This week--I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NOT ARCHIE COMICS
Part 1: Archie brand non-Archie comics
The world of teen comedy comics is large, and astride it stands Archie Andrews, the Colossus of the genre. No other teen comic character has his longevity, his appeal, or his buck teeth. However, the comic industry being what it is (or was), legions of imitators have sprung up in an attempt to steal Archie's Zeus-like thunder. All the majors- Marvel, DC, Dell - tried, and all the majors failed. But the most egregious offender in the Archie lookalike category has to go to Archie Comics itself, which shamelessly imitated itself for decades.
First on our list of Archie brand non-Archies is BINGO THAT WILKIN BOY. Bingo is your typical hairy barefoot early 1970s teen who's in a rock band, has a dog named Rebel, and is in love with the girl next door, to the consternation of her weightlifter father.
BINGO really isn't THAT much of an Archie ripoff. Most of the gags revolve around the feud between Bingo's dad and Samantha's dad, or wacky rock-related mishaps involving hippies. Characters like Tough Teddy demonstrate artist Dan Decarlo's eye for current, if garish, fashion.
Why don't the moms of today's America encourage their children to develop friendly relationships with their neighbors?
Go Rebel go!! Bite that hippy!
Who could resist this teaser for the next ish? I mean - UNCLE HERMAN!!!
Next up at bat is the MADHOUSE GLADS, which of started out as the house band of Archie's MADHOUSE humor comic, to the extent of including MADHOUSE's "Alfred E. Neuman" type mascot Clyde Diddit (or maybe his brothers Dick). Soon they developed into full-fledged Archie ripoff characters who eat pizza, hang out at the malt shop, and try to scare each other with haunted houses. These non-entity characters actually had their own comic for a few years. God knows why.
These characters are pretty indistinct. In this panel they don't even bother to give Mister Hippy Hat a name. One thing's for certain, according to the previous panel, somebody in this conversation is named "Dippy".
Or maybe that's "Bippy". Figure it out, guys!
Before there were any such thing as "The Pussycats", JOSIE had her own book and her own set of friends and a complete universe separate from the Archie crowd.
Josie reads French (just like her real-life counterpart) while Pepper - who was dropped like a hot potato when that whole Pussycats thing started - answers the door. You'd think Pepper was just Midge with glasses -and she is, to the extent that she has a big, husky boyfriend. Pepper's boyfriend speaks in complete sentences, though, and Pepper gets to do a lot more than stand around and watch people fight over her. Melody is, of course, Melody, a fully realized character from the start. The "Pussycats" era JOSIEs get all the attention, but the earlier issues are better on almost every level.
The prize for the most shameless Archie wannabe, though, has to go to WILBUR, "America's Son Of Fun". He has Archie's clothes, Archie's teeth, and in fact, appeared in comics BEFORE Archie. So you could very well call Archie a Wilbur rip-off! But that would be stupid.
Oh, no, WILBUR is TOTALLY DIFFERENT. Because Wilbur is going steady with the BLONDE girl, while the DARK-HAIRED girl is trying to steal him away! That's COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!
If this game of "post office" was played today some parent would be getting arrested for "contributing to the delinquincy of minors" or some such nonsense. How are kids supposed to learn this stuff anyway? I say let teens be teens! Especially Linda and Laurie here, who look to be about 25!
BTW, this issue of WILBUR is totally drawn by Joe "Lil' Jinx" Edwards.
When Marvel had their big layoffs in the late 50s Dan DeCarlo moved from MILLIE THE MODEL to Archie and BETTY AND VERONICA and WILBUR, injecting some life into the stale Archie ripoff.
"Wilburkins"? Jesus guys, you could at least TRY maintain the ILLUSION of originality. Actually I do find the WILBUR stories slightly more amoral than ARCHIEs; Wilbur is constantly dating both Laurie and Linda, and neither girl ever takes the moral high ground the way Betty "Christian" Cooper does.
Next time we'll look at Marvel and DC's attempts to cash in on the teen comics trend. And we won't forget Tower Comics and TIPPY TEEN!
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