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  • DeCarlo Rules: JUNE Archie Comics solicitations are out! -- [link]
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Author Topic: Some reviews.  (Read 30046 times)

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Vegan Jughead

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #75 on: August 11, 2017, 02:02:14 PM »
ARCHIE'S BIG BOOK: MAGIC, MUSIC & MISCHIEF is a full-sized (same page size as a standard comic book), 304-page collection of some of the best stories (all older ones) from Sabrina, Josie and Little Archie. I get the impression that they're putting this out to try to build familiarity with Archie readers for these, their next three biggest character franchises, and you really couldn't ask for a better introductory volume.

MAGIC: Most of the Sabrina stories here were just recently reprinted in the SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH COMPLETE COLLECTION v1, which I reviewed above, but there they were printed in black & white at the smaller page size used for the Best of Archie Comics trade collection. Here they're full-sized and in color. The editor selected all Dan DeCarlo-illustrated stories (with one exception, a short drawn by Stan Goldberg) for this collection, including all of his key earliest ones from Archie's Madhouse. The rest are choice early stories from Archie's TV Laugh-Out, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and one from Sabrina's Christmas Magic.

It was when I was counting the pages that I noticed there are just about 80 pages of Sabrina stories here, and that the cover illustration of Sabrina (which is also used in a larger image for the title page of the Sabrina section) is the same one that appeared as the cover of the formerly-solicited, then cancelled, SABRINA 80-PAGE GIANT, so I think if that comic had actually been published these are exactly the same stories you would have seen reprinted in that 80-Page Giant. While there are a few more than 80 pages in both the Josie and Little Archie section, I noted (again) that the images used on both the cover of this collection and the title pages of those characters' sections were the same as the ones that appeared on the covers for the respective 80-PAGE GIANT comics solicited, then cancelled, for JOSIE and LITTLE ARCHIE, so I'm guessing that 80 pages out of each of those sections would have made up those Giant comics.

MUSIC: Well, not all music. Three of the longer stories that begin this section ("A Gym Dandy", "Footlight Follies", and "Sweater Girls") are non-musical/non-Pussycats stories reprinted in their entirety (they were book-length stories) from early issues of She's Josie. Issues #1-3, in fact. I couldn't have been more delighted. I consider the longer early stories of She's Josie to be the very best stories Archie Comic Publications have ever produced, and these three showcase the talent of Frank Doyle and Dan DeCarlo at the height of their artistic powers. If ACP is ever wondering how to produce a new comic book that will actually be good, then they should dissect and analyze the way these stories are written and structured, and try to adapt that to stories about modern teenagers taking place today. I'm not saying they could do it, but they should at least attempt it. Josie was an interesting creation, because it involved the three main female characters taken from a proposed newspaper strip which Dan DeCarlo tried, and failed, to interest newspaper syndicate editors in. The male characters didn't come from those prototype strips though. They came from the last thing that Frank Doyle and Dan DeCarlo had worked on together, which was "The NEW" Wilbur. If you look carefully at Albert and Alexander, they're really just Wilbur and his rival Alec from the aforementioned series, with slightly different hairstyles and more stylish (for 1963) clothes. Albert even originally had the same flattop/brushcut hairstyle as Wilbur's, except that Wilbur was blond, and tended to dress more like the 1950s Archie, with letter sweatervests, saddle shoes, and checkered pants. The main difference here between Alec (from Wilbur) and Alexander Cabot is that instead of just being upper-middle class like Reggie Mantle, Alexander Cabot is filthy rich like the Lodges, and just as spoiled by it as Veronica. Otherwise the early Alexander looks and acts almost identically with Wilbur's rival Alec. Then there is Sock (short for Socrates, by the way, in case you didn't know), the big, dumb, (but good-natured) jock athlete who's absolutely bananas for Pepper and would do anything for her. He's an evolution of Tiny, who played a similar role (inspired by Moose, of course) in Wilbur's stories. Then there's Pepper, who had a namesake in the earlier Wilbur stories, but was nothing like Josie's Pepper, personality-wise. Although she may have taken some personality bits from a character in Wilber named Dodo. I have been fascinated by how "The NEW Wilbur" fits into the picture of characters' evolution in Archie Comics ever since I began noticing all the similarities. It's not so obvious, when you look at the characters of Alexander, who evolved considerably further in later stories of Josie and the Pussycats, and even Albert and Pepper evolved a little differently towards the end -- before being dropped altogether to make way for Alan M. Mayberry and Valerie Brown (later Smith). Did I mention that all the Josie stories (including the Pussycats ones) reprinted in this collection are also illustrated by Dan DeCarlo? All except one, just like in the previous Sabrina section. There's one final short drawn by Stan Goldberg, reprinted from years later than the original run of J&tP.

MISCHIEF: I'm not going to lie to you. I didn't actually read this section yet. But they all look to be early LA stories written and drawn by Bob Bolling. Bolling is an interesting writer to me, because he has very specific tastes, and includes very distinctive elements of fantasy, mystery, adventure and the supernatural in his stories (that goes for most of them, if he's allowed the page length to develop those ideas, regardless if it's a regular Archie story, a Betty story, or a Little Archie story). The shorter Little Archie stories rarely have those elements in them, and those are the ones mainly reprinted in the digests. This section contains at least two longer (both look to be book-length) stories containing those elements, that I plan on reading later. They are "Little Archie on Mars" and "The Strange Case of the Mystery Map". These both seem to contain complex plots, and other interesting incidental characters. I couldn't tell you what it is about stories featuring mainly a cast of primary-school children that disinterest me, but it is what it is.


I was already going to get this but now I'm EXCITED to get it, thanks to you.  I agree with you that She's Josie is the best Archie Comics ever did!!  And I agree that they should try to do something like this now. 

 


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