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Posted by: SAGG
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  • Tuxedo Mark: Thanks, but I don't buy the digests; I just read the new stories using Amazon's free preview.
    Today at 10:17:04 am
  • DeCarlo Rules: @Tuxedo Mark -- I don't know why they aren't listed on Amazon, but ComiXology (which IS Amazon) has them. [link]
    July 18, 2019, 02:20:47 am
  • DeCarlo Rules: @Tuxedo Mark - Well, they came out in comic shops, but I guess that doesn't help you. If you've got a regular bookstore (or supermarket) somewhere nearby, they should have the digest, anyway.
    July 18, 2019, 02:17:24 am
  • Tuxedo Mark: Are Blossoms 666 #5 and Archie and Me Digest #19 out or not? I don't see even print copies on Amazon.
    July 17, 2019, 10:55:02 am
  • Tuxedo Mark: My review of "Love Showdown": [link]
    July 12, 2019, 07:30:46 pm
  • ASS-P: Well, Starchie, guess thos lines on the side of your head have REALLY gone grey now:-( ~ Maybe you'll get sprung now:-)?
    July 12, 2019, 07:14:16 pm
  • DeCarlo Rules: The Last Straw! ... [link]
    July 12, 2019, 04:23:12 pm
  • DeCarlo Rules: And ICv2 interviews Dan Parent and Michael Uslan about the new miniseries HERE [link]
    July 12, 2019, 10:06:46 am
  • DeCarlo Rules: FIRST LOOK -- ARCHIE: THE MARRIED LIFE 10th Anniversary #1 (without dialogue, alas...)  [link]
    July 12, 2019, 09:37:34 am
  • DeCarlo Rules: Digital (ComiXology) is supposed to be same-day-&-date, but I wonder about that sometimes...
    July 12, 2019, 01:23:15 am
  • DeCarlo Rules: @Tuxedo Mark - ARCHIE AND ME #19 arrived in comic shops on July 10th (if you subscribe, your copy may be running late).  BLOSSOMS 666 #5 will be in comic shops on July 17th.
    July 12, 2019, 01:20:36 am
  • Tuxedo Mark: And Archie and Me #19?
    July 11, 2019, 03:58:22 pm
  • Tuxedo Mark: Has Blossoms 666 #5 been delayed? It was supposed to come out yesterday, but I can't find it on Amazon.
    July 11, 2019, 03:45:02 pm
  • Oldiesmann: Spam has been cleaned up again. It's nice that I can delete all of someone's posts and their account all at once...
    July 10, 2019, 12:50:07 am
  • rusty: So spammers are now posting sports stories instead of about kitchens? Interesting.
    July 09, 2019, 04:47:01 pm
  • Tuxedo Mark: My review of "Snob Hill" from Archie's Pals 'n' Gals, No. 161: [link]
    July 06, 2019, 10:35:22 pm
  • DeCarlo Rules: I've been re-reading THE MARRIED LIFE, and suddenly realized that Veronica had a happier life in the Betty-verse, and Betty had a happier life in the Veronica-verse. Archie's life was mostly miserable in either universe. Just like reality... or at least, reality-TV.
    July 05, 2019, 06:04:32 pm
  • Tuxedo Mark: I review the "Archie's Weird Mysteries" episode, "Attack of the 50-Foot Veronica": [link]
    July 01, 2019, 10:14:28 pm
  • Mr.Lodge: The covers for these digests by Parent and the Kennedys look like they were drawn by 5 year olds.....
    June 28, 2019, 05:15:49 am
  • Tuxedo Mark: My review of "Gimme Some Space!" from Betty and Veronica Double Digest, No. 274: [link]
    June 21, 2019, 09:28:19 pm

