SALLY FORTHMedium: Newspaper comics
Published in: Overseas Weekly
First Appeared: 1971
Creator: Wallace Wood
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mostly male military audience, and that meant she could be a little sexier than her civilian counterparts. But it was the 1970s and those two flourished in the '40s, and that meant she could be sexier yet. In fact, one of the first things most readers noticed about the series was that its star was a very attractive woman; and another was that most of the time, she was naked.
Sally was created by cartoonist Wallace Wood (T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, early Mad magazine), who showed from the very early years of his career that he was eminently qualified to draw very attractive women. He littered his stories for EC Comics with them, probably more than anyone else working for the company. When it came to drawing very attractive women, Wood was right up there with Matt Baker (Phantom Lady), Frank Frazetta (Vampirella) and Dan DeCarlo (Josie).
Sally debuted in the August 23, 1971 issue of Overseas Weekly, which, as the name implies, was aimed at U.S. military men serving outside North America. She started as a raw (in more ways than one) recruit in a commando outfit run by Lt. Q.P. Dahl (no relation), who, bald as an egg and less than half Sally's height, could easily be mistaken for an infant if not for his obvious appreciation of Sally's assets. Other supporting characters included "Wild Bill" Yonder, who provided air transport, and Snork (no relation), an alien from Mars. Overseas Weekly also ran a couple of other Wood creations, Cannon (a tough guy hero impervious to, among other things, the charms of women) and Shattuck (a sexy western).
Little Annie Fanny had long since taken the shock value out of nudity in American comics, so it wasn't that big a surprise when Sally was introduced wearing a topless bikini. She had a uniform, but seldom spent more than an episode or two in it. In the beginning, she was characterized as mostly useless, obviously there just to be looked at — in fact, the first time she saw action was when she lured a troop of Commies to their death by bathing in a river. But that's a limited schtick, so she quickly developed into a competent adventurer — but never did get very good at keeping her clothes on.
Sally cavorted through Overseas Weekly for several years, while Wood made her available to the general public in various venues, many self-published. She appeared with Bill in a couple of lae '70s issues of Gang Bang, which featured frankly sexual stories with little in the way of plot. Wood died in 1981, ending any expectation of new adventures for Sally. Even her name was co-opted just a couple of months after Wood's death, when North America Syndicate launched a newspaper strip titled Sally Forth — this one, a domestic comedy.
But interest has remained high in the original Sally. In 1993, Bill Pearson, who for years shared an art studio with Wood, rearranged the strips into a series of regular comic books (omitting the Gang Bang material). They were published by Eros Comix, an imprint of Fantagraphics Books that specializes in erotica. In 1998, Pearson edited the entire run into a single 160-page volume, which is still in print from Fantagraphics.
Sally Forth's stories are not very moving or insightful, and the characters in them aren't very deep. But there's something about them that has a timeless appeal.