As MY FAVOURITE FUNNIES No. 20 points out, one of the first so-called Annuals, in the U.S. and Canada, is the ARCHIE ANNUAL.
ARCHIE ANNUAL No. 1 (1950); cover art: Bob Montana. ⇒
Its first issue–dated 1950–arrives at newsstands–in 1949–on the 27th of October–25 cents for 112 pages (plus cover). The Archie publishers follow this up with other Annuals, all priced at 25 cents with more pages than the regular ten cent funny book at the time.
⇐ Archie Quarter Comics ad in ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING No. 6 (1959)
So far so good, right? But then there’s ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING–an 80 page Giant (not counting the cover). The first issue comes out in ’54 on September 24th–quite early for Christmas, but nothing unusual about that as many Christmas comics are timed to come out early so as to stay on the stands longer and as to be sure to arrive everywhere on the continent before the Christmas vacation–shipping to farflung places is not so reliable, eh.
ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING No. 1 (1954). ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING No. 6 (1959); cover art: Harry Lucey.
However, this teen humour Giant is not destined for an easy life. For the rest of the ’50s, the annual schedule continues, with ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING arriving at newsstands in either late September or early October each year. The 6th issue sticks to the plan, as it arrives in ’59 on the 5th of October. But that would be the last issue of the ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING monograph. Something new is about to happen in the swinging ’60s.
ferris bueller’s archie andrews’ day off
Scheduled to arrive at newsstands on the 28th of June ’60, a new title picks up the numbering from ARCHIE’S CHRISTMAS STOCKING. This new omnibus title is ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE–although one could be forgiven for thinking issue No. 7 (September ’60) is Katy Keene Holiday Fun as that’s what appears on the cover.
ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 7 (September ’60); art: Bill Woggan.
Under the new name–and initially still 80 pages for 25 cents, though that will change in time–the series continues for decades hosting a round-robin of different themes. Nevertheless, the Archie’s Christmas Stocking theme remains an annual event for the entirety of the run. On sale the 4th of November ’60, ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 10 (February ’61) is the first Christmas Stocking under this new arrangement.
ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 10 (February ’61); cover art: Harry Lucey & Terry Szenics.
However, this shift in title and frequency is not the only detail that will have Archie indexers tearing their cross-hatched hairs out over the peripatetic Giant series.
At first–under the new title–the course of ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE runs smooth–the only further change being a reduction in page count to 64, with the 16th issue in 1962. That’s understandable–what happens in 1965 is not.
The 35th issue (October ’65), on sale September 2nd that year, features Around the World with Archie. Then on October 16th, the next ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE goes on sale, this time featuring the World of Jughead. Is this issue No. 36? No, it is 136–somehow the series decided to take one Giant step forward, of a hundred issues, without so much as a mother-may-I.
ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 35 (October ’65); cover pencils: Harry Lucey. ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 136 (December ’65); cover pencils: Samm Schwartz.
But that won’t be the last surprise for ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE–as we shall see further down. Indexers beware!
The covers for both issues 141 and 142 feature Archie and the gang in their super-hero costumes–as the craze for super-heroes reaches its height, thanks in part to Bat-Mania. However, 141 is only a come-on, not delivering super-heroics on the inside and going the horror route instead. It’s issue No. 142 that delivers on its promise with cover to cover costumed comedy.
ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 141 (September ’66). ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 142 (October ’66).
Not every issue is just gags. There are some Giants at this time that have extended stories running for many chapters in the book. In the Around the World with Archie themed Giants, Bob White and other artists create artwork that goes beyond the typical Archie style.
Westward Ho-Ho-Ho (Chapter I), ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 35 (October ’65); art: Bob White. A-Haunting We Will Go (Chapter I), ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 141 (September ’66).
Betty and Veronica shilling for ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 138 (June ’66) and ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 140 (August ’66).
pretty in pink
In the ’60s, Harry Shorten’s Tower Comics is a short-lived small press publishing concern (1965 – 1969) consisting of two main products: super-heroes in the form of the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents (Dynamo, Noman, Menthor et al) and teen humour in the form of Tippy Teen (Tippy, Go-Go, Animal et al). There’s also six issues of UNDERSEA AGENT that loosely ties in with the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and three issues of a war anthology called FIGHT THE ENEMY.
THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW (21st of August ’45); story: Harry Shorten; art: Al Fagaly ⇒
Shorten also worked at MLJ in the ’40s as an editor and writer. He co-created the Shield and edited the earliest comics to feature Archie Andrews.
