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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nov. 6, 1923 - Dec. 8, 2013

Janice Valleau (Winkleman) was born in Teaneck, NJ and had her first work published in Smash Comics at the age of 16. She went on to study at the Phoenix Art Institute (where Archie creator Bob Montana was also an alumnus). After graduation, Montana hired her for MLJ where she began inking Harry Sahle on Archie and Pep Comics stories, starting with issue #4, and #42 respectively.
She took the pen name 'Ginger' early on and signed her work that way.

(from Archie Comics #6, Jan./Feb. 1944)

By issue #7, she was doing the art herself for one of the earliest Veronica and Betty solo stories. It gave Harry Sahle a break from doing all of the art on both Archie books, it established the regular V & B solo stories that Irv Novick and Bill Woggon would make famous, and it established Janice as an artist that could handle a regular feature.

(from Archie Comics #7, March 1944)

She 'got' what it was all about as well!

(from Archie Comics #9, July 1944)

She's also famous here at Undercover Archie for THIS special panel in Archie history!

(from Archie Comics #11, Nov./Dec. 1944)

Once Bill Vigoda took over the art chores, it seems everyone left, and Janice was no exception. She went to work for the next 11 years at Quality Comics, where she worked on 'Her Highness'.
She learned a lot at MLJ and got even better at her craft!

She went to work for Busy Arnold at Quality, who gave his people a great deal of creative freedom. 
She's probably best known as the creator and artist of detective/fashion model Toni Gayle.
 She was a victim of the hysteria created by Frederick Wertham  and his book 'The Seduction of the Innocent'. The hearings that followed, and the self regulation of the 'Comics Code Authority' put thousands of writers, artists, inkers and creative people out of work for good.
One day she left work, and afraid, never went back.
In David Hajdu's exceptional book 'The Ten Cent Plague' she tells a story of how in the sixties she felt compelled to do something in art again, so she took a community college art class. On the first day of class she sketched a figure and the teacher held it up in front of the class, as an example of what not to do.
"he said it was terrible-he said it looked like a comic book," she recalled!

She took up painting and continued it throughout the rest of her life.
Her work now hangs in the homes of her children.
In addition to her daughter, Ellen of New York City, she is survived by another daughter, Dale Campbell of Orlando, Fla.; a son, Daniel Winkleman of Jacksonville Beach, Fla.; three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be private.

Memorial donations may be made to Community Hospice Foundation, 4266 Sunbeam Road, Jacksonville, FL 32257.


From Comic Book Resources:
According to the Grand Comics Database, one of her stories was reprinted as recently as last April, in Archie Double Digest #238.

Read all about the hysteria surrounding Wertham's 'Seduction of the Innocent', the formation of the Comics Code, and the thousands of creators who never worked in comics again, in David Hajdu's 'The Ten Cent Plague' (featuring an awesome charles Burns cover!)

Friday, December 20, 2013

ARCHIE COMICS #15-18 (on newsstands May 1945 - November 1945)

Archie #15 would be the last cover for Bill Vigoda for awhile (it's a good one too! I love the facial expressions of all the characters!), as Al Fagaly would take over both Archie Comics and Pep Comics covers as the primary artist. 

We'll have a nice look at Fagaly's cover run in a future post... in the meantime, here's Vigoda's last one for a while:

Issue #15 kicks off with Veronica needing Archie's help in deciding what to wear to the Masquerade party, so naturally that puts her in a number of different outfits for him to drool over.

This whole concept of 'outfits' on female characters would become a pretty big deal in comics very quickly. Young girls also read comic books and, as you'll see later on, they'd even have a voice in WHAT some of the female characters wore!

(from Archie Comics #15, July-Aug. 1945)

There will be no shortage of Betty laying around in her underwear on the phone during the 40's. Not so much since, but...

(from Archie Comics #16, Sept.-Oct. 1945)

Never let it be said, that the artist's in Archie were afraid to have him do whatever it took to get a laugh! 

