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Two sides to every story: Weird continuity between 2 Archie stories

Started by DeCarlo Rules, May 30, 2016, 01:40:34 am

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DeCarlo Rules

Here's an example of something I've never seen in any Archie stories before. I know what the stories are and where they were reprinted, but what I'm hoping is that someone can help identify where and when the stories originally appeared.

I happened to be reading ARCHIE GIANT COMICS COLLECTION, one of those 480 page digests that collects pages previously published in digests that appeared only a month or two earlier (for those that didn't know). ARCHIE GIANT COMICS COLLECTION was released June 10, 2015, and reprinted the two stories in question -- Veronica in "Prom Promoter" (previously reprinted in B&V FRIENDS DD #243, released May 13, 2015) and Archie in "Prom Problem" (previously reprinted in ARCHIE'S FUNHOUSE JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #15, released May 27, 2015). Undoubtedly I'd read both stories when they appeared in the earlier digest reprintings, but I never noticed the weird continuity between them because they were each reprinted in a different digest. In ARCHIE GIANT COMICS COLLECTION, they appear separated by a mere 26 pages.

"Prom Promoter" is a 6 page story starring Veronica, credited to George Gladir (writer) and Stan Goldberg (penciller). It tells Veronica's story of how she has to come up with a solution to allow her to leave with Mr. Lodge on a business trip to Patagonia, on a flight departing the airport at midnight on Friday -- the same night as Spring Prom Night. Veronica's proposed solution to Mr. Lodge is to have the private Lodge helicopter land on the RHS baseball field at 11:30pm and whisk her directly from the prom to the airport, while the band hired for the prom - Gilly and the Gig Pigs - in the bleachers, gives her a musical sendoff. In this story, Archie still hasn't ASKED her to the prom, but she's confident that he will. She tries to catch him at Pop's "having his usual pre-practice sodas" but misses him, so she goes to watch him at baseball practice, hoping he'll ask her for sure when he notices her in the bleachers after practice. Unfortunately for Ronnie, Betty is also there, and when Archie gets beaned by a fly ball and is lying at third base dazed and confused, she runs out to help him and while he's lying stunned and groggy he asks her to the prom. Out of luck, Veronica calls on Reggie as her back-up plan for a prom date, but he's just been beaten up by Moose for trying to kiss Midge (which happened in the same bleachers at baseball practice, but Veronica missed it because she stormed off after Betty announced to her that Archie had asked her to the prom). Fast-forward to Friday night's prom, and Reggie's there in a wheelchair with a nurse, and Veronica's dancing with Archie, who explains that Betty suddenly got the flu and had to miss the prom. Cut to time for Veronica's grand exit to the airport. She goes to the baseball field but the band isn't there to send her off (except for Gilly himself, with a tuba). Svenson explains to her that the rest of the band went to serenade poor sick Betty, and that all the prom-goers decided to go to "Tijuana Marvin's" to celebrate. As the Lodge helicopter flies away with Veronica, she asks the pilot to fly over Betty's address -- "You can't miss it, there's a band there", where she drops a card to Betty on which she's written "Dear Betty -- Hope you feel better! Get well soon! Without you I'm losing my competitive edge! Ron!"

Nothing particularly unusual or notable about that story by itself, but here's where it gets interesting. In the other story I mentioned, "Prom Problem", a 6 page story credited to Bob Bolling (writer) and Stan Goldberg (penciller), Archie can't sleep because he's being tormented by his personal devil and angel over whom to ask to Spring Prom Night. He can't decide, and until then he's avoiding both Betty and Veronica. After Archie ducks both B&V at school, Veronica goes to Pop's trying to catch him -- "He ALWAYS comes here for his usual two sodas before (baseball) practice!" Pop mentions that Jughead was just in and ordered two sodas, and as he's looking out the window, Veronica turns around to look and sees Jughead pushing a baby carriage past on the sidewalk with Archie wearing a bonnet in it... Pop says "Unusual 'tho, to give a baby that much to drink!" She runs out, trying to chase them in her spike heels, but can't catch them. She finally goes to baseball practice to wait for him in the bleachers near third base, but Betty's already there, and just as Archie gets beaned with a baseball at third base, Betty runs out to help, and while in his dazed and confused condition, Archie's personal angel whispers in his ear to ask Betty to the prom, which he does. Archie's personal devil mutters "ARRGH! You win this round!" Later at home, Archie's mother hands him the phone -- "It's Betty!" She can't go to the prom because she's got the flu. Later, at the prom, Archie's talking to Chuck about the whole crowd going to "Tijuana Marvin's" after the prom, but first Archie makes an arrangement for the band (guess who?) "Gilly and the Gig Pigs" to show up at Betty's house to serenade her as a consolation for missing the prom.