By the mid-’60s, the regular funny books from other publishers are 32 pages for 12 or 15 cents. To distinguish itself from the competition and probably increase its profit margin, Tower’s entire line is 25 cents with more pages–starting out at 64 pages (plus cover) and later going down to 48 pages.
⇐ TIPPY TEEN No. 2 (January ’66); cover art: Samm Schwartz.
Samm Schwartz, another Archie talent, is the editor and sometime artist on the Tippy Teen titles (TIPPY TEEN, TIPPY’S FRIENDS GO-GO & ANIMAL and TEEN-IN).
And other Archie artists, hired on by Samm to moonlight for Tower’s teen funnies, include Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey and Doug Crane.
feature pages in TIPPY TEEN No. 2 (January ’66)–Star Time, Mia Farrow; ad for P.A.L. Club Bulletin Board; requests for pen pals and fashion sketches.
Tower’s super-hero and teen humour comics are not just that, either, as they are hybrids of genres. Just as the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents includes aspects of spy thrillers and of science fiction, so Tippy Teen’s funnies have pin-up pages and parades of fashion a la Katy Keene, as well as feature pages on Rock & Roll and pop culture in general, like the teen fan mags of the day.
TIPPY TEEN No. 13 (June ’67); cover art: Samm Schwartz; Table of Contents.
pages from TIPPY TEEN No. 13 (June ’67)–Meet the Monkees; subscription ads for TIPPY’S FRIENDS GO-GO AND ANIMAL and for TIPPY TEEN; Animal in Financially Speaking and Tippy in Heir Conditioned.
As with the earlier Katy Keene comics and other funny books of the same ilk, the fashion designs for Tippy and Go-Go are sent in by the readers.
Dance Time With Tippy and Go-Go–fashions from readers–TIPPY TEEN No. 13 (June ’67).
The TIPPY TEEN colouring book (Saalfield Publishing Co., 1967); cover art: Samm Schwartz.
–for a few more pages of this colouring book see STUPID COMICS: Color Me Stupid.
VICKI No. 2 (April ’75); 64 pages/50 cents. ⇒
⇐ for a special glimpse of TIPPY TEEN No. 22 (March ’69) take a look at minim .004 Troublesome Double.
the breakfast club
MY FAVOURITE FUNNIES No. 20—as the faithful reader of this blog will know–focuses mainly on the DC 80 PAGE GIANT series and how that develops, eventually becoming a 64 page Giant in the late ’60s, still using the G- prefix in its special numbering. But, during that period, there are plenty of other DC Giants beyond the G- series.
In 1968, prior to the switch from 80 to 64 pages, DC tries out the 64 page format with its quarterly quarter comic, DC SPECIAL–a reprint book that has unique themes for each issue. The precursor to DC SPECIAL is a one-time only 64 page issue of YOUNG LOVE No. 69 (August-September ’68), on sale the 27th of June ’68–all reprints except for special features.
⇐DC SPECIAL No. 1 (October-December ’68); cover art: Carmine Infantino.
DC gives the 64 page/25 cent giant format another go in 1969, with the August-September ’69 issue of SWING WITH SCOOTER–No. 20, also labelled F-1 on the cover.
SWING WITH SCOOTER No. 20/F-1 (August-September ’69); cover art: Henry Scarpelli–an experienced artist who had worked for many publishers including Archie, Scarpelli comes over to DC in the late ’60s and is tasked with bringing an Archie style to their teen humour mags.
This Giant Scooter Summer Fun issue is at newsstands on the 10th of June ’69. The stories inside this funny book are all from late ‘50s/early ‘60s issues of A DATE WITH JUDY, with faces redrawn as Scooter characters and some of the dialogue changed.
When SWING WITH SCOOTER had debuted in ’66, the idea was that Scooter is part of the British Invasion, but he leaves that all behind to live in Plainsville, USA–an attempt to live a normal teen-age life. However, by the late ’60s, any originality is gone as Scooter’s just another Archie clone.
SUGAR AND SPIKE No. 85/F-2 (September-October ’69 ’69); story & art: Sheldon Mayer.
On the 21st of July ’69, the F-1 Giant is followed by an F-2. This is SUGAR AND SPIKE No. 85/F-2 (September-October ’69)–Giant Sugar and Spike Summer Fun–reprinting stories of Tomorrow’s Teen-Agers.
