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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Archie Key Issues


Although super-hero comics still reign supreme in this current comic boom, there are still valuable alternatives to caped crusaders and men of steel. This key issues list was first requested by Gabriel Kawa, and I didn't really want to do it at the time.

Then I kept getting a few more email requests concerning an Archie key issues list. Finally, a Mr. Devin was the last straw. Might as well give it a shot.

Just to let you know right off the bat, I am no Archie expert. I actually could care less about the comic or character and have zero interest in anything Archie.

Some probably don't care for these comics also, but I do have to admit that Archie and his brood has been a popular and iconic character for quite a while now in the world of comics. There's also no doubt that some of the early appearances of Archie and his gang during the Golden Age are super valuable.

Also, some of the appearances for characters are hard to pinpoint since some do appear in two different titles that were on stands around the same time. Also, there are prototypes for some characters as well and don't officially appear until later according to industry.

So, here goes with some Archie Andrews key comics. We'll have to see how in-depth this gets since there are quite a few recurring major and minor characters in the Archie-verse, and how badly I muck this up to those who do consider themselves Archie experts.




PEP COMICS #22
1st appearance of Archie
1st appearance of Betty
1st appearance of Jughead


In comics, Archie Andrews is perhaps the most iconic teenage comic character to ever hit the newsstands. Overstreet tags the Archie Comics as the first comic about a teenager and the trials and tribulations that a pretty normal American teenager goes through.

Despite being an American teen, the themes contained in Archie's adventures are pretty universal for sure. Archie Andrews has well intentions but his actions often has the opposite effect, the type of person my own pops cannot stand.

He is clumsy and accident prone and often becomes infatuated with girls he's just met. However, Betty and Veronica are his two most prominent love interests and would form the classic love triangle that ran throughout Archie's stories.

Betty Cooper is the girl next door, and she is the extremely kind hearted close friend of Archie. Betty is deeply in love with Archie but is often 2nd fiddle to Veronica in his eyes. Archie isn't without faults and is sometimes a douche bag to Betty. He borrows money from her every so often so he can take Veronica out. Yipes!

In early stories involving Archie, Betty and Veronica, Archie often unknowingly uses Betty as a back up plan during the times he is dateless as well. Betty is good student, athlete, cook and knows her way around cars.

She cares for the well-being of others and is always willing to help. Polly and Chic Cooper are her two siblings though they show up later during the Silver Age.

Last and certainly not least is the character of Jughead that makes his debut in this comic as well. He is the best friend of Archie Andrews and is considered the lazy, moocher of the bunch.

Jughead is always asking favors when it concerns money and food. He is obsessed with food. Despite him being a mooch, Jughead is a loyal friend to Archie and often bails him out of trouble.

Jughead is known for being mostly apathetic towards girls unlike his best-friend and is easily identified by his iconic crown beanie. He is obviously one of the major supporting characters in the Archie universe and was even spun-off into his own successful, self-titled comic series.

Archie's father Fred Andrews also makes his first appearance in this comic as well. Mary Andrews or Mrs. Andrews also appears in this issue but is not identified and only in a cameo.

Archie, Betty Cooper and Jughead were created by Vic Bloom and Bob Montana. MLJ Magazines is the company that first published the Archie stories, and the series was created to attract fans of the Andy Hardy movies starring Mickey Rooney.

Pep Comics #22 is cover dated December, 1941 but it was on sale in October.

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PEP COMICS #23
2nd appearance of Archie
2nd appearance of Betty
2nd appearance of Jughead

CGC once noted Pep Comics #23 as the 3rd appearance of Archie Andrews, but this proved to not be the case recently. Another big confusing 2nd appearance was between Pep Comics #23 and Jackpot Comics #4.

Many are still noting Jackpot Comics #4 as the 2nd appearance, but this will be wrong soon. CGC now notes Pep Comics #23 as Archie Andrews 2nd appearance. Why is this possible?

Jackpot Comics #4 has the cover date of Winter, 1941 and Pep Comics #22 has the cover date of December, 1941, so it's easy to think that the comics came out at the same time. However, recent information about actual on sale dates or when both comics were actually readily made available to the public places Pep Comics #23 on sale in November.

Jackpot Comics #4 was on sale in December. If you did not know, comics back in the day usually or mostly first hit the stands two months prior to the cover date.

It's usually the same case nowadays, but around 1973 and during most of the 70s comic issues did hit the stands and stores sometimes 3 or 4 months before the dates on comic covers. I think they have reverted back to 2 months for most publishers nowadays.

The cover date was used as a sort of expiration date to pull from the stands, and to let various issues still be on the stands at the same time.

Comics that are pulled from the stands would either be returned to the publisher or destroyed. So, yes, Jackpot Comics #4 was on the stands at the same time as Pep Comics #22 & 23 and even #24, but the argument is that all three of the Pep Comics #22 to #24 were published or released to the general public before Jackpot Comics #4.

Overstreet Guide may now note Pep Comics #23 as the 2nd appearance of Archie as well. If not, they should be doing it pretty soon.

Comics that came out quarterly within a year (usually comics with Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter cover dates and usually marked by the year also) were typically on sale during the season that was noted on their comic covers. This was not always the case, but usually.