 (from Archie Comics #17, Nov. - Dec. 1945)

Back in the 40's it must have been easy to be an editor at MLJ. You'd go to work and sit down with the writer/artist and say, "Ya know Bill (Vigoda), I was thinking... You should do a story this month where Betty and Veronica are swimming... and they get in an argument over... whatever... and then they start wrestling in their swim suits!"

See. That's how you make comics.

(from Archie Comics #17, Nov. - Dec. 1945)

One of the earliest uses of the 'voice throwing' story motif that we'd see many more times over the years....

(from Archie Comics #18, Jan. - Feb. 1946)

Ok, we know that Jughead has an insatiable appetite, but sheesh!

(from Archie Comics #18, Jan. - Feb. 1946)

Some explanations are better left unsaid!

 (from Archie Comics #18, Jan. - Feb. 1946)

Vigoda's last Pep cover for awhile:


Friday, December 13, 2013

BETTY and ME #85-86 
(July 1977 - August 1977)

The final part of our look back at the 'Betty Cooper, Betty Cooper' issues, focuses on the last two (#85-86), and while probably my least favorite issues, they DID feature one of the more provocative panels in the history of Archie Comics...
And these names! Oh man... the Idol of Howja Du?

Well that's putting it nicely...
(from Betty and Me #85)

Betty really got to let it all hang out in these issues...
(from Betty and Me #85)

Sing Lo? Long Ghon? Who comes up with these names?
I know it may be a sensitive issue for some people, but I'd actually be amused to see some stereotypes of American's in other cultures media. 
Seriously, hit back as hard as you can! I'd probably laugh my head off at it all day long...
(from Betty and Me #85)

Nicely added cultural trend...
(from Betty and Me #85)

The final issue features some weird Hollywood types and Veronica falling in love with a wax dummy... yeah, it was getting a bit thin... 

Archie fancied himself a Hollywood screen writer... Here he is going through the tough part of town... how often do you see these kind of guys in an Archie Comic?
(from Betty and Me #86)

So anyway, at a certain point, Betty gets captured and CHAINED TO A WALL!
Okay, so maybe it's not such a big deal, but hey, it IS an Archie Comic. 
Hey wait, did he say a 'Whip?'
(from Betty and Me #86)

And they just leave her there...
(from Betty and Me #86)

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Superheroes weren't the only one's selling Hostess products back in the 80's!

I'm not sure how much attention I ever paid these ads back in the day, but I find them somewhat amusing now. Except when they're kind of lame like this first one:

 Any Josie and the Pussycat story should feature Melody extensively, and having her fall and land on her bum not once, not twice, but THREE times is a bonus. Especially in a skirt!

 While many forms of art will eschew the practice of using their popularity to sell someone else's product, comics have always jumped in feet first, and many of these ads were a clever example of how to do it somewhat naturally. Yowsa indeed!

 'Banana Boogie' is an interesting phrase that could be applied to a number of different 'activities', but here it's used as the name of the story, referring to the dance the characters go to and having nothing to do with the actual product they're selling. Yep.

And here are a couple of more to enjoy!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

BETTY and ME #82-84 
(March 1977 - May 1977)

By the third issue, writer Frank Doyle and artist Stan Goldberg had the 70's soap opera motif down, and each cover was featuring the three story lines inside. Betty and Me #82 was maybe one of the more grim stories, as Archie gets into a serious car accident, Jughead goes to jail and Betty has someone wanting to kill her!

It's not often, or... well, hardly EVER, you see Archie Andrews get in a serious car accident! He's lucky he wasn't thrown from that jalopy! It may not run very well, but I guess the seat belts pass inspection!

(from Betty and Me #82)

Who'd want to hurt our dear, sweet, Betty?

(from Betty and Me #82)

Man, this story was so intense, I had to read one of the advertisements to bring me back to regular Archie world! What? They were only printing 22 titles at the time?

(from Betty and Me #82)

Poor Jughead seems to get the worst of it in these stories (and things haven't started off so well for him in Afterlife with Archie either!), and here he gets sent off into the desert on his own, while Archie is trapped in a harem of beauties and Veronica and Betty find their own genie!
It may sound worse for Jughead, but.... 

