Written and Illustrated by Various
Published by Archie Comics
Way back when I was eight years old, the very first Archie comic I ever read was an issue of Life with Archie. Over time I came to realize that—contrary to popular belief—all Archie titles were not exactly alike.
Unlike most other series featuring the Riverdale gang, Life with Archie, from the very beginning, was noticeably different. Rather than six or eight page stories showcasing school dances, beach frolics, picnics, and other romcom plot devices, Life specialized in longer tales, some more realistic and others much more fantasy-oriented.
The new collection, Life with Archie: Vol. 1 refers to these tales as “alternate reality takes.” Presented here are 16 out of the ordinary tales of America’s favorite teens as originally published between 1958 and 1965.
These stories are all drawn by the usual suspects, with Bob White and Harry Lucey particularly standing out. The writers, too are the cream of the Archie crop—Doyle, Gladir, Bolling, White, and Sy Reit. Reit, best remembered (if at all) as the co-creator of the Friendly Ghost, Casper, stands out to me with some especially good writing and gags.
In fact, nearly all of these stories have some great lines as well as unique plots.
Where else will you find Archie and Reggie in a hidden undersea kingdom about to be fed to a giant clam? Or Archie disappearing on the ski slopes of the Riverdale Winter Carnival (My favorite story in this volume, btw)? Or volunteer nurses Betty and Veronica looking after a mysterious comatose patient while another man stalks him from the shadows? Or Archie and Ronnie as jungle lord Tarpan and his mate, Jane? Or danger at the 1965 World’s Fair? Or the girls in bondage?? (Seriously. That’s a selling point to some. Come on, people! They’re sixteen and a half years old!!! Sheesh!)
Classic Archie fans will, of course, appreciate all this already. New Archie fans (thanks to Riverdale) will note that vintage Archie was not always as predictable as one might expect.
Frankly, as much as I enjoyed Life with Archie: Vol. 1, if there’s a second volume coming down the pike, it should pick up just about where I came in, with the Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. and the surreal Monkees-style Archies stories, adding an extra layer of nostalgia to everything as far as I’m concerned.
Nostalgia isn’t necessary to enjoy the Archie stories in this current volume, though. They’re all just good comics!