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Messages - DeCarlo Rules

I guess it's me then. In the 10-20 years where I largely wasn't paying that close attention (I'd only get a few things from older creators whose names I recognized), everything about the manga market changed, starting with abandoning the floppy format altogether in favor of straight-to-tankobon releases, and a huge shift in the overall content. Once they got out of the comic shops into the bookstores and online, they were free to cater to an entirely new audience (and one mostly taking its cues from anime fandom). When I stopped following it closely, most manga being published was shonen or seinen manga... I don't think that's the case any more, or maybe it just isn't recognizable to me as such. That being the case, most manga published today is not for people like me at all. Basically the teenage girl audience seems to have taken over at some point, although they may be ageing out now. In addition to that, art styles have changed radically in that same time. Sometimes I take a chance and get lucky, other times not. There's a few things I'm reading now which I never would have read in the 80s or 90s, had they existed then. I still say the Diamond solicitation copy is fairly useless if you're not already familiar with the creators or the manga (or anime) in question, though. I did miss at least a few good series during that time that I've subsequently identified. I never seem to see the ones I'm looking for offered as complete runs, though.
Quote from: ASS-P on June 18, 2019, 10:07:29 pm...Did the book include any of the non-Archie filler material that the first couple of issues of the eponymous title would have had? I suppose not.

Archie was the filler beginning in PEP 22. THE SHIELD was the star (and the stripes) of PEP. Clearly, this "Archie" was part of a diabolical foreign plot to get rid of The Shield... instigated by some obviously very patient spies.

Uh, I think the whole point here was to reprint ALL the Archie stories and ONLY the Archie stories, and leave out everything else from the comics that those stories appeared in.
Through the Decades / Re: hOW i WISH--
June 20, 2019, 10:25:04 am
Quote from: ASS-P on June 18, 2019, 10:12:25 pm...Maybe I should start a new line but........... ???
  Any chance, repeating myself, of bringing back the link to the daily newspaper strip of modern reprints (I assume that it is still running) ? Yes, I know it's been reprints for a long time now :buck2: :P ...........

Typing "Archie newspaper comic" into Google really does work!
And the "#1 with a bullet" top result is...
Regarding those search-and-download projects I mentioned, most of those are conducted over at the Comic Book Plus and Internet Archives websites. A recent one (not yet completed) involved compiling a list of science fiction stories (all public domain now) written by Otto Binder (one of the main writers on Captain Marvel and Family in the 40s/50s, and DC's Superman Family in the 50s/60s) published in the pulp magazines between 1932 and 1953, finding the relevant issues and pages, and labeling and filing them all in folders. I've gotten most of the longer novels and stories, as well as series stories, now I just need to to download about 3 dozen shorts of novella length or shorter.

Another (more recent project) was making a list of comic books featuring World War II aviator heroes (or 'mystery men') and going through various public domain comics online, sorting those features out into folders for the different series (which involves going through each comic online, viewing the pages one at a time, and downloading and labeling each story page into a particular folder).

So the list of folders I compiled was:

AIR FIGHTERS (Hillman, 21 issues) *ends in 1945, continues post-War as AIRBOY
- Airboy
- Bald Eagle
- Black Angel
- Flying Dutchman
- Iron Ace
- Sky Wolf
- The Heap

BIG SHOT Comics (Columbia Publ.) - Featuring SKYMAN (50+ issues); also in SKYMAN #1-4

CAPTAIN BATTLE, Jr. (Gleason/Comic House, 2 issues) - both issues also include THE CLAW in his own feature

CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT (Fawcett Comics, 40-something issues published with WWII-themed stories) - only the CM WWII stories

CONTACT Comics (Holyoke Publ., 11 issues)
- Black Venus
- Golden Eagle
- Tommy Tomahawk

MILITARY Comics (Quality Comics, 43 issues) *ends in 1945, replaced post-War by BLACKHAWK
- Blackhawk
- The Blue Tracer
- Miss America
- X of the Underground
- Choo-Choo and Cherry (girl humor strip; nothing to do with WWII or aviators, I just liked it)
(there were plenty of other features in those issues I just skipped)

SPY SMASHER (Fawcett Comics, 12 issues + in 63 issues of WHIZ Comics)