Now, each of those is a perfectly serviceable story on its own, but clearly there are too many specific points in common for this synchronicity to be a coincidence, specifically: Veronica trying to catch Archie at Pop's before practice, Archie getting beaned by a baseball at practice, and thereby asking Betty to the prom while in a dazed state, Betty getting the flu and missing the prom, the kids all going to Tijuana Marvin's after the prom, while Gilly and the Gig Pigs go to Betty's house and serenade her to make her feel better.

Neither is one story a re-write of the other one (common in Archie Comics, I know), because they both tell significantly different stories, that can't really be deemed as "a variation" on the other one's plot, yet just as clearly they are two stories of the same chain of events, told from different perspectives. I'm almost inclined to think that the credits given here are wrong, and that both stories were written by the same writer.

Does anyone remember where the stories (either or both) originally appeared? (Comics.org was no help, unfortunately.) I wonder if they had originally appeared in the same comic, or came out in the same month, or if the connection between them was ever mentioned in Victor Gorelick's "Editor's Notes" text feature that used to appear regularly for years in the 1990s.


Prom Problem is from Veronica #65 (July 1997) ... I would guess Prom Promoter is from Betty or Archie of the same month ... ?

DeCarlo Rules

Quote from: invisifan on May 30, 2016, 02:02:33 am
Prom Problem is from Veronica #65 (July 1997) ... I would guess Prom Promoter is from Betty or Archie of the same month ... ?

Well, VERONICA #65 has A story titled "Prom Problem", but it's not the same story. That one is about Veronica inviting Dilton to take her to the prom, and is by Barbara Slate (writer) and Jeff Shultz (penciller). (I'd love to read it, if anyone has scans... hint, hint.  ;) )

There are many Archie Comics stories that use the same titles, so it's always a good idea to check to see whether the one you're trying to reference has the same number of pages and the same writer and artist credited (IF that information is available... artists can usually be identified reliably by eye for the major Archie Comics artists, but it depends on how old the story is). Sometimes one printing is credited, while another isn't (if they're not cross-referenced at GCD), and at other times different credits might conflict, even if the plot synopsis would tend to lead you to believe they are in fact the same story. You can't always depend on the "feature character" listed in GCD, as that's sometimes changed in reprinting by replacing the character logo on the story.

But in this case, "Prom Promoter" is clearly (even apart from considering the logo on the story) the Veronica story, while "Prom Problem" is the Archie story. Even if we can't depend on the logo not being replaced, there's no disputing the central character in each story. Betty is an incidental character in both stories.

Thanks for trying, anyway!  :)