These two F- series giants set the stage for SUPER DC GIANT in the following year, which uses the S- prefix. The first of these, with a September-October ’70 date in its indicia, is oddly numbered S-13–best not to think about why it has this number, that way lies madness.
⇐ SUPER DC GIANT No. S-13 (September-October ’70); cover art: Henry Scarpelli.
On sale July 2nd in 1970, this is a Binky issue with the bulk of the contents reprinted from the ‘50s issues of LEAVE IT TO BINKY, albeit with updated faces and dialogue. Note that the first five titles in the SUPER DC GIANT series all come out in the same month of July ’70. The next three all cpme out in August ’70, before the title slows to a leisurely pace.
Collective wisdom argues reprints must faithfully reproduce the story as it first appeared. However, there is an irreverent regard for reprints in the ‘60s and ’70s, as an editor will think nothing of altering art, dialogue, captions, colours–sometimes creating novel framing devices around the stories–which makes the reprint a new thing and not really a reproduction of the old comics.
SUPER DC GIANT No. S-16–with the Best of the Brave and the Bold as its theme–is an example of this creative approach to reprinting. The framing sequence,written by Bob Haney with art by Dick Dillin and Mike Esposito, also features a pin-up of Batman with many of his co-stars. A colouring error transforms Speedy of the Teen Titans into the old school version of Green Arrow–never mind that updated Green Arrow is standing right there in the same room–but an understandable mistake for the man or woman in the production department tasked with sorting out who is who–and what Earth do they come from?
SUPER DC GIANT No. S-16 (September-October ’70); new cover art: Murphy Anderson; framing story: Bob Haney; framing art: Dick Dillin & Mike Esposito.
In ADVENTURE COMICS Nos. 397 (September ’70) and 398 (October ’70), Supergirl had tried out new fashion ideas sent in from readers for updating her traditional outfit. The Maid of Might continues to vary her wardrobe with these fashion suggestions for the next couple of years. In SUPER DC GIANT No. S-24 (May-June ’71), the Girl of Tomorrow presents even more reader fashion sketches, rendered by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.
SUPER DC GIANT No. S-24 (May-June ’71); cover art: Swan & Anderson/Sekowsky & Giordano; special feature pages: Mike Sekowsky & Dick Giordano (based on reader suggestions).
ad for DATE WITH DEBBI No. 16 (July-August ’71); cover art: Stan Goldberg & Henry Scarpelli. Note Goldberg is another Archie artist bringing that style to DC. ⇒
⇐ BINKY No. 79 (June-July ’71); cover art: Stan Goldberg & Henry Scarpelli.
Included among these Giant runs are the teen mags:
DATE WITH DEBBI Nos. 13 (January-February ’71) – 16 (July-August ’71); SWING WITH SCOOTER Nos. 32 (February-March ’71) – 34 (June-July ’71); and BINKY Nos. 77 (February-March ’71) – 79 (June-July ’71).
After DC switches to a 48 page/25 cent format for their regular ongoing titles, these three teen humour comics all go down to the 48 page format, as well–before being discontinued entirely, as DC gets out of the teen humour business.
This Giant expansion presents a problem when DC promotes most of their regular ongoing titles to a 48 page/25 cent format and the 64 page format is phased out, though not forever.
In 1971, as described in MY FAVOURITE FUNNIES No. 10, the plan is for other companies to join DC in this upgrade of format.
this letter from Carmine Infantino appears in August ’71 cover dated DC comics, to explain the change in pricing. ⇒
Marvel is in on the deal, but backs out later leaving National Periodical Publications (aka DC) looking overpriced next to them. And Harvey is another publisher that switches their whole line to 48 pages for 25 cents.
Previously, in 1970, ARCHIE’S PALS AND GALS has already reduced its page count from 64 pages to 48, but in ’71, ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE climbs down from 64 pages to 48 pages with issue No. 184 (June ’71) on sale March 30th, and other Archies with the Giant label follow suit.
an ad for ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE issues and other Giant Archies, appearing in December ’65 dated comics vs. a similar ad in August ’72 dated comics.
At that same time in ’71, some (but not all) of the 32 page Archie titles, that have been 15 cents, up their game to become 48 page quarter comics.
house ad and cover for ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 199 (September ’72).
ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 200 (October ’72); cover pencils: Dan DeCarlo. ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 201 (October ’72); cover art: Dan DeCarlo & Joe Edwards.
ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE continues to stick with its 48 page count–notable exceptions are the two January ’72 cover dated issues, Nos. 195 and 196, that are 80 pages for 50 cents.
