In the early '40s, the comic book business was booming. Superheroes had lit the fuse on an explosion of a whole new popular medium, and while there were plenty of Superman and Batman knockoffs running around, publishers were finding their footing in other genres, too, from westerns to teen comedies. And on October 15, 1940, when Pep Comics #22 hit newsstands across the country (cover dated December 22), it was that last one that gave comics one of their most enduring, beloved, and important characters.
That character was Archie Andrews, and over the ensuing years he'd rack up one of the most interesting legacies in comics, one that included not only enduring success, but becoming synonymous with an entire genre, taking weird diversions into over-the-top drama and religious proselytizing ---- and becoming one of the very few fictional characters to ever have a #1 single.
Everyone loves comic book trivia, but with 75 years of superhero comics behind us right now, there’s always some new obscure fact to learn. That’s why ComicsAlliance is going deep into the minutiae of your favorite characters in our continuing video series. You think you know comics? Well, here’s a few things you might not know!
With Archie's high profile relaunch just over the horizon, this week we're taking a look at America's boy friend, Archie Andrews! Find out Archie's quickly abandoned nickname, what he does with his time when he's not busy being America's typical bigamist teenager, and who the strangest visitors to darken Riverdale's doorway are, as well as several other equally interesting facts.
Q: Can you help an Archie skeptic understand why it's so great? - @SuperSentaiBros
A: Man, I hope so. After all, until a few years ago, Archie was arguably the most overlooked publisher in comics just by sheer volume of what they were putting out, at least among die-hard superhero fans. And to be honest, they had a good reason for it --- in a lot of ways, those comics had gotten stale, and they were in dire need of exactly the kind of shot in the arm that they got from the big name projects that have made them so engaging today.
The thing is, at least in my case, it wasn't when Archie suddenly got weird that made me such a big fan. It was when I realized that they'd been weird all along.
As you may have heard, Archie is relaunching their flagship title in July, bringing an end to what has been the longest continuously published American comic that has never been rebooted, after 666 issues. In addition to a new direction from Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, the relaunch is getting a whole slew of variant covers focusing on the revamped design for everyone's favorite two-timing redheaded high schooler, from artists like J. Scott Campbell, Dean Haspiel, and more.
Now we've got seven of those variant covers to reveal, bringing the total number of Archie #1 variants to approximately one hundred million (and all of them awesome). Check them out below, from Tania Del Rio, Genevieve F.T., legendary Superman and Shazam artist Jerry Ordway, and more!
It's been very interesting to watch Archie Comics transform from a company built on eternally unchanging teenage shenanigans in a peaceful, small town to the culturally progressive company that grabs headlines at every turn with how it's rebuilding Riverdale for the modern comics reader. But besides the stories that strike chords within contemporary political conversations, it's been fun seeing just how Archie tackles these "Big Event" elements that we've seen in other American comics. I mean, in the world of superheroes, a character's death (or "death") has been a rite of passage since the '70s, but for Archie, it's entirely new territory. In waiting so long to use these elements, the events not only feel fresh, they're also built in a much more interesting way than their cape-and-tights counterparts.
Or at least, that's the case with Archie's death at the hands of a gunman in the pages of this week's Life With Archie #36, which isn't just an evocative and moving story, it's also one of the most fascinatingly structured comics I've ever read.
It isn't yet clear just how Archie Andrews will exit this mortal coil in the "Death of Archie" story starting in next month's Life with Archie #36, but one thing that's pretty clear is that the cover art is going to be pretty spectacular.
Archie Comics unveiled most of the covers for issues #36 and #37, which feature illustrations from artists such as Fiona Staples, Francesco Francavilla, Walt Simonson and Jill Thompson back in April, but Adam Hughes' cover wasn't finished yet. Now it is, and it's a moody, evocative image centering on a glass of soda left with no one to drink it. Is it perhaps a clue that Archie died of kidney stones or type-2 diabetes? That we'll have to wait to find out, but we can all see the full cover right now.
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