Truth is, Archie is taken 'against his will' to be a part of that harem, and for some strange reason, is dead set against it!

(from Betty and Me #83)

Veronica isn't to happy about it either!

(from Betty and Me #83)

So they head off to the ancient City of Gulphoil (get it?) to rescue Archie. Next thing you know, Jughead, who just went along to help, has a gun in his back. What? In an Archie comic?
Jughead's reaction was the same as mine!

(from Betty and Me #83)

Apparently, even more shocking to Jughead, is the word 'Mistress'!

(from Betty and Me #83)

So, it's up to Betty and Veronica! 
They find a magical lamp and unleash the genie from it. In a regular Archie comic, the outcome would've been different. In THIS Archie comic, it turns out it's a HORNY genie. No, seriously.

(from Betty and Me #83)

Slurp? Slaver? Drool?  WOW! How do they get out of this one?

(from Betty and Me #83)

In the next issue, Pop Tate and Veronica end up as Wind Up Toys (Hmmm...)? Dr. Jerkil chasing Archie and Betty?
Ah heck, Jughead gets shrunk in this one! Think how big food will be!

Taken out of context it sounds a bit peculiar...

(from Betty and Me #84)

They're dolls! They're life sized wind up dolls! And NO you can't BUY one! It's just a story!

(from Betty and Me #84)


(from Betty and Me #84)

It's a fun run of stories in the midst of a fun run of stories! I still suggest you get them all!
Next week: Part Three! The finale!

Friday, November 22, 2013

BETTY and ME #79-81 
(Oct 1986 - Feb 1977)

In October of 1986 with issue #79 of the long running Betty and Me comic, writer Frank Doyle and artist Stan Goldberg took an interesting turn with the story, riffing off of the TV melodrama 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman', and creating the 8 part 'Betty Cooper, Betty Cooper' storyline.

Some of the bizarre story lines, mixed with typical Archie humor, made for a good fit and it spiced the title up in a way, that Archie fans even talk about today! It started off a bit clumsy (vampire uncle, kidnappers, face splotches) but no less at full speed ahead.

(from Betty and Me #79)

By the second issue things start to get rolling as they get mostly through the Vampire Uncle storyline and Betty annoys her kidnappers enough that they escape HER. That's when the fun really begins...

Betty becomes possessed by the spirit of 'Felicity Goodbody!', an evil gypsy, and starts causing havoc for everyone! If this was a TV show, it'd be the type of episodes that a normal reserved Betty Cooper would love to play out!

Doyle and Goldberg go to town with, and take great pleasure in giving Betty's 'Dark Side' a chance to shine!

There are plenty of laugh worthy moments, that taken out of context are surprising...

(from Betty and Me #80)

(from Betty and Me #80)

So, Archie's in a coma, the 'Limping Man' is after Jughead, and Felicity Goodbody is going wild!
What's not to like?
It's no wonder they kept this going for almost a year! What Archie fan could resist it?

Frank Doyle's story is funny and right on target with it's homage to TV soaps of the day (especially the newer type of TV soaps of the late 70's, early 80's) and I not only wonder what made them go this route in the first place, but... why they didn't continue it?

Sure, at times, it's rather bizarre, most of the Archie titles didn't exactly vary all that much from book to book, and for a little while, Betty and Me really stood out. Maybe they figured they could always do these kinds of stories in Life with Archie.

(from Betty and Me #81)

Stan Goldberg's art is solid as usual, in it's Dan DeCarlo house style. I like Stan's work, he tells a solid story, understands body language and expression, and knows what funny is. He's a workhorse and I'm sure Archie Comics loves him especially for that.

(Betty gets a spanking from Betty and Me #81)

These books are still cheap, so if you can find them, pick them up!
And there's always:

Join me next Friday for Part 2 (issues #82-84) of my look back at 'Betty Cooper, Betty Cooper!'
It's what I consider the best stories of the run!

(from Betty and Me #81)