The term Good Girl Art describes the work of illustrators skilled at creating sexy female figure art; it is the art which is "good," not the girl. Popular culture historian Richard A. Lupoff defined it as:
A cover illustration depicting an attractive young woman, usually in skimpy or form-fitting clothing, and designed for erotic stimulation. The term does not apply to the morality of the "good girl", who is often a gun moll, tough cookie or wicked temptress.
The term was first coined in the early 1970s by veteran comic book dealer and The Comic Book Price Guide advisor David T. Alexander, formerly co-owner of the American Comic Book Company, who inserted it his company's sale lists to highlight specific panels and covers with sexy women in comic books from Fiction House and other publishers. Shortly after The Comic Book Price Guide was created by Robert Overstreet, the duo of David and his business partner Terry Stroud began to contribute historical, reference, and pricing information regarding this particular genre.
It was during this era that the terms Good Girl Art and Esoteric Comics became widely used by the collecting community. Use of the phrase has since expanded to indicate a style of artwork in which attractive female characters of comic books, cartoons and covers for digest magazines, paperbacks and pulp magazines are rendered in a lush manner and are shown in provocative (and sometimes very improbable) situations and locations, such as outer space. The artwork sometimes involves bondage or damsel-in-distress situations.
A strong influence on the movement was illustrator Rolf Armstrong (1889-1960), labeled the "Father of Good Girl Art" because of his creamy calendar art for Brown & Bigelow and iridescent illustrations for such magazines as American Weekly, College Humor, Life, Judge, Photoplay, Pictorial Review and Woman's Home Companion, along with his advertisements for Hires Root Beer, Palmolive, Pepsi, Oneida Silverware and other products.
During the peak period of comic book Good Girl Art, the 1940s to the 1950s, leading artists of the movement included Bill Ward (for his Torchy) and Matt Baker. Arguably the king of Good Girl Art, Baker was one of the few African Americans working as an artist during the Golden Age of Comics. Today, Baker's rendition of Phantom Lady is considered a collectors item, and much of his GGA is sought after.
Since 1990, AC Comics has published 19 issues of his Good Girl Art Quarterly (incorporating several issues of Good Girl Comics), featuring a mix of photos and new comics with reprints of vintage stories. In addition to Baker, Black, Frazetta, Ward and Wood, the artists in this series include Nina Albright, Chris Allen, Nick Alton, Dick Ayers, Frank Bolle, Gill Fox, Brad Gorby, Mark Heike, Chad Hunt, Jack Kamen, Ed Lane, Steve LeBlanc, Bob Lubbers, Billie Marimon, Mark Moore, Ralph Mayo, Pete Morisi, Rudy Palais, Nick Poliwko, Bob Powell, Richard Rome and Maurice Whitman.
Alan Moore criticized Good Girl Art in an essay he wrote about woman's portrayal in comics.