- Posted by Johanna on September 27, 2011 at 11:56 am
- Category: Archie Comics
- CREDITS: by Bob Montana
- PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing; $39.99 US
It’s been a great year for those who are interested in older Archie comics. It’s a bit strange that Archie Comics has turned to other publishers, such as Dark Horse (Archie Archives review coming soon!) and IDW, to put some of these books out, but the result is that companies with experience in making and selling reprints aimed at the historical collector are turning out attractive, readable volumes. Such as this one.
IDW’s Library of American Comics imprint does an excellent job with strip reprints, and this is no exception. It even won the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Archival Comic Strip Collection. You should know that the word “Daily” in that title is significant — the Sunday color comics are not included (hopefully, grist for a future volume) — so the book is completely black and white.
The style of Bob Montana, creator of the original look of the cast, is old-fashionedly distinctive. He also believes in action and movement on the page, with plenty of movement and slapstick gags. The visuals are important and drive the experience.
Reading these strips is an eye-opening experience. I read lots of Archie comics and have for four or five decades. The characters are established and kind of boring, sometimes, with a polished, on-model look. Here, they’re new and young. Archie is a gap-toothed goofball. Jughead frowns most of the time, unhappy with school and his buddy’s antics, with sleepy lids that make his eyes appear closed. The reproduction is excellent, to the extent of including a couple of typos.
The comic strip begins with the first appearance of Veronica in Riverdale. Betty, the girl-next-door who likes Archie, quickly appears, but in a twist from current stories, he only has eyes for the very upscale brunette. The girls are in dresses of the period, but they’re drawn incredibly clingy, with emphasis on breast and hips.
It’s very much of its time, with fads and ridiculous slang. (“Hoist your bobby socks an’ let’s crack knees!” means “I am enthuiastic to accept your invitation to dance.”) The many school gags feel fresh because the times are so different from what school is like now. My favorite storyline is when Archie gets to be principal for a day — the way he revamps classes is hilarious. The last tale in the book, with Archie coaching an all-girl football team, is pretty wacky, too.
While each strip has a joke, they continue one to another to build a story. The first, typically, has Archie accidentally asking both Veronica and Betty to the prom. After that, things get weirder. Archie, Jughead, and the girls get lost while picnicking and find a farmer who runs his business with a jukebox and pinball machine. To provide new premises, the gang goes to summer camp, on a ski trip, and to a dude ranch.
The book has a lot of well-cartooned weirdness with familiar characters who’ll seem new. Whether Archie’s trying out for the golf team (where we first meet nasty rival Reggie Mantle) or joining the football team or working as a movie usher, this is enjoyable comedy.