This collection is a great historical collection of the first 2 years of Archie comics by Bob Montana. This is where the legend started, based on his own experiences from life in the 1930’s era Haverhill, New Hampshire. While Bob did introduce Archie in Pep comics a little before the publishing of the newspaper strip, it is in the original strips that we see the creation of Archie’s gang and the little town called Riverdale.
It was from these humble beginnings that the most successful independent comic company was born. Archie became a mainstay in the industry with weekly digests and all sorts of comics highlighting Bob’s iconic characters.
Bob Montana remained in control of the newspaper strip up until his passing in 1975. Many other artists took the reigns and evolved Montana’s characters in the countless titles and cartoons and movies as well as musical bands that followed.
Archie comics celebrates small town American life, an idyllic version of a world where all your problems can be resolved over a sundae and a plate of hamburgers at Pop Tate’s Chocolate Shoppe.
Montana incorporated slapstick humor and topical ideas into his work, but he never lost sight of the uniquely American ideal of a simple life of leisure. Archie was the iconic teenager long before the fifties and sixties made it the template of American idealism that it has become.
This is the first in the collection put out by IDW as part of their Library of American Comics series, the next 2 volumes in the series skip ahead to the 1960’s when Archie’s popularity really became cemented in the American conscious. Even people who have not read Archie can recognize his redheaded dimpled face as well as the ever growing army of friends that surround him.
This collection may seem a little strange to someone who has only known the more modern versions of Archie and his gang. In recent years the comic company has jumped on every passing fad trying to redefine itself 75 plus years after it was created, with some success, but mostly a lot of failure. I think it would be better for the series to go back to it’s roots and study the character work that Bob Montana brought to each of his distinctive characters, this is the essence of Archie comics, not the stories or the comedy or the crazy adventures, but the archetypical characters that Montana brought to life.
So if you ever want to have a look back at one of the best drawn as well as entertaining comic strips which broke away from the static norm of talking heads, then check out this collection and realize what made Archie comics the institution that it is today. Until next time True Believers, may your mug always be frosted and your root beer always foamy.