Air Fighters is the most complex (because I am sorting out 6 different features into their own individual folders, in every single issue). On the other hand, it's only 21 issues, while Captain Midnight and Spy Smasher in WHIZ have the greatest number of pages and issues, respectively. Later on I may compress some of these .jpg collections down to .cbr format for reading using the Comic Book Reader app. The rule of thumb I'm using if the feature was one that continued after 1945 is, it has to be a flashback to the War story, or I'm not saving it. I've gotten all of CAPTAIN BATTLE JR., CONTACT, MILITARY, and Spy Smasher from WHIZ sorted and saved so far, but still have about 12 issues of AIR FIGHTERS, 12 issues of SPY SMASHER, 40-something issues of CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT (only saving the wartime stories at this point) plus all of BIG SHOT (which will be the easiest anthology title since there is only a single feature in each issue that I'll be saving) and SKYMAN to go. So I guess it's about 1/3rd complete so far.
Hey, I forgot BLACK HAMMER! That's a good one, at least the main series. I've enjoyed most of the miniseries as well, with only BLACK HAMMER '45 (#1-4) turning out to be dud because of poor artwork. And since the story wasn't really even written by Jeff Lemire this time, it was less-than-riveting. It might still have gotten a passing grade with decent artwork. I mean, Matt Kindt did a good job of laying out the pages and telling the story in visual terms, but he's no draftsman (or craftsman). He needed a REAL artist to work over his pencil roughs. Somebody good at anatomy, facial expressions, and backgrounds. It just looks ugly and unfinished, maybe like something a talented 8th-grader would do. Dark Horse really dropped the ball on that one. Oh well, here's hoping it was just a fluke and not a sign that BH is about to start circling the drain.
That is a LOT of manga. On average, how many volumes of a brand-new tankobon series do you give a trial before deciding (assuming no prior commitment to the particular mangaka or characters from previous familiarity) to continue or not? I've always tried to force myself to decide within one volume or two. I just can't keep it on the list if I'm not particularly enthused from the get-go.

Was that MARS CHRONICLE Vol. 6 the final tankobon of that cycle or is there more to it? I peeked at the end to get an idea whether it seemed "to be continued..." and it does seem to end on kind of a lull in activity... whether that's just a pause before a new phase or that's the end of the "flashback" series I couldn't determine (I still haven't finished reading LAST ORDER). Haven't seen a new solicit for BAAMC since, though. I think I do remember reading somewhere it said that Mars Chronicle is the finale (even if it is a prequel) of the entire Alita series as a whole.

So, you mentioned APOSIMZ and that's another one where I'd gotten the first volume; but with one series and another I always seem to be 6 or more tankoban behind (not for a single series) in reading the manga I buy. So when I do have time, I look over the pile of what's been sitting there for a while, but I don't necessarily read them in the order I got them; I read them according to what I'm most interested in reading at the moment. With one thing and another, I just never got around to reading APOSIMZ. I bought it based on having read the FCBD floppy comic, which interested me enough to gamble on a single volume, and it seems like the kind of thing that's up my alley -- science fiction, but it's not straight SF, as it seems like there's a fantasy element mixed into the plot as well. But until I get around to reading the first volume, I'm not going to buy the second one just on faith.

Other times my timing just stinks. I didn't get on board and read JOJO'S BIZARRE ADVENTURE from the start, and now there's already dozens of volumes out there, and it's beginning to look more and more daunting (and with the continuing success of it, no end in sight, either). I do tend to prefer series that look as though they might go on for a finite number of volumes, progress through an arc (or several), and finally conclude, although I guess if I was fortunate enough to discover it at the very start of the series and kept up, it's not too much of a concern, unless the quality begins to wane. I would like to find a well-stocked online source for out-of-print manga books, though. Amazon z-shops is spotty (or extremely pricey) on older stuff (15+ years or so), and it kills you in shipping buying one tankobon here, one there.