And at Archie this state of affairs remains for a longer period than at Marvel, Harvey or DC, with about half of the Archie titles continuing as 48 pages for 25 cents until the end of 1973.
⇐ subscription ad for ARCHIE AND ME, BETTY AND ME, REGGIE AND ME, from BETTY AND ME No. 43 (August ’72).
BETTY AND ME No. 43 (October ’73). REGGIE AND ME No. 66 (October ’73).
However, ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE has to keep upping its price tag to maintain that 48 page count, until finally, instead of increasing its price, No. 234 (June ’75) drops its content to 32 pages (plus cover) for 25 cents–the standard for comics in those days. Which should mean it isn’t really a Giant at all–yet it continues to be called ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE until 1992, even though it isn’t by any stretch of the imagination what it claims to be.
the not so giant ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 514 (January ’82); cover art: Dan DeCarlo. ⇒
You got to admire the chutzpah of the Archie publishers for keeping up the pretence for so long.
The surprises don’t end there. Remember when the title jumped a hundred issues from No. 35 to No. 136? It happens again, but this time there is a jump of 200 issues! From No. 251 (October ’76) to No. 452 (December ’76). Astounding.
All in a Day’s Work, in the not so giant ARCHIE GIANT SERIES MAGAZINE No. 614 (October ’90); story: Karen A. Szczucka ; cover and inside art: Henry Scarpelli. Archie gets a letter from Archie, in regards to their upcoming 50th annniversary, and the Riverdale gang head to Mamaroneck, NY, to visit the Archie offices.
national lampoon’s vacation
When the Comics Code Authority is making life difficult for Bill Gaines, in the mid-’50s, he ultimately gives up on publishing the colour EC funny books that are critically acclaimed by readers of good taste but publicly scorned by arbiters of bad sense.
Starchie, from MAD No. 12 (June ’54), as reprinted in TALES CALCULATED TO DRIVE YOU MAD No. 4 (Summer ’98); story: Harvey Kurtzman; art: Will Elder. ⇒
The one comic Gaines holds onto is MAD–which has been doing quite well with its comic lampoonery, including a wicked satire of Archie called Starchie–in MAD No 12 (June ’54). Gaines realizes that he can get by the Comics Code if he just publishes MAD as a black & white magazine. Somehow this simple change in format sets MAD apart from all the other funny books and parent teacher associations will go back to not caring–it is the equivalent of drawing a chalk circle so that none may pass.
The success of MAD leads to other b & w magazines from other publishers flying below the Code’s radar–and not always of the parody type (Jim Warren’s magazines are an apt example), although parody is a surefire way to get attention.
Late into the game comes NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE in 1970, but to be fair this mag grows out of the HARVARD LAMPOON which has been around for a century by then. NATIONAL LAMPOON mixes comic book satire with sardonic prose articles. Some mainstream comic book talents contribute to the magazine, while the articles are an outlet for a new generation of writers who have come of age in the ‘60s.
Cover and Frontline Dentists, for THE BEST OF NATIONAL LAMPOON No. 3 (1973); cover art: Neal Adams; story: Michael O’Donoghue; art: Frank Springer.
At that time, in the early ’70s, NATIONAL LAMPOON is published out of the same office building–909 Third Avenue in Manhattan–as National Periodical Publications (aka DC) and MAD–the latter two being owned by the same conglomerate, Kinney, and all three being distributed by Independent News Company, also owned by Kinney.
for an index of this legendary period of NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE see Mark’s Very Large National Lampoon Site.
NATIONAL LAMPOON takes no prisoners. MAD and other parody magazines are tame by comparison. The magazine achieves it greatest success between ’72 and ’75. However, by the late ’70s, when John Hughes begins contributing to NATIONAL LAMPOON, those days are well behind. The magazine has lost its ability to shock readers, who have seen it all before.
Cover and Vacation ’58, for NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE Vol. 2, No. 14 (September ’79); story: John Hughes.
But it is in these latter days when National Lampoon, Inc., moves into the business of making movies and thus exploiting their brand for greater profit.
The humour pieces by John Hughes in the magazine, many based on his experiences as a teen, provide material for the movies to come, which Hughes will also be involved with in some way–sometimes writing, sometimes directing. One such movie that grows out of a John Hughes semi-autobiographical story is NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION. That is based on Vacation ’58 in NATIONAL LAMPOON MAGAZINE Vol. 2, No. 14 (September ’79).
