- Posted by Johanna on November 12, 2011 at 7:53 pm
- Category: Archie Comics, Books and Prose
- CREDITS: edited by Craig Yoe
- PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing; $49.99 US
I can see why Craig Yoe has the reputation he does as a comic historian and designer. This is a beautiful, yet fun and easy to read, overview of all elements of Archie: the characters, the company and its founders, and some of the contributors over the years.
I was surprised and impressed by the rarities and previously unpublished material included in the book. There’s a fumetti-style “How Comic Magazine Characters Are Made” excerpt from the tabloid Close-Up (dedicated to pictures of women in their underwear, as feature in this story) that shows some of the MLJ creators at work in 1941. Some of Bob Montana’s illustrated diary pages are included, as are a sales brochure for the Archie newspaper strip, images from cereal box flexi-disc records, and other rare promotional items.
While there are plenty of photos and comics in the book, there are also articles on the founding of the company, Bob Montana’s early life and real-life character inspirations, and an interview with still-with-the-company editor Victor Gorelick. (52 years and counting!) Biographies are dedicated to key real-life figures, including John Goldwater, early editor Harry Shorten, and artists Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey, Samm Schwartz, Stan Goldberg, and Dan Parent.
All of the art is clearly captioned, with sources and credits given. (That should be obvious, not worthy of praise, but I’m amazed that some historical reads still don’t get that right.) Although readers of this book have likely already seen it, the first Archie story from Pep #22 is reprinted in full, as is Dan DeCarlo’s “Slave Girl” story from a 1967 Betty & Veronica, Bob Bolling’s favorite Little Archie story, and other short tales representing some of the other artists, often reproduced from the original art pages.
There’s even information on the Archie radio show, brief mentions of TV appearances and the music, and an odd, unpublished Lucey story with Archie’s cousin Andy as a spy. Although pricey, the book is a lovely reminder of how these characters have appeared over the years and their continuing appeal.