About Bettie Page: Influence on 'The Rocketeer'

In the early 1980s, comic book writer and illustrator, Dave Stevens, launched a comic book series devoted to the popular comic book styles of the 1930s and 1940s. Stevens’ illustrations incorporated original ideas with retro, art deco-inspired themes of the time as well as references to the 1950s. His main character, the Rocketeer, a stunt pilot who discovers a stolen rocket-pack that enables him to fly, uses his new found rocket device to fight crime as the Rocketeer. Stevens thought an animated version of the stunning Bettie Page would be a great addition to his comic creation and developed her as the girlfriend of the Rocketeer.

Many have said that Stevens’ animated portrayal of Bettie Page brought her back into the limelight of popular culture. Bettie Page, known for her underground “dark angel” pin-up girl image of the 1950s was considered by many to be ahead of her time. This could be in part why Stevens choose her for his comic book series. Many comic books of the early to mid 20th century usually leaned toward a progressive style or theme. It would only make sense to include Page’s memorable image from the 1950s and place in the late 1930s. Regardless, who wouldn’t want an animated version of the fun, irresistible Bettie Page?

Since the release of the comic book in 1982, the demand for Bettie Page has sky rocketed. It wasn’t long after the Rocketeer was published that fanzines in her honor were created. These magazines recounted tales of her life, particularly the camera club days. This started a craze in which women dyed their hair black and incorporated bangs in an attempt to emulate the pin-up icon.

In the early 1990s, Walt Disney released The Rocketeer film based on the comic book series. Since its release, the film has developed a small cult following. Unfortunately, Bettie Page’s image was overlooked in casting. The character of the Rocketeer’s girlfriend, played by Jennifer Connelly, was changed to that of a 1930s girl-next-door. The truth is, Bettie Page is the girl everyone wishes was next door.

Now that we have Stevens’ comic book portrayal of the late Bettie Page and other inspired artists’ to commemorate her, she is not only remembered as an exciting, rebellious, sex symbol from the 1950s but also as a fun, adventurous, animated comic book character. There’s no doubt that her legacy continues to thrive through the creative minds and spirits of others.