BTOOOM! was another series that looked really good when I finally got a look at it, but again... that was when it was already 18 or 20 volumes down the road, so now the prospect of going back and getting them all is a little off-putting, because where am I going to find the time (assuming I can even find them all) while keeping up on all my other manga series? Like I said, I've already fallen behind. It looks like Battle Angel Alita is by far the longest (in toto) manga series I've gotten -- but as I mentioned, I haven't finished it yet, either. If indeed Mars Chronicle is now ended, I should eventually catch up on it. That one was very atypical for me because I started reading the Kodansha hardcover collection of the original series, and then trying to find all the omnibus volumes of Last Order, while Kodansha began releasing Mars Chronicle at the same time. No way was I going to start reading either of the two sequel series before I finished reading the complete hardcover run of the original series. But now I'm just starting on GANTZ, too, and from what I've heard that's quite long as well -- don't know the exact number of original volumes (30+?), but since I missed it in its first run, I'll just continue getting the Omnibuses (Omnibi?) which I think reprint 3 (or is it 4) of the original tankobon each. Enjoying it so far, but need to catch up to the current omni before diving into Gantz G.

That's nothing compared to One Piece's 90 volumes, but I wonder just how long any creator can maintain the interest level on something that extensive. A popular series may go for years, but doesn't there have to be some drop-off point in readership? How many manga readers are just deciding to pick up volume 42 and start reading from there? I can't imagine just starting to read a manga in the middle of a long, long run. The nature of storytelling in American comics is just so different, with lots of jumping-on points (and jumping-off points as well), but manga by nature seem to be more steady and consistent.

I guess if I had more time I'd keep up with the manga & anime news sites and try to catch every potentially interesting series when it was brand-new, but you can't always get a decently-long-enough preview to make a confident decision. I do find information-gathering to be much more difficult with manga than with American comics. Diamond's solicitations aren't a great help in sorting through each publisher's product, because all you're getting is a cover image and a paragraph description. That's usually fine for a floppy comic, but seems to fall far short of giving you the gist of a manga series. Titles aren't much help either. What the heck is BTOOOM supposed to be telling me? Something exploding, huh? Oh, great. The "exploding stuff" genre is one of my favorites. Pardon my sarcasm, just trying to make a point here. It's even worse when you have to use Japanese translation software to try to figure out what the words of the title mean (and usually the English translation isn't telling you much either).

There does seem to be a much more finite number of manga series I can follow while they're still ongoing, so I can't keep adding new ones willy-nilly even if they seem trial-worthy; I'd have to drop other things to make room for time to read them all. I've never found that to be much of a serious issue with American comics though. Maybe because a single floppy comic is usually so short, it seems easy to make snap decisions about what new to buy or what to drop, from month to month. With most manga, I only have sort of a vague idea of how often the new volumes are even being released.
Quote from: rusty on April 28, 2019, 11:50:21 pmI've been reading the Treasure Chest series that ran from 1946-1972 in 27 volumes.  It was available at Catholic schools and features a lot of historical and religious content, but also has two adventure serials in each issue that aren't bad.  I just finished vol.16 and plan to finish the rest over the next couple of weeks.

Wow, little did I realize that nearly all the 1946-1963 issues of Treasure Chest are available for browsing and downloading here:

That's something like 350-ish issues of TC. Discovering things like this is why I get backlogged on so much reading of the print books I've purchased. I've already got several different search-and-download projects in various stages of completion, so here's another to add to the list.
Part Two: the manga list

  Gantz Omnibus
  Gantz G
  Mob Psycho 100

  Batman & The Justice League (manga)

  -- anything else by Shigeru Mizuki

  Battle Angel Alita

  Barefoot Gen

  Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage
  Nurse Hitomi's Monster Infirmary
  Please Tell Me, Galko-Chan!
  Plus-Sized Elf
  Precarious Woman Executive: Miss Black General
  Saint Seiya: Santia Sho
  World's End Harem

  -- anything by Go Nagai
  -- anything by Reiji Matsumoto

  Infini-T Force
  Megaman: Mastermix
  Menage A 3
  Street Fighter

  Black Torch
  My Hero Academia: Vigilantes
-  I read one volume of the main MHA series that this spins off of, but didn't like it as much as the spinoff.
  One-Punch Man
  Platinum End
  20th Century Boys (Perfect Edition)
  Urusei Yatsura
  -- anything by Junji Ito

  Prison School (omnibus)
I haven't posted anything regarding what I'm reading in a while, because it seems like there's always a list of things every week which I still haven't gotten around to reading, and any time I spend posting/reviewing is time I'm not spending catching up. So I'll just do a list of things I've been getting and trying to keep up with. I tend not to get so far behind on the floppy comics, but collected editions (like manga paperbacks, or original graphic novels) do sometimes have a tendency to sit awhile before I can get to them.

