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Thursday, February 27, 2014

on newsstands December 1947

Big things were brewing for Archie Comics.
The radio program had jumped from the NBC Blue Network to Mutual of Omaha in 1944, but settled in with NBC Radio in 1945, where it would run for the next 8 years.

Bob Montana was handling the newspaper strip and it's success and visibility was helping the brand name as well.

Archie appeared bi-monthly in the 52 page Archie Comics, of which Bill Vigoda was doing all but 6 pages of the art; a 10 page story in Pep Comics every other month, and a 7-8 page story every other month in Laugh Comics. Which still gave him 30+ pages of art to do per month.

With the idea of expanding the line, they had to find artists that could draw in a style like what Bob Montana was using for the newspaper strip or how Vigoda was using for the comics.

(Here Archie accidentally orders an alcoholic Daiquiri, and Veronica’s Uncle BUYS it for him. Of course he doesn’t drink it! - from Archie Comics #29 - December 1947)

It had been thought for some time that the Betty and Veronica story in Archie Comics #29 was also a Bill Vigoda drawn story, but in looking it over and comparing, it looks like Ray Gill to me...
Nope! It's Red Holmdale! Thanks to the release of the Archie Archives Vol. 9, we now know for sure!

(from Archie Comics #29 - December 1947)

Red Holmdale worked in the comic book industry throughout the 40's, and is known for his early 'funny animal' stories. His work at Archie Comics was primarily on comic features like "Gloomy Gus' and 'Cubby the Bear'.

I guess they needed a fill in artist for an Archie story and they let Red have a shot at it!
Seems like he knew what he was doing.... he has the facial and expressions and body language down...

(from Archie Comics #29 December 1947)

And he included a girls locker room panel....

(from Archie Comics #29 December 1947)

That turned into a fight....

(from Archie Comics #29 December 1947)

That turned into... “...A Woman’s Place is in the Home!”??? LOL.
He should've did more!

(from Archie Comics #29 December 1947)

Here’s a flamboyant Katy Keene ad from the same issue by Bill Woggon. They thought enough of the character to let the ad break the boundary and overtake a small portion of the panel in the story.

Notice the ‘Pin-up Pose and Swim Suit by Mary Ann Wilgenhof, Kalamazoo, Michigan’.
Woggon or MLJ came up with the idea of letting fans design costumes for the Katy Keene character and featuring them in the stories and giving fans credit. They even had cut out paper dolls. It was a very big deal back then and brought them many female readers.

Betty and Veronica would occasionally follow with the gimmick, but it never really had the same impact it did in Katy Keene.

(from Archie Comics #29 December 1947)

(April 11, 1916 – October 15, 2004)

Though Irv Novick had a seemingly small part in the Archie titles, highlighting the Good Girl art aspects of Betty and Veronica solo stories for a short time; his place in comics is much larger.

He worked for MLJ (what would later become Archie Comics) from 1939-1946, primarily on their superhero titles.

Of note with MLJ, he created 'The Shield' with writer Harry Shorten, 
and drew the cover for the first issue of Pep Comics. 'The Shield' was the first patriotic themed superhero, preceding Captain America by about three months:

He also drew the cover for Pep Comics #22, which featured the first appearance of Archie in it!
Wish I had about 10 copies of this book....

Irv knew how to 'get with the times' as evidenced by this bondage/torture cover from Pep Comics #18 (my own personal beat up copy). I love this cover! 

Irv left MLJ and went into advertising for a bit, but in 1951 he went to work for DC Comics and began a long career when another MLJ alum, writer Robert Kanigher hired him.

Novick was one of the primary artists for Our Army at War for many years, providing quality art for the stories and some memorable covers.

Many remember him as being inked by Dick Giordano on the Batman books, to achieve that 'Neal Adams' look.

But even inking himself, Novick was a quality Batman artist:

His work on Batman led to him being the lead artist on Denny O'Neil's Joker solo series in 1975:

He also did some Wonder Woman covers:

Irv's eyesight began failing in the 90's and he retired, having spent 50 years working in the industry!
He passed away in October 2004.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"Eyes Right!"
from G.I. Joe #15 (September 1952)
Ziff Davis publications

Dan DeCarlo's first work for Archie Comics is credited as a 5 page story in Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #4 from September 1952. He did that while still fulfilling his art chores at Atlas (Marvel) Comics.

But that same month, one of his freelance pieces was also running in G.I. Joe #15. 
In the previous years'  run of G.I. Joe, Dan had done a military type comedy cartoon called the Yardbirds. But over the summer Matt Baker's Good Girl Military title called 'Canteen Kate' had proved to be popular enough to get a three whole issue run of it's own.

Thus was born DeCarlo's 'Wendy the WAF'. (I'm speculating as to if that influenced him, but it seems pretty obvious. If you get a chance, check out Matt Baker's work. The BEST Good Girl artist of the Golden Age!)

Presented below, having never been reprinted, and straight from my original copy of the comic is Dan DeCarlo's 5 page Wendy the WAF story "Eyes Right".


Tuesday, February 18, 2014


IDW has been doing a regular collection of these Archie artist 'Best Of' books, and the first and most popular of the series has been this Dan DeCarlo collection. They're a larger 11X9 sized Hardcover (they've since put out Softcover editions) with full glossy colored quality pages and crisp clear reproductions of the work.

Really well put together (IDW never shortchanges us on these kinds of collections - always top notch) and they have some great stories in them!

Dan DeCarlo first gained some success with Atlas (Marvel) Comics, where he'd worked for a decade with Stan Lee,  making Millie the Model a success. He also worked on My Friend Irma, and Sherry the Showgirl and a number of projects there that are still sought after by collectors today.

He also did some work for Men's Magazine's of the day, of which I will do a feature on that work later on down the line....

