Wanda in a typical situation. Artist: Ron Embleton.


Original Medium: Prose fiction
Published in: Penthouse magazine
First Appeared: 1969
Creator: Frederic Mullally
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"Oh, Wicked Wanda!", a series that ran in Penthouse magazine during the 1970s, was, in its final form at least, most likely a response to Playboy's

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"Little Annie Fanny". But it certainly wasn't a duplicate of Harvey Kurtzman's series.

Tho both showed an abundance of their protagonists' skin, Annie was always pure and innocent — well, relatively pure, anyway. She just kept losing her clothing through no fault of her own. But Wanda was as kinky as the series title implied, not just thoroughly perverted but also fundamentally evil. For example, an early storyline involved her kidnapping famous people, using sci-fi means to render them motionless and unconscious, posing them in lascivious positions with others whom they'd be unlikely to associate with voluntarily, adding them to her Museum of Misfits, and eventually unfreezing them all at once so she could enjoy watching their response. Her depravity was so over-the-top that most readers either turned away immediately in disgust, or regarded it the same way a later generation would the violence in DC Comics' Lobo — as an object of laughter, not outrage.

Wanda first appeared in Penthouse's September, 1969 issue, as a continued story in prose form, by British writer Frederic Mullally. Each short chapter had a single large illustration by Brian Forbes, but the actual story was pure text. The initial episode introduced her as the 19-year-old daughter of depraved plutocrat Walter von Kreesus. Walter gave Wanda everything she could possibly have wanted, except one — considering her exceptional beauty, wealth and lust, there was no way he was going to trust a man anywhere near her. Not that he had to worry about that, because his late wife's habit of ordering Wanda out of bed with her in favor of the current lover had engendered in Wanda a lifelong hatred of men. At any rate, the young woman was virtually a prisoner in the luxurious Von Kreesus Schloss (German for "castle"), which overlooked Lake Geneva. Fortunately for her, she was able to maneuver Dad into succumbing to an overdose of her gorgeous young handmaiden, Candyfloss, who remained Wanda's favorite companion throughout the series. The old man was stuffed and mounted so he could "see" the repulsive goings-on in the post-Walter Schloss, while Wanda went off to conquer the world by sexually compromising the most important heads of state.

The serial ran its course in about a year, then Wanda disappeared. She didn't return until the September, 1973 issue, where she made her debut in comics form. Mullally continued to script her adventures, which were drawn by veteran comics artist Ron Embleton, already well known in England for the 1950s historic adventure series "Wulf the Briton", the 1960s science fiction epic "The Trigan Empire", and more. Wanda's appalling escapades continued in eight-page, fully-painted monthly installments, poking sometimes-vicious fun at politics, sexual mores, etc. for years. Several episodes came out in book form in 1975. There was some talk of a movie version but nothing came of it.

Toward the end of the '70s, some fans seem to think Mullally's political stands became a bit too strident to remain funny. Apparently, Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione also grew tired of Wanda, because the magazine dropped her with its December, 1980 issue. 1981 began with a new feature, "Sweet Chastity", also illustrated by Embleton, but without Mullally. Chastity was scripted by the one writer absolutely certain to hold Guccione's interest — Guccione himself.

Wanda hasn't been seen in the past couple of decades. But she's far from forgotten, by fans and foes alike. If Penthouse ever revives her, she'll have a ready-made audience as well as a ready-made chorus of detractors.


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Text ©2004 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Penthouse International.