Today is the birthday of comics' greatest dirty old man, Frank Thorne. Here's Frank, working hard at an editorial meeting with his publisher.
Of course, you can't talk about Frank Thorne without talking about Red Sonja. And you can't about either of them without talking about The Wizard & Red Sonja Show.
Starting around 1976, Frank and the bevy of beauties pictured above appeared at conventions, enacting a performance piece based on everybody's favourite She-Devil With A Sword. It was an instant smash, and has since become part of comics' folklore. Let's take a closer look at each of Frank's Sonja's, purely for historical purposes you understand.
This is Linda Behrle, an actress from New Jersey still working today, who at the time had appeared in various successful stage productions. She also later went on to play Ghita Of Alizarr on the covers of the various reprints of that series.
As the convention appearances became more popular, the play got more involved, and so attracted more actors. Here's Linda with David Mead as Mikal The Wanderer.
Also donning the chain-mail bikini was Angelique Trouvere. Angelique was a night club dancer, and probably the first Sonja, doing the routine at the New Jersey club she worked at in November '76. She'd already appeared on various Vampirella covers as the sexy space siren ( Go hunting through those back issues now! ) and portrayed Sonja as she if were Mae West. Frank, for the first time, played Thenef The Wizard. Later that year, he had the idea to stage a lookalike contest called SonjaCon, which eventually led to the convention appearances.
Dianne Dekelb was the next one to appear as The She-Devil, going the traditional costume route for SonjaCon, but eventually deciding to be faithful to the real origin, by appearing in the shows as Red Sonya of Rogatino, the russian privateer from Robert E. Howard's original story Shadow Of The Vulture.
And here's Wendy Snow, a Nordic fantasy artist from Boston, with her own version of the costume. Apparently, while appearing as 'Big Red' at the '77 Boston Globe Book Festival, several exhibitors complained about Wendy's lack of clothing. The management agreed, and she was banned from wearing it for the rest of the festival. Spoilsports.
Here's Angelique, Frank & Wendy at a convention. Now, I ask you, who could possibly find that offensive?
But the most well remembered Sonja has to be, of course, Elfquest's very own Wendy Pini, actually the winner of that first lookalike contest that started the whole thing rolling. Here's Frank & Wendy.
Later on, New York Comic Art Con organizer Phil Seuling was invited to appear on popular TV programme The Mike Douglas Show. He was also asked to bring along somebody dressed as a comic character, everybody at the network naturally assuming there'd be some guy dressed up as Superman or Batman. Well, Phil didn't bring Batman.
Frank & the girls' show lasted more than a few years, and appeared at many conventions. Here he is with the two Wendy's.
While here's the whole cast of one production. And yes, that is Rascally Roy Thomas living up to his name there in the middle.
Yeah, ok, all this feminine pulchritude is all well & good, but what about the damn comics?! Well, for those of us unlucky enough to have missed The Wizard & Red Sonja Show in all it's glory, Frank was good enough to immortalize the whole thing in the following comic strip, and here it is!