Stuff I've been getting or reading on a regular basis:

  Archie (ongoing), since #699 - I just borrow this comic and will probably stop reading it after the "Archie & Sabrina" 5-part story arc. Interest is kind of marginal, and I don't care much for the art, it's just bland.
  Sabrina the Teenage Witch (5 issue miniseries) - I just borrow this comic, and am only reading it because it's available to me. Meh. I won't be buying the trade.
  Jughead's Time Police (5 issues miniseries) - Pretty good first issue. I'm going to try to review this one, as well as ARCHIE #705, in a little bit.
  Archie The Married Life: 10 Years Later - I will definitely be getting this miniseries as well as the TP collection. Anything by Dan Parent is automatically on the list.
  Betty and Veronica (one-shots) - These are reprints of (very) recent new 5-pagers from the digests.
  Archie & Friends (one-shots) - These are reprints of (very) recent new 5-pagers from the digests.
  Betty & Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest - I've gotten every issue since 2014; no plans to quit.
  B & V Friends Jumbo Comics Digest - I've gotten every issue since 2014; no plans to quit.
  Archie Modern Classics TPs - Presumably, this will continue on an annual basis, compiling all the new 5-page digest stories from the previous year.
  Archie's Big Book TPs - I've gotten them all (so far...)
  Archie Comics Presents... TPs - I got all the Vol. 1 collections, but will be skipping some of the Vol.2's of the weaker series like ARCHIE & ME, ARCHIE AT RIVERDALE HIGH, and (maybe) EVERYTHING'S ARCHIE... looking forward to the KATY KEENE collection, and more B&V SPECTACULAR.
  ... and that's about it for Archie Comics.


  Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir TPs

  The Goon

  Exciting Comics
  Heroes At Large (miniseries)

  Carson of Venus
  The Land That Time Forgot
  The Moon Maid

  King Kong miniseries
  Planet of the Apes miniseries (usually)
  Robocop miniseries (usually)

  Die Kitty Die (all minis & one-shots)

  Hellboy & the B.P.R.D. - I get this series in trade collections
  Lobster Johnson - I get the single floppy issues and the trade collections.
  (Dark Horse manga will be listed in a separate post later)

Current series I'm getting:
  Scooby-Doo Team-Up - My favorite DC title! This one I actually buy the singles AND the TPs.
  Looney Tunes - Not nearly as good as SDTU, but I like it enough to keep buying the floppies.

These titles I just borrow the floppies to read, and only get the trade collections later if I decide I really liked it:
  Green Lantern (2018) - since issue #1 - It's not bad. I wouldn't say it's one of Grant Morrison's better works, but holding my interest enough so far. Haven't decided whether or not I'll get the trade collections later yet.
  Shazam - I thought I'd give it a fair chance (since I'm a big fan of the original Marvel Family), but I think I may quit reading it soon. It's really not clicking for me.
  Doomsday Clock (12 issues) - I'd rather not comment until I see how it all winds up in issue #12.
  Freedom Fighters (12 issues) - It's okay... I don't think I'd still read it if I weren't just borrowing it, though.
  Female Furies (6 issues) - This one I like, and may even get the trade collection later.
  Wonder Twins (6 issues) - This one I like, and may even get the trade collection later.
  Dial H for HERO (6 issues) - This one I like, and may even get the trade collection later.
... and that's it for DC, currently. I do get various reprint collections of classic DC stories.

