- Posted by Johanna on March 5, 2009 at 7:04 am
- Category: Archie Comics
- PUBLISHER: Archie Comics; $9.95 US
Ever since the Monkees had a hit TV show, the trials and tribulations of teens who wanna be in a rock band have entertained us. (Just watch the Disney Channel for the latest incarnations.) The Archies Greatest Hits continues that theme by collecting a variety of stories about the best-known non-existent teen group ever. (The Archies only exist because of the Monkees, actually, because svengali Don Kirshner got tired of real-life people talking back to him and realized that cartoons wouldn’t do that.)
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you when the stories were published (although judging by the content and art styles, they range from the 1960s to today), nor can I tell you who wrote or drew them, because the Archie company didn’t see fit to include that information. The young audience who’ll be most entertained by these stories won’t care, anyway. They’ll still find it entertaining to see Archie and his friends face the challenges of a wannabe musician.
At times, the band includes Archie, Reggie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica; elsewhere, it’s just the three boys, in matching shirts with double rows of buttons. Story topics range from the mundane — how do you find a place to rehearse loud rock music without disturbing someone? should they change the band name? — to the heart-warming, emphasizing how music temporarily takes us away from our problems. The band might fight crime, figuring out who’s robbing the discotheque that hired them, or have wacky adventures trying to sneak into a hotel room to meet a producer. Several times, they can’t keep their equipment in good repair, with drums particularly vulnerable to accidents. And of course, every musician wants to figure out how to be discovered and become famous.
A particular favorite of mine is the story where Betty’s mom agrees to let them use her living room because they’re smart enough to sing her a song about how great she is. It’s so transparently adolescent, but the anonymous artist’s use of expression captures the characters’ feelings perfectly. The one where the Archies go to California to visit the Filmation Studios, makers of their cartoon, is oddly twisty in its levels of reality, especially the way people keep having accidents because they don’t think the Archies are real.
There is one extra, a foreword by Ron Dante, the singer and musician who was the voice of Archie on records, including the #1 hit “Sugar, Sugar”. His energy and enthusiasm makes him a wonderful ambassador for the characters and their music.