Jughead Double Digest #172

Jughead Double Digest #172

Jughead isn’t my favorite Archie character, but he’s become the one who is most entertaining to read about. He’s got a spark of creativity and even of selfishness that livens things up. Take, for instance, the lead story in this digest. Jughead spins a yarn about his great-grandfather’s Dillinger memorabilia in order to manipulate his friends into helping him out. He knows them so well that he can predict ahead of time their likely reactions. For someone thought to be a lazy glutton, he’s very observant and aware of human nature.

One of the most interesting types of Jughead’s stories, though, are the ones that play with reality itself. The second story here, written by the talented craftsman Craig Boldman, shows that by sending Archie and Jughead “Behind the Panels”. They wind up in the writer’s office, allowing for plenty of self-aware swipes and postmodern asides. For me, stories like this evoke the earlier reprints of “Jughead’s Dipsy Doodles”, where his art skills literally come to life.

Even the stories that play on Jughead’s never-ending appetite and avoidance of girls can be fun, as in the one about his customized video games, which turn his quirks into challenges. Jughead, no matter what, is an individual, following his own path in spite of social pressure, and his stories sometimes show more character insight than the usual boy/girl Archie tales.

Also fun is when Jughead demonstrates an unexpected talent. In this volume, it’s an astounding ability to limbo, which leads to a complicated scheme involving a date with a star and a hulu contest, and later, he’s a pinball wizard. Sometimes the tales are simple slapstick, as when Jughead can’t get a snow cone machine to work quite right, and some are fantasy, as when Hot Dog becomes a boy so he can enter the Chock’lit Shoppe. Nice cartooning on that one, too, by Doug Crane and Nate Butler, who capture effective motion regardless of whether their character is human or animal.

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