Well here it is, a few years late and they did hafta jump from 1948 to 1960, but at least I got another fix of ARCHIE dailies and I'm not complainin' one bit! Given that at the time not only were comic strips riding a crest of kultural popularity but everything else from tee-vee to teen/kid-dom in general seemed custom made for the suburban slob, these comics really do flash one back to a MUCH BETTER time when the planets were aligned and it still wasn't a sin to eat fast food or think ill of your brother like it is today. Sheesh, I wish the new powers that be would let us be our Old Imperfect Selves instead of the New Perfect Man and wallow in this now fifty-plus-year-gone celebration of everything that was good and decent in this world...y'know, leave us and our cheeseburger culture alone because it's all we ever had and it sure suited us a whole lot better'n your warped concept of civilization ever did!
The artwork's less detailed than it was in the late forties but the gags are just as boffoid, perhaps even more so since Montana and his associates have had time to develop the existing characters and introduce new ones such as the stoopid Swedish janitor Mr. Svenson not to mention the cafeteria cook Miss Beazly, who comes off like yet another variation on the Mammy Yokum/Popeye template and perhaps is twice as gnarlsome. I particularly enjoyed the cafeteria gags with Beazly and her ultra-acrimonious interjections with Mr. Weatherbee which made for some rather high-larious strips that would resonate well with anyone who hadda endure the school lunch debacle throughout their formative years.
The rest of the strips are guffaw-worthy as well. By this time Montana had dropped the continuing storylines so's the gags are quick and sharp, almost like NANCY the way they sorta sneak up on you without any warning and hit you in the face with a pie. No telegraphed five panels in advance jokes here bud! And although the art is more "streamlined" than it was in the late forties when the standard ARCHIE "style" came into its own, the pace, look and general feel remains pretty much the same (as it would until Montana's untimely and surprising death in 1975). The fun and dare-I-say sexiness to many of these fortunately remain to the point where I coulda imagined thousands of sprouting teens rushing to the john with a particular comic page featuring Betty and/or Veronica bikini-clad'n nothing else. Even if they aren't "explicit" the strong feelings will overcome any young fanabla on the search for something other'n the Sears Catalog...take the strip on page 204 where Betty and Veronica are contemplating wearing their new ultra-skimpy bikinis. They find a vacant beach, rush into the waves wearing their somewhat immodest swimsuits, and end up started when a number of skin diving men suddenly pop up to take a look! Lemme tell you this is what I call pretty hot stuff 'n hey, it's sure grand looking at Betty and Veronica's natural curvitude 'stead of the current crop of firmed up women parading themselves around who look like they got their torsos molded in an extra large thing maker machine!
Loads of fun, even to the point where I've been reading and re-reading this book on the lookout for particularly funny strips and the few that might have missed my eyeballs the first time 'round. And hey, I know that the vast majority of you readers were too "hip" (even then) to sprawl out on the floor to read the funnies like I did on a daily basis, but looking back on it all and considering all the fun I had doing so I think I came out the better man for knowing enough to enjoy ARCHIE while all of the hipsters were creeming over DOONESBURY and FUNKY WINKERBEAN. As a result I know that I ended up more well rounded and in tune with the supermarket/fast food world we all live in than some VILLAGE VOICE bred snob who wouldn't know how to insert a tampon unless she read about it in their style section. But it's not too late, so if you would prefer to see the more righteous ways of mid-Amerigan funtime living quit being such a stuck up, burn all of your issues of THE NATION and settle back with some old ARCHIEs while scarfing up a bowl of deep fried to a crackly crunch Cheetos. And hey, if you're lucky maybe you can catch a rerun of ABBOT AND COSTELLO on the local antenna TV station.