Wednesday, September 27, 2017

I never would have thought in a millyun years (if not longer) that any of the MLJ/Archie Comics material would have hit the public domain. Really, considering just what a bunch of litigious trademark-conscious people they were during the John Goldwater days, he being so protective about everything from the Shield' to various Harvey Kurtzman parodies of a particularly cutting edge that they would have kept better care of their historical backlog. Well suffice to say but some of the early MLJ/Archie material is now in the PD and any flybynight operator can reprint and sell up a storm of these without fear of a pack of lawyers breathing down their necks.

To all this I say BULLY!!!! After all if I'm gonna pack off my bucks in order to glom some of these Golden Age tales it better be from a publishing firm like Golden Age Reprints rather'n Archie Publications...considering what a cesspool that company (talkin' Archie Pubs.) has become in their never-ending quest to be up-to-date at the expense of ruining their characters' credibility I don't care if they ever see another penny from me as long as I live!

Yeah, ARCHIE as a comic book (as well as reprinted comic strip in selected papers, a mere shell of what it was since the untimely death of Bob Montana in 1975) is nothing but funtime fodder for adolescent gals, but back during the forties (and well into the seventies) there were still enough kicks for healthy adolescent boys of ALL ages to be found within their pages. And these selected titles I bought from Golden Age Reprints give ya a good idea of just what the old MLJ line was like at least until the old guard died out and the kidz just didn't know exactly what to do with this goldmine (so they ruined it!).

Golden Age has a good selection of MLJ titles including a number of superhero ones as well as some WILBURs (MLJ's attempt at doing their own ARCHIE swipe since everybody else was) and maybe a few PAT THE BRATs as well though I'm not 100 % sure 'bout that. But as you'd expect I decided to save time and $$$ by concentrating on the old ARCHIE standby because hey, why settle for second best when you can get the original teenage anarchistic teen comic instead? Besides I never really cared for the MLJ line of superheroes and WILBUR was a pallid excuse for teenage hijinx, at least next to what ARCHIE was up to that is.

Got three of 'em to discuss at'cha, the first being a thickie that reprints a whole slewwa early Archie appearances including the very first one from '41 when he was but a mere 12-years-old trying to impress new neighbor Betty, who seems like she's staring puberty even earlier'n some gals in my school did much to the discern of various teachers. Frankly these sagas ain't anything special especially when compared with the kind of comic strip Montana was cranking out throughout his realm...the art (even Montana's) comes off stiffer and less-inspired even though he sure knew how to draw the curves on Betty and Veronica even then, and the stories just aren't as catch you off guard funny like even a classic daily from the sixties could be. But still it's great reading these early stories and watching the series develop, not to mention grasp a peek at the curvature in Betty's derriere as she's floating up to Heaven during a rehearsal for UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.

Sure a lotta this has been reprinted by Archie Publications themselves via IDW but with these books you do get a better deal even if some of the pages look like they have either sputtered Post Toasties or dried pecker snot embedded in 'em for all eternity.

Also received was a collection of various ARCHIE appearances from the earlier issues of JACKPOT comics, one of the original MLJ titles that didn't make it into the Archie Age like PEP and LAUGH. Actually the saga where Betty floats to her final reward from a nice rear-view angle appears here, as does the one story where a proto-Reggie initiates Archie into a secret society while a character who goes by the name Reggie (but looks nada like him) appears later. Again it's pleasing in a I WANTED TO SEE THESE COMICS AS A KID BUT IT'S HOKAY BY ME ALL THESE YEARS LATER way to see these early Archie sagas even if they just don't gel the way the newspaper ones I grew up with did. But hey, if you wanna read that story where you see Veronica roasting topless under her sunlamp even though a shadow obscures the boob shape and bullseyes just like they did in a lotta those early-seventies movies well...HERE'S YOUR CHANCE, YOU LUCKY DOG!!!!!!

I got the reprint of PEP #65 from January 1948 because it was the latest in the ARCHIE canon available at the time, and it's a pretty solid read. Of course Archie's the featured cover story, but unlike future issues of this long-lived title there's only one tale from him in here and it's a pretty good 'un where Archie finally gets to out-wit Reggie at his own conniving game. (By the way, I gotta admit that I think that these early renditions of Reggie make him look a whole lot like none other than...Jack Nicholson who probably woulda made a good Reg had they done a tee-vee ARCHIE series inna mid-fifties!) The rest of the book is taken up with the likes of Katy Keene whose strictly for the gals, the now on the way out Shield (postwar superhero slump here...they even redo that old plot about the mad doctor whose attempt to revive the dead is thwarted by the police so he gets convicted, executed and his assistant revives him to wreak havoc on those who had him killed!), and an early Li'l Jinx done up in a more late-forties typical overdone and exaggerated comic style far from the gal you I and Brad Kohler know and loathe.

Even stranger are a couple of stories done up by some guy called "Red" Holmdale (who the internet sez was pretty prolific during them times) about a ghost and his guardian angel who take over the bodies of the recently deceased in order to once again live only they end up getting killed again at the end of the story and have to start all over! Kinda grim and perhaps the misery is accentuated by Holmdale's fairytale suitable art. Sheesh you'd think that a company as wholesome as MLJ woulda nixed an idea as kiddietime violent as that given just how much they jumped on the "approved reading" bandwagon way back when!

's yer choice...might be a good 'un to spend your lonely hours pouring through at least until you can finally locate your old cache of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICs.

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

These look great! I have once again been spending my little leftover income each payday on vintage comic reprints for the last few months. These PD comics re-printers are really on a company I've been following offers DAILY new releases! With the pretentious crap and bloated superhero films on cable TV and Hulu/Netflix/Amazon/etc....when I'm not watching something from Grapevine Video or a dvd-r burn of some 60s Euro historical adventure starring Lex Barker or Brett Halsey or Guy Madison or Cameron Mitchell or John Drew Barrymore or Gordon Scott, I'm reading comic reprints. Presently, I'm working my way through the second massive volume of RACKET SQUAD reprints. Nero may have been fiddling while Rome burned; I'm reading 1940's comic reprints and watching Sam Katzman-produced serials. And checking twice a week for the latest post from BTC!