William Hess Ward (March 6, 1919 - November 17, 1998), known as Bill Ward, was an American cartoonist notable as a good girl artist and creator of the risqué comics character Torchy.


Early life and careerEdit

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Ward grew up in Ridgewood, New Jersey, where his father was an executive with the United Fruit Company.[1]

At age 17, Ward began his professional career by illustrating "beer jackets", a type of white denim jacket with text or design printed or drawn on the back; he charged one dollar a jacket and by his own count drew hundreds during that summer.[citation needed]

Back in Brooklyn, he went to Pratt Institute, where one classmate was future naturist painter Bob Kuhn.[citation needed]
Ward graduated in 1941, and through the university's placement bureau obtained a Manhattan art-agency job at $18 a week, sweeping floors, running errands and serving as an art assistant. He was fired after accidentally cutting in half a finished Ford automobile illustration with a matte knife.[citation needed]

Torchy #5 (July 1950). Cover art by Ward.

Still rooming at his college fraternity house, he received a call from Pratt regarding another job, assisting comic book artist Jack Binder. He joined Binder's small art studio, a "packager" that supplied outsourced comics pages to fledgling comic-book publishers, where Pete Riss was an assistant. The studio was relocating from The Bronx to Ridgewood, New Jersey at the time, to the upstairs loft of a barn; there, Binder drew layouts for Fawcett Comics stories, for which Riss penciled and inked figures and Ward drew the backgrounds. Features included "Mister Scarlet and Pinky", "Bulletman", "Ibis the Invincible", "Captain Battle", the "Black Owl", and the adapted pulp magazine features "Doc Savage" and "The Shadow". The studio grew to approximately 30 artists, with Ken Bald as art director.

Ward's first credited works are writing and drawing an episode each of the two-page humor feature "Private Ward" in Fawcett's Spy Smasher #2 (Winter 1941) and Bulletman #3 (January 14, 1942), published closely to each other. His first major job was an issue of Fawcett's Captain Marvel, after having worked on that C.C. Beck feature in Whiz Comics.[citation needed]

Shortly thereafter, Quality Comics editor George Brenner hired Ward to write and pencil the hit World War II aviator feature "Blackhawk"; Ward confirmably did Military Comics #30-31 (July–August 1944), with the next several issues generally but unconfirmably credited to Al Bryant.[2] He also drew some Blackhawk stories in Modern Comics and some issues of the Blackhawk title itself in 1946 and 1947, occasionally afterward, and then often in the early 1950s. His story "Karlovna Had a True Underworld" from Blackhawk #14 (Spring 1947) was reprinted in the book Comix: A History of Comic Books In America (Bonanza Books, 1971).[citation needed]

Drafted into the U.S. Army,[citation needed]

Ward was stationed at a naval base in Rhode Island, but he continued to draw, creating artwork for his past pal Wendell Crowley, who was at Fawcett Publications. The military wanted a comic strip to boost morale that would appear in the local Naval base newspaper, and Ward responded with Ack-Ack-Amy, an early version of his Torchy Todd character.[citation needed]
Ward's ingenue character was created for the base newspaper at Brooklyn's Fort Hamilton, where he was based. The comic strip was soon syndicated to other Army newspapers worldwide.[citation needed]


Torchy made her comic-book debut as star of a backup feature in Quality Comics' Doll Man #8 (Spring 1946), and continued in all but three issues through #28 (May 1950), as well as in Modern Comics #53-89 (September 1946 - September 1949). A solo series, Torchy, ran six issues (November 1949 - September 1950).

Several Torchy stories, including some Fort Hamilton strips, were reprinted in Innovation Comics' 100-page, squarebound comic book Bill Ward's Torchy, The Blonde Bombshell #1 (January 1992). Others have been reprinted in fy Pages #1 (1987); AC Comics anthology Good Girl Art Quarterly #1 (Summer 1990), #10 (Fall 1992), #11 (Winter 1993), and #14 (Winter 1994), and in AC's America's Greatest Comics #5 (circa 2003). Comic Images released a set of Torchy trading cards in 1994.[3]

Ward drew an original cover featuring Torchy for Robert M. Overstreet's annual book The Comic Book Price Guide (#8, 1978).

Later careerEdit

Pussycat-BillWard images

Ward panels from "The Adventures of Pussycat"

Ward's last confirmed comic-book work is at least one Blackhawk story in Blackhawk #63 (April 1953); another story in that issue is unconfirmed but generally credited to Ward. His last unconfirmed but generally accepted comic-book works appeared the same month: a Blackhawk story in Blackhawk #65 and a Captain Marvel Jr. tale in Fawcett Comics' The Marvel Family #84 (both June 1953).

Ward turned to magazine cartooning afterward, doing humorous spot illustrations, some featuring Torchy, for such publications as editor Abe Goodman's Humorama. Some of Ward's gag comics were collected in the Avon Books paperback Honeymoon Guide (#T-95, 1956; reprinted as #T282, 1958). Ward was also a regular artist for the satirical-humor magazine Cracked, sometimes signing his work "McCartney".[citation needed]

He did very occasional comic-book humor stories, such as the four-page "Play Pool" in Humor-Vision's satiric Pow Magazine #1 (August 1966), and, that same decade, episodes of "The Adventures of Pussycat", a risqué feature about a sexy secret agent, which ran throughout various men's adventure magazines published by Martin Goodman's Magazine Management Company. Ward dabbled in underground comics, drawing a pornographic "Stella Starlet" story in publisher John A. Mozzer's Weird Smut Comics #1 (1985) and a "Sugar Caine" story in issue #2 (1987); both were written by Dave Goode. Ward also illustrated erotic stories, written by himself, in such men's magazines as Juggs and Leg Show — an article a month for the former in his later years.[4] One feature in Juggs that ran for a year was "Quest for a Big Pair", featuring the sexual adventures of Harold Brown, who had sexual encounters with busty women.The series involved a young man with an 11 inch penis,having with similar to Candy Samples and Tina Small.It lasted for around a year or so,until another feature was created to showcase Bill Ward art and story material.[citation needed]

Ward also drew the comics feature "Debbie" in Club magazine.[citation needed]

In a rare turn doing a mainstream comics character, Ward drew the four-page part one of a Judge Dredd story, "The Mega-City 5000", in the weekly UK comic 2000 AD #40 (November 26, 1977), reprinted in Eagle Comics' Judge Dredd: The Early Cases #3 (April 1986); it was written by John Wagner under the pseudonym T.B. Grover.[citation needed]

Ward remained a freelance artist throughout his career. He married twice[citation needed]

and lived most of his life in Ridgewood, New Jersey.[citation needed]



  1. Kroll, Eric. "The Best Eye Candy Money Can Buy: The Life of Bill Ward, Good Girl Artist". Archived from the original on March 6, 2009. Retrieved 2011-01-14. .
  2. Ward states in his autobiography that he succeeded Reed Crandall, the preeminent "Blackhawk" artist, when Crandall was drafted, but Crandall first drew the feature in Military Comics #12-22, and was succeeded primarily by the team of penciler John Cassone and inker Alex Kotzky before Ward took over.
  3. Archive of Allender, Dave, ed. "Bill Ward: 50 Fabulous Years of Torchy Comic Images - 1994" (trading card checklist). Original page
  4. Kroll, [ p. 3. Link retrieved 2007-12-06.


External linksEdit

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