Friday, April 25, 2014
JULY 1963: THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE ARCHIE #28
I first attempted my JULY 1963 series in 2012, but, since I didn’t have the comics as I wrote about them, I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I dropped the series, but always knew I would return to it someday. I went back and read what I posted about today’s subject in May 2012 and liked it well enough to repeat it before getting into more expanded commentary. I wrote:
Fantastic Four Annual #1 came out in July 1963 and changed my life. It made me realize that writing and drawing comic books was a for-real job...and I wanted that job. I have worked at many other jobs in my six decades on Planet Earth, but, when anyone asks me what I do, I always tell them I’m a comic-book writer. To celebrate that awakening, I’m writing about other comic books that were shipped tonewsstands in that pivotal month.
The Adventures of Little Archie #28 [Fall 1963] is not a comic book I would’ve read back then. The only issue of Little Archie I owned as a kid had a dinosaur on the cover. My love of such prehistoric critters outweighed another strong emotion.
Comic-book stories about adults and teens when they were children creep me out. I didn’t care for Little Archie. I didn’t care for Superbaby. I shuddered at stories where the Legion of Super-Heroes or Lois Lane were turned into toddlers. Even Tiny Titans has been a tough sell to me and it’s hilarious.
It’s not directly related to this phobia of mine, but TV shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and Dance Moms disgust me. The idea of tarting little kids up with the full consent and participation of parents, teaching them to shake their little asses like strippers, and then putting them on TV for the delight of pedophiles...that’s as wrong as it gets. Every adult who appears or works on those shows should be arrested, convicted and jailed. But I digress.
The Adventures of Little Archie #28 was a 68-page comic book. The comics stories were divided between Bob Bolling and Dexter Taylor, both of whom wrote and drew their stories. The cover is by Bolling and, according to the Grand Comics Database, it’s the only time he drew a cover based on one of Taylor’s stories.
Most of the Little Archie adventures are just that: adventures of one kind or another. The kid goes after a car thief, befriends an alien frog-creature come to Earth to investigate the “inferior human race,” contends with a stranger attempting to steal a doll from Veronica and, with Betty, survives an auto accident because he and she were wearing seat belts. A few of the stories are of the more realistic “kids learning valuable lessons about life” variety. It sounds like an entertaining mix for those readers who weren’t as creeped out as I was.
Maybe I should face my phobia and write some kids comics. Little Punisher, anyone?
That was before. This is now...
The inside front cover has a full-page ad for the Pearl Splendor Christmas Card assortment. You can make $32.50 for selling 50 boxes and it costs nothing to try. This Cheerful Card Company seems to be a different company from the one advertising in DC Comics titles.
Bolling’s “Sneak, Squeak and Creek” (9 pages) is disturbing on two levels. Early in the story, Fred Andrews keeps berating the driving skills of his wife Mary. The man is a total dick in these scenes, completely unlike the character in most other appearance. Then, once we get to the Archie trying to catch a burglar stuff, I was stunned by Archie’s insane recklessness and the brutality of his encounter with the burglar. It’s the comics equivalent of the exploitative reality shows I mentioned above.
Next up is a “Li’l Jinx” single-page gag strip by Joe Edwards. It’s the ancient joke of a fortune-telling machine that gets everything wrong, including the user’s weight.
That’s followed by a subscription ad offering four giant issues of Little Archie for a buck plus one free coloring book.
“Little Archie and the Astral Amphibian” (10 pages) is that alien story and it’s also by Bolling. The frog-being has an insufferable superiority complex but ends up appreciating the sense of fun that human beings embrace and enjoy. I liked this one. So did others. According to the Grand Comics Database, Jaime Hernández named this as one of his favorite Bob Bolling stories. The GCD also points out the Lodge family butler is named “Jarvis” in this story. That was changed to the usual “Smithers” in reprints.
This was followed by a prose article child star Hayley Mills, one of two such articles in the issue. Near the back of the comic book, there’s an article on Elvis Presley.
Dexter Taylor’s “Little Archie Learns To Be Nice To Little Girls” (9 pages) has the Andrews lad taking after his father and not in a good way. He takes advantage of Betty by having her carry his books home from school. This inexplicably leads to Archie’s folks telling him how they met...with each telling a different tale. Archie takes two things away from this. His parents tell stories that might not be the truth and he should be nicer to Betty. The kid vows that he will only let her carry four of his books tomorrow.