  The Carl Barks Library HCs (Fantagraphics)
  The Don Rosa Library HCs (Fantagraphics)
  Disney Masters HCs (Fantagraphics)
  Disney Classic Stories (Dark Horse) - TP originals, adapted like Classics Illustrated, but using the Disney characters.
  Silly Symphonies HCs (Library of American Comics/IDW) - Not sure if this series is completed or not.
  Walt Disney's Treasury of Classic Tales HCs (Library of American Comics/IDW)
  Uncle Scrooge (IDW) - trade paperback
  Mickey Mouse (IDW) - trade paperback
  Donald Duck (IDW) - trade paperback
  Mickey & Donald (IDW) - trade paperback

Other classic newspaper comic strip collections:
  Flash Gordon HCs (Titan Books) - I think these are pretty much ended, as there hasn't been a new one in a while.
  Mandrake the Magician HCs (Titan Books) - I think these are pretty much ended, as there hasn't been a new one in a while.
  The Phantom Dailies HCs (Hermes Press)
  The Phantom Sundays HCs (Hermes Press)
  Li'l Abner HCs (Library of American Comics/IDW)
  Dick Tracy HCs - I only got the 5 volumes covering 1964-1970, which were the ones I mainly wanted for the "Moon Era" Tracy. It's just too long a series.
  Superman Dailies HCs (Library of American Comics/IDW)
  Superman Sundays HCs (Library of American Comics/IDW)

  Various things, but I'm going to be picky, depending on who's writing/drawing it.
  Dejah Thoris
  John Carter Warlord of Mars
  Mars Attacks
  Project Superpowers - Hated the last one, to be honest.
  The Shadow
  Doc Savage
  The Avenger
  The Spider
  Green Hornet - I think I skipped the last one of these.
  Lone Ranger

  Dick Tracy - Got the first (Allred/Tomaso) miniseries, skipped the second (Michael Oeming).
  Star Trek: Year Five - A new classic Trek series. Haven't made up my mind about how I feel about it yet.
  Star Trek: The Next Generation - I usually trade-wait on this one.
  Planet of the Apes - I've gotten a few things by IDW, so I wonder if the license jumped from Boom to IDW. Seems like it.

  Criminal (and anything else by Ed Brubaker)
  Outer Darkness
  -- plus various (but not all) miniseries by Mark Millar

These I just borrow to read, and may get in trade later if I really liked them:
  The Unstoppable Wasp
  Spider-Man: Life Story (6 issue miniseries)
... and that's it for current Marvel Comics. I do buy TP or HC collections of classic Marvel reprints, though.

    Alter Ego
    Back Issue
    Comic Book Creator
    The Jack Kirby Collector
    & various trade paperback books & hardcovers that TM puts out

  Famous Monsters of Filmland (only some issues, depending on content)
  Monster Bash
  Scary Monsters / Monster Memories Yearbook
  THE CREEPS Magazine - Pretty much the same as the old Warren CREEPY or EERIE (which is to say, good).
  CARtoons Magazine - Automotive humor in comics form.

That's it for now, I'll cover the manga (the longest part of the list) later.
Here's yet another comic character named Archie... this one even pre-dating Archie Andrews' first appearance in PEP. Meet Archie Atkins, Desert Scout (Royal Australian Tank Corps). He first appeared in Quality Comics Group's MILITARY COMICS #1 (Aug. 1941). To be sure, this Archie was quickly forgotten and dropped from the line-up of features, as he was vastly overshadowed by the star of the comic, Blackhawk, and his paramilitary freelance air squadron, the Blackhawks (no more confusing than Archie Andrews and The Archies, I guess). This particular splash page was from issue #3, in case you're wondering.

Archie is (or was, at one time) not an uncommon name in England. England had its own long-running (1957-1983) Archie comic character in the form of ROBOT ARCHIE.

Additional background info and examples of the Robot Archie comic feature can be found here:
Quote from: rusty on April 28, 2019, 11:50:21 pmI've been reading the Treasure Chest series that ran from 1946-1972 in 27 volumes.  It was available at Catholic schools and features a lot of historical and religious content, but also has two adventure serials in each issue that aren't bad.  I just finished vol.16 and plan to finish the rest over the next couple of weeks.

