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Monday, October 21, 2013

ARCHIE COMICS #3-10 - The Harry Sahle Issues
On newsstands May 1943 to July 1944

Harry Sahle's short run on Archie Comics and the Archie stories he did in Pep Comics, probably don't get the credit they deserve in the history of the character. Sahle (and writer Ed Goggin on much of it) would expand and flesh out many of Montana's ideas and even hit upon a few of their own.

While creator Bob Montana was away in the military (though mostly still in the New York area), Sahle and Goggin worked to ease the fears of MLJ, who worried what would happen to their sudden hit, without it's original writer/artist.

They had nothing to fear, as it kept getting bigger!

Harry Sahle splash from Archie #4:

Just based upon my own observations of the way things occurred, it seems like MLJ wasn't completely happy with the way Sahle was rendering some females (as B & V were a necessary focus). It's possible the 29 year old artist wasn't as yet comfortable adding that sizzle, as some of his efforts to do it look a bit forced and rehashed. (from Archie Comics #5):

His strength was at creating double splash pages, and his 'portraits' of the characters were really well done.
(from Archie Comics #6):

(Jughead from Archie Comics #7):

(Veronica from Archie Comics #8):

Sahle splash page from Archie Comics #6

They started using Janice Valleau (signed as 'Ginger') as an inker, but even her time on the book would be short lived....

(from Archie Comics #6):

....though for a couple issues she would be doing the art for the 'Betty & Veronica' stories in each issue. 

(from Archie Comics #6):

(from Archie Comics #7):

But the comedy side of it, was handled well, and the Goggin and Sahle's stories had some memorable moments!

(from Archie Comics #6)

One of the more peculiar Archie covers during this time. 

(from Archie Comics #8):

There are of course, still those moments that make you wince...that I'm sure Archie Comics would prefer not to reflect on, but to their credit, the Dark Horse Archive series doesn't leave this stuff out. And whereas there could be debate on taking it out, ultimately it is what it is, and it's a part of the history of this series...

(from Archie Comics #8):

Archie's popularity continued to grow, regardless of who was doing it, and whatever anyone thinks of Sahle's time on the book, the run had it's share of 'Archie' moments.... 

(from Archie Comics #8):

Though I could've maybe gone without seeing this...
(from Archie Comics #8):

In the summer of 1944, MLJ put together their best issue of Archie yet. Within a year, this type of one panel cover gag would be common place in the comic for years to come...
(from Archie Comics #9)

The first story, an imaginary tale of Archie in the dinosaur days called 'Archie the Caveman', showed there was no limit to what could be done with the character.  This type of pre-historic setting would be revisited over the years, as would other doppleganger type of stories. The characters and personalities had been established, and it was easy to just plug them into any situation!

Sahle stepped up the sizzle in this issue. It almost seems like a last ditch effort to hold on to the book..

Janice Valleau would do another Veronica and Betty story, having seemingly taken over that part of each issue...

But it wasn't the case. In Archie #10, Bill Vigoda did a 5 page Veronica and Betty story, and then starting with Archie #11 (November 1944) and Pep Comics #51 (December 1944),  he would take over both books for essentially the next three years.

Sahle, and I swear this is true, would go from being the main Archie artist in both Pep and Archie, to doing 4 page Oscar the Dog stories for next couple of months. Hunh? Needless to say, he was soon on his way to Quality and helping establish the female teen character Candy for the next 12 years.

He would never draw Archie again....

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