In another Li’l Jinx one-page by Joe Edwards, she writes a letter to her friend Greg. She writes very slowly because...Greg doesn’t read very fast.
The anguish continues. In the two-page “In Good Taste,” Archie is shown to be lazy. In the single-page “Troubles of a Money Lender,” he makes foolish loans to his friends and only makes an attempt to collect from the only kid he can lick. At least the one-page “Laugh Along with Little Archie” - which consists of four one-panel gags - doesn’t feed my growing disrespect for the lad.
Note: The GCD says “Laugh Along with Little Archie” features “the last appearance of Ambrose (who had already been dropped from the main stories) in the original run of "Little Archie." He returned in the '80s.”
“Billy Wins with Bendix” is a one-page advertisement in comic-book form. Allegedly, a “Bendix automatic transmission and power brake” will make your bike go faster. If this were a Little Archie story, he’d be involved in illegal gambling on bike races.
In Taylor’s “A Perfect Afternoon” (6 pages), Archie’s neighbors are watching him while his parents are off on a trip. The neighbors are so worried about Archie causing accidents that they themselves are the cause of several. I don’t like this kid.
This story is followed by a page of half-page ads for “Task Force” (America’s Most Exciting War Game) and “Convoy Terror” (a Nuclear Naval Battle Game).
Taylor’s “The China Doll Mystery” (8 pages) is this issue’s cover story. Mr. Lodge buys a small statue for Veronica. One man tries to buy it. Another man tries to steal it. Grabbing the statue from the thief, Archie ends up throwing it at him. The crook’s head and the statue break. The latter has jewels in it. The Lodge cook offers to make whatever Archie wants. The kid asks for chop suey.
This is followed by another page of half-page ads: U.S. Royal bike tires and, in comic-strip form, Popsicles.
“Highway To Danger” (5 pages) is by Taylor. The GCD synopsis covers it well: Little Archie and Betty are riding in a truck with Betty's brother Chick. When the brakes get jammed and the truck crashes, they escape unharmed because they were wearing seat belts.
This story is sort of a public service message and not a bad one at that. I don’t remember seeing Chick in any modern stories, so I’m guessing his luck eventually ran out and the loss was too painful for Betty or her parents to ever mention him again.
This one is followed by the Evil article mentioned above and a page of half-page ads. The first ad offers readers a chance to get cash or premiums for selling Cloverine Brand Salve. I think Cloverine is Wolverine’s adorable little sister. The other ad is one we’ve seen elsewhere this month: 100 Toy Soldiers for $1.25.
Little Archie’s pal Jughead wraps up the issue with “Food Facts” (3 pages), again by Taylor. Admonished by Miss Grundy for eating in a classroom, Jughead insists he thinks about other things than food. But, when he mentions going to a baseball game or watching TV, he is actually thinking about eating a hot dog and the show he watches is a cooking show. It’s mildly amusing.
Next is a full-page ad for the Wallace Brown Christmas cards that we’ve seen advertised elsewhere.
The inside back cover offers a free lucky piece when you join the Archie Comic Book Club. To join the club, you have to subscribe to one of these titles: Archie, Pep, Laugh, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, Archie’s Joke Book, Life with Archie or Archie’s Mad House. Those who joined got ten issues for a dollar.
The back cover ad proclaims “GIVE ME JUST ONE EVENING AND I’LL TEACH YOU TO HYPNOTIZE EASILY!” For the full-refundable $1.98, you could get the complete 25-lesson GUIDE TO HYPNOTISM. It sounds like a long evening.
Today’s bloggy thing probably craps on the beloved childhood memories of those who loved The Adventures of Little Archie. However, while recognizing that there were, indeed, wonderful stories published in the title, I remain profoundly disturbed by the concept of turning horny teenagers into precocious children. That only gets worse in the way-too-many stories in which elementary schoolgirls Betty and Veronica battle for Archie’s affections. Shudder.
Coming next in my JULY 1963 series will be The Adventures of Mighty Mouse #160, which was published by Gold Key. However, I’ll be back tomorrow with something else.
I’ll be back tomorrow with some other stuff.
© 2014 Tony Isabella