‘Jane’: the Strip That Teased
Mark Bryant examines the history of the Second World War’s favorite cartoon pin-up.
Jane needs no introduction to those who served in the Allied forces in the Second World War. Originally created as a character in a Daily Mirror cartoon strip, she soon became far more than that, competing with the Varga Girls of Esquire magazine and even the real-life actress Betty Grable as the quintessential blonde pin-up. Based originally on the artist’s own wife, by the outbreak of war a more curvaceous professional model and a new scriptwriter had transformed Jane into a Forces’ sweetheart who playfully shed items of clothing in each episode of ‘the strip that teased’.
Jane’s creator, Norman Pett, was born in Birmingham on April 12th, 1891, the elder of two sons of a jeweller. After taking a correspondence course in drawing from Percy Bradshaw’s Press Art School in London he began to contribute cartoons to Punch, Passing Show and other publications, including children’s comics. He also taught art at Moseley Road Junior Art School in Birmingham, and was Life Master at the Birmingham Central School of Art but resigned at the beginning of the war to concentrate on cartoon work.