Written by Various
Art by Harry Lucey / Dan DeCarlo
Published by Archie Comics
Archie is 80! Seems like only last week I worked on the big Archie 70th anniversary book, and just yesterday I worked on some of the 75th anniversary stuff. Time, as the saying goes, flies.
To celebrate the 80th, Archie Comics is releasing a series of specialized digital comics, each highlighting a character or a creator. At hand are the Harry Lucey volume and the Dan DeCarlo volume.
Now whether or not you like either of these or prefer one to the other will certainly depend on your preference as to whom was the best Archie artist. Me, I have always adored DeCarlo’s smooth illustration with its evocative work on characters’ faces. Over the years, though, perhaps as my tastes matured, I have come to regard Lucey as my overall favorite Archie artist.
Well, let’s face it, it’s never about how well Archie Andrews is drawn but about how well Betty and Veronica are drawn. They have to be pretty, attractive, stylish, and have enough personality so as not to be seen as just clones of each other with different hair colors. Most importantly, they can’t be too sexy because, as Vic Gorelick once pointed out, they are perpetually 16 ½ years old!
Both artists excelled at drawing Betty and Veronica.
To my eyes, DeCarlo was best right out of the gate and that may have challenged Lucey to get even better. Both artists worked in the classic Archie style that grew out of Bob Montana’s original depictions of the characters but by the ‘60s, Lucey’s slick and sleek versions came across as unique amongst all the others. It was sometimes hard to tell who drew what as Archie avoided credits for many years but no one would confuse Lucey’s art with DeCarlo’s by 1970. At his best, to me, he was THE best.
Which makes me sad that of these two collections, the DeCarlo one is better. Both have good choices of stories, although some have been reprinted numerous times. Most are written by one or the other of the two main Archie writers over the years—Frank Doyle or George Gladir. We get to see Lucey’s unmistakable version of DeCarlo’s Sabrina, even!
No, the problem comes in the digital reproduction. Looks good all the way through for Dan but Harry’s fine line reproduces poorly in some of the entries in his book and the blander digital coloring doesn’t help.
Overall, if you’re a fan, you’ll like ‘em. If you aren’t familiar with DeCarlo or Lucey, I recommend starting with the multi-volume hardcover “Best of” sets that came out about ten years back.
Issues aside, this is classic stuff.