I vaguely remember reading those growing up. Was there some sort of science fiction comic strip that ran in it fo a while? Or maybe I'm confabulating... recently I've been reading (online) old back issues of Boys' Life magazine. Well, not really reading it, per se... more like scouring through the run of issues from 1952 to the late 1990s. It had a comic strip (sometimes a single page, sometimes only half a page) called "Space Conquerors!" by Al Stenzl (actually ghosted for the most part by diverse hands) that ran in most issues between October 1952 and September 1972. I was able to save all of those pages and then read all 20 years worth of the strip. It was followed up on different occasions between the late 1970s and mid-1990s by some much shorter science fiction adaptations of stories by Robert Heinlein (Between Planets), James Blish (The Star Dwellers), John Christopher (the Tripods trilogy), and Janet & Isaac Asimov (Norby the Mixed-Up Robot). I seem to vaguely recall some adaptation (possibly of H. G. Wells' War of the Worlds) from Treasure Chest... this would have been somewhere in the mid-to-late 1960s issues.
What's next, Jughead the Hunger & Vampironica vs. Predator vs. Red Sonja & Vampirella vs. Harley & Ivy?

So they've covered crossovers with Dark Horse, DC, and Dynamite... what about IDW?

Or what the heck, an Archie crossover with SONIC or TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES... just to be super-ironic.
Are Trula Twyst (and boy am I surprised to see HER on a new cover) and Toni Topaz THAT GOOD at volleyball that they can challenge the 4-girl team of Betty, Veronica, Nancy, and Midge?  ;D  Although on further reflection, Veronica's just standing there (a little too close if she's not actually in the game), and Betty's not even paying attention, just talking to Archie. So maybe it's just Nancy and Midge versus Trula and Toni, after all.

Below par compared to what? I admit they're not much when compared to some of the longer stories from the 1995-2015 era of classic Archie. As the number of classic Archie titles dwindled due to cancellation, the overall quality of the stories in the remaining floppy titles (basically just ARCHIE and BETTY & VERONICA, for the last 7 years or so of that period) got very good. They were trying new things, and upping their game. On the other hand, there were tons of mediocre shorts (the standard 5-6 pagers) published during that period, and in the couple of decades preceding that as well. It's easy to forget the bad ones... they're forgettable by definition. I can't forget about those, because they continue to show up as digest reprints, even though they've reprinted the better ones more often (but they can only reprint the same good stories so many times). And I hate to speak ill of the dead, since he gave ACP so much great work in his many years with the company, but Stan Goldberg's work (and there was a LOT of it) started deteriorating badly after the turn of the century, becoming rushed and sloppy-looking -- it made me sad to see it looking so tedious and dull, robbed of its former liveliness and vitality.

As for covers of the digests, the only time they were more interesting (at least in the post-Dan DeCarlo era) was during a brief period when they were spotlighting new lead stories in the digests, and the covers actually reflected a new story in that issue. No Dan Parent covers on any digest this month, even though he's got interior artwork in both B&V digests. He must be too busy working on that new "Archie Marries" sequel. The Golliher and Galvan covers are merely average, but Jeff Shultz' two covers are as good as anything he's ever done. I've already weighed in with my thoughts on the Kennedy brothers' work on another thread recently, so I'll let it go. A mixed bag as far as digestcovers go, but when was it ever otherwise? I'm going to guess that the going rate for cover art on the digests just doesn't compare with the rate that can be gotten for a floppy comic cover, and that's why we're seeing far fewer Dan Parent covers on the digests in the last year or so. It's even possible that ACP cut the rate they were formerly paying for cover art on the digests, due to slipping sales, but that's purely speculation.

Classic Archie is on the wane, and will never make any sort of serious comeback. Not for the floppy comic marketplace, for which the kid audience makes up a fractional percentage, and the nostalgia audience another small fraction. It will continue to dwindle into a niche-market nostalgia product, similar to the Disney reprints (still popular enough in Europe, but not here) and EC reprints. The regular digests will be gone (except maybe for 1 or 2) probably within 5 years, 10 at most, anyway -- taking the last of the new classic Archie shorts with them. The Giant and 1000 Page format may go on a little longer, if it's feasible for them to skip the earlier publication of reprints in the Jumbo digests and just print them in the larger compilations. Digital could continue on for quite some time, without the limitations of break-even economics which print comics are bound to, and distribution is no longer a factor.

Kids today don't seem to want the cartoony stuff, unless a love for this stuff is actively inculcated in them from their parents being fans of the old stuff, so that leaves a consumer base of graying nostalgists.

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