Baker’s Log – Betsy the Bookwriter in “Paget’s Island”

Featuring pinup model and "James Girl," Mala Mastroberte

Betsy the Bookwriter

Here is the complete Betsy the Bookwriter episode from Jeff Austin and myself for Jim Main‘s Main Enterprises Presents issue number 10 (2013), featuring the lovely Mala Mastroberte. In this case, it was a special episode for the full color 10th issue. It was pretty unique. I did the script and pencils, Jeff was on inks, letters, and colors.

Betsy the Bookwriter

Page 2, and Betsy becomes true-to-life, thanks to the aid of pinup model and photographer Mala Mastroberte! This was an interesting one to work on. I did the pages in rough form, gave those scans to Mala, and she provided the photos. As you can see, she makes a perfect Betsy, and she already has the part if there’s ever a Betsy the Bookwriter movie! Unintentionally, Mala’s name somehow got removed from the credits, so her help had to be acknowledged in a later episode!

Betsy the Bookwriter

On page 3, we move into the fantasy sequence.

Betsy the Bookwriter
Page 4 is basically a one-page joke, as well as a blatant excuse to get Betsy into
a bikini. Mala did some fantastic work on this page, capturing perfectly Betsy’s
whimsical innocence. The yellow lettering can be tough to make out, admittedly.

Betsy the Bookwriter

Here’s page 5 with the charming Mala as a flesh-and-blood Betsy. Mala has a history
of “playing multiple characters” in her pinup photo shoots, so we took advantage of
that in creating our photo-comic section of the story.

Betsy the Bookwriter
Page 6. Betsy’s name was, of course, a play on the name of Bettie Page. That
her last name was also that of screen starlet Debra Paget was just perfect!

Betsy the Bookwriter

Page 7 has some of my weaker writing. On the other hand, it’s hard to make much of it out!

Betsy the Bookwriter
Alas, this is the last page for which the charming Mala Mastroberte plays the
daydreaming Betsy (and her antagonist), but it’s a grand finish! I think she
wears some of her best expressions on this page.

Betsy the Bookwriter

On the final page of “Paget’s Island” we return to our normal artwork. I look at the dreary anatomy here and I wish we could do the strip all over. (Granted, readers never complained, but that isn’t the point.) Jeff Austin’s inks remain dazzling, regardless of my weak pencil work. The final panel actually takes a somber mood, as Betsy reflects on how her story has highlighted the darker aspects of humanity. There was no grand scheme here, it was just a scene that came to me after I realized Betsy had become so annoyed in this episode that she openly contemplated cold-blooded murder. It’s exactly the sort of thing future intellectuals will point to as some conscious commentary on the human condition. To the extent that it is, it really isn’t!

About the author

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Rock is a pencil jockey by trade. He's done work for AC Comics, Main Enterprises, and Moonstone, among others. Some of the strips he's created include Dinosaur Girl (AC Comics, creator, writer, pencils), Crissy Carrots (Main, creator, writer, pencils), and Betsy the Bookwriter (Main, co-creator, writer, pencils). His specialty is cheesecake cartooning (what they call "good girl art" these days).

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