Other movies follow, as John Hughes proves to have a unique insight into the teen-age mind and the humour that can be wrung from all that angst.
by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes . . .
. . . try to remember the kind of September when you were a tender and callow fellow, the third week of September . . .
The Last Son of Krypton travels through time to his home planet, where he meets his would-be parents and falls in love with an actress named Lyla Lerrol, in Superman’s Return to Krypton by Jerry Siegel, Wayne Boring and Stan Kayed–SUPERMAN No. 141 (November ’60) at newsstands the 15th of September 60.
September 18th ’36, the November ’36 issue of FUNNY PICTURE STORIES is the first issue–from Centaur Publishing–and it’s the first issue to feature an original masked crime fighter in funny books, Alias the Clock.
Named for publishing partners Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit and John L. Goldwater, MLJ Magazines (later Archie) enters the funny business with the first issue of BLUE RIBBON COMICS (November ’39) coming out on the 18th of September ’39.
In SHOWCASE No. 17 (November-December ’58), Adam Strange is an archaeologist who is struck by a Zeta Beam on Earth and finds himself transmaterialized on the planet Rann in the Alpha Centauri system, where he meets the scientist Sardath and his beautiful daughter, Alanna–thus beginning a star-crossed love affair that will lead to many more adventures–don’t be late to catch the beam on the 18th of September ’58.
Check your local listings September 19th ’63, as THE FLASH gets caught in the middle of a rivalry between Heat-Wave and Captain Cold when they both compete for the affections of TV’s Dream Girl, in the November ’63 issue (No. 140) of the fastest magazine alive.
CRAZY, the Marvel magazine that wants to be MAD, in issue No. 44 (November ’78) mocks GREASE (the movie), at local drugstores on the 19th of September ’78–pick it up while you’re shopping for Brylcreem.
Batman Meets Jerry in issue No. 97 of THE ADVENTURES OF JERRY LEWIS (November-December ’66), at your newsdealer the 20th of September ’66.
The winning number is 3! 3 Star-studded novel-length classics in the 80 pg. Giant JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA No. 58/G-41 (November-December ’67)–with a cover by Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene–you don’t see that very often. And . . . Spectre-acular Announcement! He’s back (from the grave) to thrill, chill and excite you in extraordinary exploits. Don’t you dare miss THE SPECTRE No. 1 (November-December ’67)–or you’ll be haunted the rest of your life. Both are on sale September 21st ’67.
. . . try to remember and if you remember then follow the last week of September . . .
Superman is accused of murdering Lex Luthor on the planet Lexor in ACTION COMICS 318 (November ’64) on sale September 24 ’64. For more see 50 Light Years to Lexor.
24 September ’82, Spuk in der Werkstatt, the first episode of MEISTER EDER UND SEIN PUMUCKL, airs on Bavarian TV–based on the story by Ellis Kaut. For more see 52 Pumuckl Pick-Up [holt ab]
Coming out on the 25th of September ’40, Timely’s Fall ’40 issue of THE HUMAN TORCH is numbered 2, but it’s really the first issue. The Sub-Mariner also stars.
An archer and his kid sidekick fight crime using trick arrows, as Green Arrow and Speedy make their first appearance in MORE FUN COMICS No. 73 (November ’41); meanwhile, the son of an undersea explorer who has learned how to live in the ocean’s depths, helps a group of refugees escape an attack from a German U-boat, as Aquaman also makes his first appearance in the same issue, at newsstands September 25th ’41.
In The Terrible Trio (Unknown/Moldoff/Paris)–the Fox, the Shark and the Vulture return after a five year absence, for a second go around. [Their first turn (by Wood/Moldoff/Paris) was in DETECTIVE COMICS 253 (March ’58).] It comes out September 26th ’63 in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 321 (November ’63).
Y’know, I liked his earlier funnier work. Woody Allen guest stars in SHOWCASE No. 71 (November-December ’67), the third and final try out and appearance of the mod, rock band called the Maniaks–cover by Mike Sekowsky and Mike Esposito–Sefor review on the 26th of September ’67.
In issue No. 5 (November-December ’49), MISS BEVERLY HILLS OF HOLLYWOOD meets Bob Hope and Rhonda Fleming who are starring in THE GREAT LOVER [to be released November 23rd ’49–and by the way, George Reeves was a supporting player in that movie]–also in this issue: Montgomery Clift, Dane Clark, Dennis Day and Mona Freeman–featuring an illustrated cover with publicity photos–in wide release September 29th ’49.