Dan started doing some freelance work for Archie Comics to make some extra money, but he still had a regular gig at Marvel Comics. Archie Comics was expanding with books for Betty and Veronica, Jughead, etc., and they needed artists to keep up.

They were doing somersaults over how good Dan's work was!

(from Betty and Veronica #38 - September 1958)

Archie Comics offered Dan a chance to draw in the style he wanted (and not have to copy Bob Montana) and pretty soon Dan was the main artist on Betty and Veronica where he worked for years.

Atlas (Marvel) was going through some turmoil at the time and lost out on Dan completely!

(from Betty and Veronica #63 - March 1961)

I'm not completely sure if Dan DeCarlo was the FIRST Archie artist to bring the gang into times with the fashion, I think Harry Lucey was probably the first, but DeCarlo DID bring them roaring into the sixties for sure.

And this collection features plenty of outfits from the day, that Dan would research (from magazine's) so that characters could look more contemporary. 

(from Betty and Veronica #69 - September 1961)

Not just fashion, but even home decor as well. 

(from Betty and Veronica #69 - September 1961)

For all seasons!

(from Betty and Veronica #106 - October 1964)

Of course, some things are still the same... gotta love Betty....

(from Betty and Veronica #83 - November 1962)

And sometimes her actions even paid off for her!

(from Betty and Veronica #86 - February 1963)

Though, I'm not always sure Archie was 100% on board with these ideas...

(from Betty and Veronica #86 - February 1963)

Of course, Dan's artwork featured many of the great things we expect from an Archie Comic, like physical comedy...

(from Betty and Veronica #106 - October 1964)

and more physical comedy...

(from Archie Giant Series #23 - September 1963)

And Veronica getting mad at Archie!

(from Betty and Veronica #112 - April 1965)

Sexual innuendo...

(from Betty and Veronica #117 - September 1965)

And more sexual innuendo....Watch those hands!

(from Betty and Veronica #130 - October 1966)

If you've never experienced the fun of Dan DeCarlo's work, this is a great place to start. The stories are short, fun, and entertaining. The books themselves are quality, and it's all Archie and the gang.
For those of us familiar with Dan DeCarlo, this book will make you a fan of his work...
(from Betty and Veronica #63 - March 1961)

The Hardcover is still out there used, but it usually runs $35 to $40... you can find the Softcover for less than $10 though! See below:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The idea of the comic book was originally a collection of already printed stories repackaged as a collection. Throughout the years of course, we've seen reprints, and we've seen repackaging of reprints (in subtle and also in sometimes underhanded ways).

In the early days of Archie, before anybody would think to keep track of such things, MLJ did a few story make-overs, that here in hindsight it's pretty easy to see.
But they didn't just reuse an idea... they straight out reused the story with some art and color touch ups and included it just like it was a new story. 
It wasn't.

Bob Montana had come back from the military but was busy getting the Archie Newspaper strip going. Archie was in both his own book and Pep Comics, and was getting ready to run in Laugh Comics as well. They hadn't yet, gotten Woggon or Novick to do the Betty and Veronica stories, so Bill Vigoda had his hands full.

The answer? Touch up an old story that ran from 4 years ago.
No one will remember! (I wonder if anyone at the time DID remember?)

Now YOU, with my help, may remember this story from Pep Comics #27 (May 1942), done by Bob Montana, the 5th or 6th Archie story ever done, about him accidentally getting nominated for class president.

If you missed it, you had a second chance to read a touched up version of it in Archie Comics #18 (Feb 1946) as it's represented almost word for word! Vigoda changed some faces and someone changed some dialogue, but... it's the same story, taken from Montana's art.
Minus credit for Montana.

Here's the second page of the story, original and redo:

In Jackpot #7 (Summer 1942), Bob Montana wrote and drew the first Archie Christmas story (I guess they didn't quite have their writing/publishing time frame down yet). 
Here once again, we see it reused in Archie Comics #19 (March 1946) and missing that little 'by Montana' box. 

You may remember this heart warming scene from the splash page of Jackpot #5 (Spring 1942) and the first appearance of Reggie Mantle, introducing himself to Archie. Touch up and color correction or a complete make over? Either way, Bob Montana didn't get any credit for the newer version that Bill Vigoda DID in Archie #21 (1946).

They could've done it a lot more than they did and probably gotten away with it, but for the most part, I see it as probably being as much of a deadline issue as anything.
Two of the stories they used were from Jackpot Comics which only lasted 9 issues (Becoming Jolly
Jingles in the Summer of 1943 and only lasting 7 more issues after that), so it made sense to maybe update them and include them for readers who missed it the first go round.

Anyway, here's the cover to Jolly Jingles #10, featuring the first appearance of Super Duck!
(Created by Archie cover artist Al Fagaly!

You can find all of these old stories in beautiful remastered color and crisp clean pages in any of these collections from Dark Horse Publishing! Buy them all!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ARCHIE 1964 Unaired Pilot

Here is the Unaired 1964 Pilot for the Live Action Archie TV Show.
It's actually pretty funny (in a Leave it to Beaver episode kinda way) and follows a standard type of Archie plot, though they got Jughead completely wrong.

Here's Veronica and Betty:

If you're old enough to remember TV programs from this era (which I watched as endless reruns throughout my childhood), it seems surprising that this didn't get picked up or even aired (that I know of) as it follows the standard type of TV comedy story (merged well with an Archie plot) from then.

Hope you enjoy it!

John Simpson as Archie Andrews
Cheryl Holdrige as Betty
Mikki Jamison as Veronica
Jerry Brite as Jughead
William Schallert (Patty Duke Show) as Mr. Andrews
Roland Winters as Mr. Weatherbee
Wayne Adams as Reggie
Mary Grace Canfield (Green Acres) as Miss Grundy