Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Continuing our reproduction of a May 29, 1966 Sunday comics section (other examples found here.
I didn't grow up with the 'Archie' strip, so it's one that's always a pleasant surprise. I'm more familiar with the Archie comic books and the Archies cartoon show. The strip finds the familiar 'Archie' gang in a gag-a-day format that's had a phenomenal run from 1942 that continues today. The strip has usually been produced by writers and artists who've also worked on the Archie comic book line. The original, and longest-running, artist was Bob Montana, who set the gold standard for the look of the Archie characters. IDW, which produced the 'Terry & the Pirates' collections, has recently announced a plan to reprint these early strips, edited by our pal, Dean Mullaney.
The strip's remaining roster reads like a who's who of Archie legends - John Goldwater, Dan DeCarlo and Stan Goldberg. The strip has been written by Hamilton, Ohio resident Craig Boldman since 1992. It is currently drawn by Fernando Ruiz, although the Creators Syndicate website still has the bio for the recently retired Henry Scarpelli.
Archie has been in the news recently. Last year it was due to a controversial move by Archie Comics to create a line of new look comics, with more updated, realistic versions of their characters aimed at the tween audience. This past month it was due to the announcement that Archie is marrying Veronica. The story takes place in the future, however, and may or may not happen (also known as an "imaginary story", popularized by the Superman titles of the 1950s/60s). If your looking for a copy of Archie #600, in which Archie pops the question, go see my friend Kendall at Up Up and Away (he ordered too many).
I'm continually amazed by the longevity and success of Archie Comics. There's not much interest in Archie in the insular comics world, so his popularity and success comes from regular, everyday folks. His digest-sized exploits can still be found in grocery store checkout lanes across the country. What is the appeal? Is it Archie as everyman? Is it the eternal love triangle of Archie/Betty/Veronica? Or do people just find the name Jughead funny? Whatever it is, we're about 65 years in, and Archie's not even close to retirement.
The strip presented above is by Bob Montana, who at this point had been on the job for 24 years! Instead of Archie and his pals, this strip features Riverdale High's beleaguered principal, Mr. Weatherbee. I love that first panel. Oh, for the days when secretaries sat on the corners of desks!