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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: 
The ART of BETTY and VERONICA (2013) 
Edited by Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe

160 pages - $29.99 srp - Hardcover
B&W and Color material
IDW publishing



Craig Yoe has put out another great Archie book (to go along with many of his other comic related books, see: (http://yoebooks.com). Focusing on Betty and Veronica, you'd think would be a no-brainer, but here we are 70 years on and this is the first real book ABOUT the two Archie girls!

Full of original art, covers, stories, and an overview of the pair in each of the decades, it's a great book to have as a part of your Archie collection! And IDW publishing, so you know you have a quality put together book!

There are special surprises like this Bruce Timm sketch below:


Or how about the original art from a full Harry Lucey story? When do you get to see that? (from Laugh Comics #98, May 1959)


There is, of course, tons of Dan DeCarlo art in the book, as Yoe is a huge fan and, let's face it, he's probably the most popular Archie artist, but I also love this book for the Harry Lucey art that's been included! 
(from Archie Giant Series Magazine #171, Feb. 1970)


Also included is a full Betty and Veronica story by Irv Novick, showing the two fighting and competing with each other. Many of the B&V stories were like that back in the day, and if that isn't enough for you, I'll have plenty more of it here at Undercover Archie!

(from Archie #27, July-Aug 1947)

Very enjoyable collection, very much worth having.
Hopefully they'll continue bringing us more of these! 
And if they need any ideas...Now that we have a DeCarlo Jetta collection from Yoe, how about a George Frese/Harry Lucey Ginger collection!



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....


Friday, October 18, 2013

ARCHIE COMICS #2 - On newsstands February 1943

Archie Comics #2 would be the last we'd see of Bob Montana in Archie for a bit, as he was headed off for military service. (He did have some stories attributed to him appear over the next year in a half in some Lev Gleason comics, most likely these were inventory stories).

Stationed stateside, Montana started off as a filmstrip artist at the Signal Corps Photographic Center on Long Island, and then later at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. It would be two years before we'd see another Bob Montana Archie story.

Montana would finish things off with an Archie story in Pep #38 and Jackpot #9, but it was his part in Archie #2 that helped kick start the characters own title and push Archie into the mainstream!


No, it wasn't the inspiration for many a pre-code horror title, but rather Mr. Weatherbee and Veronica do Ivanhoe... sort of....

(from Archie Comics #2, Spring 1943)

And we get this Undercover Archie moment of Veronica in the bath... and stepping out of the bath...

(from Archie Comics #2, Spring 1943)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #1

If you're an Archie fan, you don't want to miss this new series 'Afterlife with Archie' (a word play on the Life with Archie series), featuring the art of the amazing Francesco Francavilla (Black Beetle). The first issue was really fun and creepy, and I'm looking forward to the next one!

I don't want to give to much away, so I'll just tell you what the blurb says: This is how the end of the world begins! Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Archie Meets Glee) and Eisner-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Batman) take Archie and the gang where they've never been before - to the grave and back! A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this brand-new, spine-tingling ongoing series - but be warned, kiddies, this one's not for the faint of heart! 


It all started with a variant that Francavilla did for Life With Archie #23. Writer Roberto Aquirre Sacasa liked the idea and pitched it to Archie Comics. Having read that first issue, this might turn out to be a big deal... Just sayin'.... If you haven't gotten a copy yet, well, what are you waitin' for!



We also get an excellent variant cover for the first issue, and as much as I don't pay all that much attention to the variant cover craze, I have to admit they're doing some good one's over there at Archie Comics.


Undercover Archie alert! Here's a poster of the variant I got from Andrew Pepoy at the Baltimore Comic Con. No butts about it, I like the original better!

And here's a poster of another variant Pepoy has done.... gotta love the EC Comics, Wally Wood inspired work of this!


And here's the actual comic:



HARRY SAHLE - The PEP COMICS Covers!

Harry Sahle had a nice run of Archie covers from #45-50, though the one's we'll feature here are the last few he did, featuring Archie, Veronica, and the Shield (and sometimes Betty)!


You could have the goofiest idea in the world, but when all else fails, put Veronica and Betty on the cover in a bikini. 







Monday, October 7, 2013

PEP COMICS #43 - #50 - On newsstands August 1943

As much as Pep #42 seemed to be spiced up, overall the remainder of Harry Sahle's run on the book in Pep Comics would be pretty tame. Either MLJ wanted more of the focus on Archie's new self-titled Archie Comics, or the mainstream popularity of Archie would steer them toward a more family friendly type of comics. There'd be growing pains based upon which artist was drawing it, of course, but the cheesecake would be ramped up more once Sahle left the book. 

An ad for the Radio Show from Pep #43:



For whatever reason, many of Sahle's stories in Pep Comics, didn't even feature Betty or Veronica, or if they did appear, it was a brief cameo at the beginning or the end of the story. Some of those cameo's though would occasionally feature a kiss (but usually on the cheek).

From Pep Comics #43:



From Pep Comics #44:



Though sometimes..... (from Pep Comics #46):



Sahle did have one of the funnier moments in the run (that would be repeated in one form or another for decades), when Archie gets a camera and decides to be a photographer. It leads to this exchange...'Snapping the Snapper!' (from Pep Comics #48):


Which led to:



Unfortunately, he also gave us Mr. Weatherbee in his boxer shorts! (From Pep Comics #49):



Lastly, here are a couple of two pages splashes he did from Pep Comics #44 and #45. Why he got away from doing these is anyone's guess, he really went all out on them.