's a thin line around the left side of the picket fence and a thick line around the other. A subtle touch to get a feeling of depth that adds to the perspective.
In the MERCHANT OF DENNIS book, Hank Ketcham shows us his behind the scenes reference drawings of the interiors of the Mitchell and Wilson homes. These are specific of what the Mitchell doors look like, the Wilson's living room chairs, the kitchen, etc. I can't help but think that Marty Links must have done the same thing for BOBBY SOX.
When I bought this paperback collection, I didn't know what to expect. Sure, the jokes have not aged well, but the art is the opposite of the time-worn gags. There's a lot of skilled, knowledgeable drawing to admire in Ms. Links' cartoons.
-- Edited from an original blog entry of July 25, 2008