Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Adventures of Little Archie, Volume 1

Boy, have I been reading a bunch of violent superhero comics lately. I need to cleanse my reading palate , and luckily I happened upon this volume at my local used bookstore a couple of weeks ago.

Many people are familiar with Archie Comics, and for decades they have been popular with younger and teen readers. This book reprints some classic stories from 1961 to 1965 from a series based on the childhood exploits of one of America's favorite redheads. Instead of just being tales about teen romance and antics, the ones in this book show much more range, from zany science fiction action to nature tales to fantasy adventures. Here are some sample images:

Little Archie with Abercrombie. Or is it Stitch?
The supervillainous Mad Doctor Doom - (no relation)
Manly adventure tales!
Riffs on popular fantasy adventures

These stories are not all that deep, but they are fine adventure stories that are funny and very human. They depict and define Archie's hometown Riverdale in ways unseen in other comics. They also range in great sweeps from silly robot humor to slapstick tumbles to high adventure. There are some amazing sights in this book including a huge gorilla, an alien world, a giant crumbling dam, pirates, dinosaurs, and Little Archie wearing a bushy mustache as a disguise. Personally, I liked the nature adventures best, but there are no clunkers in this volume.

These stories were notable in the 1960s for their artistry, and even though credits were not given as often in those days, readers did take note of the craft and style of Bob Bolling, who was allowed to sign his name to these comics. He was a notable and influential artist, as you can read about here. He had a long career at Archie writing and drawing stories about him as a child and a teen. A great appreciation of Bolling, his stories, and his art from Jaime Weinman can be found here. A couple of Bolling's Little Archie stories can be found here.

The Adventures of Little Archie is published by (who else?) Archie.

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