EDIT/PS - The fact that Stan Goldberg pencilled the Veronica story "Prom Promoter" leads me to believe that it didn't appear in VERONICA, but more likely either BETTY AND VERONICA, BETTY AND VERONICA SPECTACULAR, or one of the anthology titles like PEP, LAUGH, ARCHIE'S PALS 'N' GALS, or ARCHIE & FRIENDS, since it would be more likely that a story from VERONICA was pencilled by either Dan DeCarlo (Sr. or Jr.) or Dan Parent, who were together responsible for the vast majority of Veronica stories in her own title. Not saying it's impossible that it appeared in that title, but just a likely clue to go on. Both stories were inked by Henry Scarpelli, by the way, but that wouldn't seem to offer any real clues, other than it seems likely that both stories were created at the same time, and -- again, it only reinforces my suspicion that one of those writers is mis-credited, and that both stories are actually the work of either George Gladir or of Bob Bolling (my bet would be on Gladir). That's just a guess, and I could be wrong about that -- "Prom Problem" has the appearance of fantasy characters (Archie's personal angel and devil) which IS an indicator of a Bolling-written story, but then again, the personal angel and devil is a trope used in SO many Archie stories that it hardly represents any evidence that's "highly probable", nevermind close to being "conclusive". I'm sure I could find Gladir stories where he used the trope if I looked hard enough. I'm basing that guess that both stories are written by the same man on a calculated unlikelihood that Gladir and Bolling would have been in direct contact with each other to agree on the various VERY specific background details that are common to both stories. While those details could have been dictated by an editor, I've seen no evidence in any Archie stories of that degree of editorial coordination, as would be somewhat more common with editors for Marvel or DC Comics, for instance. In trying to imagine the circumstances under which the stories were written, I have to ask myself then -- if they're both the work of one writer, then why didn't he simply combine both stories into one longer story that combined scenes from both? Either it was an editorially-dictated experiment in continuity between two stories, or one story served as the inspiration for the other, which was likely written directly after the first. Either way, it still seems more likely to me that both were written by the same man. Reversing that logic, perhaps the original idea WAS for a longer story that combined both plots, but the editor insisted that the story be cut down to 6 pages, so the writer simply split it into two sides of the same coin, each of which is complete in itself. Another possibility is that both stories originally appeared in the same comic book, and it was just a fun idea to create two parallel stories centered around the events of the same prom. If I'm wrong about the "two stories, same writer" theory, then it WAS a deliberate editorial experiment (and the stories originally likely appeared in two different comic books) designed to test reader reaction to Marvel/DC-style cross-title continuity in Archie Comics, which would actually be the more interesting scenario. If that were indeed the case, then the probability that readers would have been alerted to the experiment in Victor Gorelick's "Editor's Notes" monthly column seems very high.


I hope someone who has the issues can tell you which ones they are. It wouldn't surprise me if one person did both stories, the digests are full of miscredits.

Quote[size=0px]Both stories were inked by Henry Scarpelli, by the way, but that wouldn't seem to offer any real clues, other than it seems likely that both stories were created at the same time, and -- again, it only reinforces my suspicion that one of those writers is mis-credited, and that both stories are actually the work of either George Gladir or of Bob Bolling (my bet would be on Gladir). That's just a guess, and I[/size][/size][size=0px] could[/size][/size][size=0px] be wrong about that[/size]

I didn't read Prom Promoter but I read Prom Problem, it sounds like Bob Bolling:

The characters dropping their 'g's and contracting ("wonderin' who I should ask" "y'know") and simple spellings ("tho")

Funny alliterated band names ("Gilly And The Gig Pigs" "Persistent Pain") and strange named business or entity ("Tijuana Marvin's") followed by funny comment about them ("I love their salsa bagels")

The action wrapping up and then followed with a couple quiet panels with the main character talking to himself or someone else

Fantasy characters like you said, especially when they hang around a lot and do funny stuff or make funny esoteric comments ("I've always been able to reach him as he passes through his third level of consciousness"), the angel competing with the devil and playing his sappy ballads as a weapon against him through almost the whole story. George Gladir's devil and angel wouldve hung around much less.

The reveal of Archie hiding in the baby carriage by Pop done in quietly absurd Bob Bolling way

Random funny stuff wherever it can be stuck in

"Prom Promoter" sounds like Bolling too, Gladir wouldnt have made Veronica do stuff as whimsical as having the band play her off as she leaves or flying over Betty's house and dropping a note that says without you I'm losing my competitive edge. That's the kind of eccentric rich screwball stuff Bolling liked to use for her.

This is starting to depress me, thinking about how Bob Bolling's great funny scripts have been replaced by the snoozefest we get now. :P

DeCarlo Rules

Quote from: daren on May 31, 2016, 02:41:05 am

The reveal of Archie hiding in the baby carriage by Pop done in quietly absurd Bob Bolling way

Random funny stuff wherever it can be stuck in

Oddly enough, I just finished reading a Jughead story by George Gladir and Rex Lindsey (in Jughead and Archie Jumbo Comics #21), and it has a random baby carriage gag in the first panel, where there's a baby pushing a baby stroller with the mother sitting in the stroller sucking her thumb! I guess Rex Lindsey could have put that in there himself, as it's just a sight gag and has no relation to the story, but I just thought it was weird and "quietly absurd", and we do know that sometimes (if not most of the time) Gladir just roughed out his stories in pencil as a guide for the artist.

On the other hand, I'll grant your points and say I'd be just as inclined to accept Bolling as the perpetrator of both stories.

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