Wrriten By: Mark Henely
I want to pose a theory that I am going to call the “Archie Comics Paradox”. There are two things about Archie comics that are true: 1) Most people don’t read Archie Comics and yet 2) Most people have some sort of relationship with Archie Comics. Most people have read an Archie comic at some point in the 75 plus years that the comic book company has been around and, if they haven’t, then they have, at least, seen the Sabrina the Teenage Witch TV show, watched the Josie and the Pusscats movie, or heard the Acrhie’s hit song from 1969: “Sugar, Sugar”. The Archie Paradox is that while few people buy the books, most people are still interested in what Archie Comics is doing (if they do something big). If Archie Comics can release a story that is big enough and eye-catching enough, then news outlets will pick up the story and readers will buy it.
The company has used the Archie Paradox to it’s advantage many times in recent years to sell a lot of comics. Stories like the one where Archie meets Kevin Keller (his first gay friend), or when Archie fought Predator, or when Archie himself died sold big. It isn’t that people didn’t want to buy Archie Comics, it is that people only want to buy Archie Comics if something was actually going to happen. So, what was Archie comics next move in it’s fight for relevancy? They decided to make good comics.
While I love Archie Comics unconditionally, many people do not. The stories, in recent decades, had become bland and predictable. Whenever I told someone that I liked Archie Comics, I always got strange looks. It was like saying that I really liked Bazooka Joe comic strips or the Yule Log. So, if Archie was going to make good comics, they were going to have to hire some big names. And they did. Archie Comics hired Mark Waid and Fiona Staples to reinvent Archie and Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson to revamp Jughead. While both comics are very good, they are also very different. Waid recognizes the inherent appeal that Archie and his friends have as characters and utilizes them in a story that is funny as well as emotional gripping. Simply put: Waid makes smarter Archie stories. Chip and Erica mostly go for the laughs.
It pays off too because Jughead #2 is pretty funny. Not too funny, but funnier than the stories found in the average Archie and Jughead Double Digest. Erica Henderson is a very talented artist, but I personally don’t like her style. The way she draws mouths bothers me, but her style lends itself particularly well to comedy. Every face is super expressive and the comic is funnier with her on it.
The format for the Jughead comic is as follows: Jughead has a problem, he falls a asleep, has pop culture parody dream, learns something relevant from it, and applies the dream lessons to his personal life. It’s a bizarre format that really works as an Archie Comic. Jughead is not a character that is driven by love and other traditionally heroic desires. Jughead likes to eat and he likes to be lazy. Because of this, his stories have to be a little outside of the box. I think it is a smart idea to use sleeping as a plot device for a character that is lazy.
Readers who aren’t already readers of Archie Comics might find something that they would like here. The comedy is at least as good as your average Cartoon Network daytime cartoon and maybe, over time, will become as good as your average Adult Swim cartoon. Fans who already like Archie will find a lot to like here. Chip Zdarsky is clearly a big fan of Archie Comics and he does Jughead justice in this comic.
***Mark Henely is a stand up comedian, podcaster, and comic book fan. He went to Rutgers University where he officially studied English Literature and unofficially studied Marvel and DC Comics. Now he has a podcast where he reviews the first appearances of Comic Book characters. It is called “Introducing… The First Appearance Podcast” and you can check it out on iTunes and Stitcher. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/introducing…the-first-appearance/id993523477