January, 1942 is the cover date for Pep Comics #23. On sale date is around November 15, 1941. Watch out for those who are selling Jackpot Comics #4 and noting it the 2nd appearance of Archie. They won't be correct according to the new notations by Overstreet and CGC.

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JACKPOT COMICS #4
1st appearance of Mrs. Grundy
1st Archie on cover
4th or 3rd appearance of Archie?

When it comes to Archie and some supporting character's appearances after the first, it definitely gets convoluted and messed up. Since the universe during this time was just being created, some characters aren't fully fleshed out or changed later on.

One example is the character of Mrs. Grundy in which there is another supporting character named Miss Grundy. In this issue, Mrs. Grundy somewhat shares the likeness of Miss Grundy but not like a teacher by the name of  Mrs. Scott who appears in Pep Comics #24. Mrs. Grundy is introduced as the principal of Riverdale High School.

The character of Miss Grundy that becomes more familiar with fans is changed to a teacher instead and quite soon. I'm not sure if  this could be called a prototype or tryout for the character of Miss Grundy, because a later Archie story would have him meet the new principal Mr. Weatherbee.

A few other characters would go through this weirdness in the Archie comics also. We will be getting to the others soon enough, but I'm not sure if the character of Mrs. Grundy did evolve into the other character of the more popular and sustaining Miss Grundy.

Jackpot Comics #4 is also the 3rd or 4th appearances of Archie, Betty Cooper, and Jughead. It may have first hit the newsstands a few days after Pep Comics #24 did, but in the Archie Archives volume 1 collected edition by Dark Horse Comics, this Archie story is placed before Pep Comics #24. I believe the Archie Archives is chronologically collected as well.

What is known or is pretty sure of is that this is Archie's first cover appearance, but it's only his face in a circle off to the side. Jackpot Comics #4 is the 1941 Winter issue, and it went on sale around December 20, 1941 or a few days earlier.

There is a Jackpot Comics #4 with an arrival date of December, 19th marked on the cover, so not entirely sure the earliest date it hit the stands. This is the problem with relying solely on arrival dates. They can vary.

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PEP COMICS #24
1st appearance of Coach Kleats
3rd or 4th appearance of Archie

Nobody as in industry is yet noting Pep Comics #24 as the 3rd appearance. If we are disregarding cover dates, because Pep Comics #24 and #23 were on the stands at the same time as Jackpot Comics #4, the next logical place to look is when these comics actually hit the stands.

This issue may have actually first hit the stands mere days before Jackpot Comics #4. If we're actually talking about continuity here, Archie Archives volume 1 places the reproduced story "The Play Goes to the Dogs" in Jackpot Comics #4 before "The Basketball Blunder" in Pep Comics #24.

Once again, I'm not sure if the collected stories are chronological in Archie Archives, but I do think they are. Would kind of make little sense to have reproduced a collection of the earliest Archie stories and not have them in chronological order.

What is even more strange about this issue is that a Mrs. Scott really looks to have the same likeness as Miss Grundy. Mrs. Scott just may be an earlier prototype for what would become Miss Grundy, Archie's homeroom teacher. A Mrs. Grundy is introduced in Jackpot Comics #4, but sort of resembles the character that becomes Ms. Grundy.

The trademark white wig that usually falls off or becomes messed up for Miss Grundy is seen happening to Mrs. Scott in this issue as well. So, maybe a prototype or may not be.

This issue also has the first appearance of Coach Kleats, and I am not entirely sure why Overstreet just notes it as a "Coach Kleats appearance" and not his first appearance. He is shown in the first page of the story. He would go unnamed until Archie Comics #94.

Cover date is February, 1942, but Pep Comics #24 hit the stands around December 15, 1941.

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PEP COMICS #25
5th appearance of Archie
1st appearance of Archie's Jalopy
1st skinny Mr. Weatherbee 

Batman has the Batmobile and Archie has his ride, commonly known to fans as Archie's Jalopy. If ya don't know what a jalopy means, it's an old car that's pretty junked up or doesn't look like it's in great condition.

Pep Comics #25 also sees the first appearance of Mr. Weatherbee, but it is a skinny version of the character, kind of like how Bruce Wayne's butler Alfred went from huskier and to skinny later on. There was no weight-loss issue for Mr. Weatherbee though, and he seems to magically gain weight after only an issue or so.

This issues sees Archie turning his jalopy into a taxi. When he picks up his first passenger, Archie accidentally puts him through hell and quite a few things go wrong.

The next day at school Archie discovers that his passenger from the day before is actually the new principal of Riverdale High School. Yikes!

Weatherbee is unnamed in this issue and his first official named appearance is in Jackpot Comics #5, in which he has already assumed the position of principal at Riverdale High. March, 1942 is the cover date for this issue, so it was on sale around January 15, 1942 give or take a few days perhaps.

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PEP COMICS #26
1st appearance of Veronica Lodge
6th appearance of Archie

There is no doubt that Pep Comics #26 first introduces the character of Veronica Lodge, another of Archie's main love interests. That fact is undisputed, and you can tell from the first page of the story that Veronica is being introduced as the new hottie in school that all the boys are going goo goo over.

Archie, of course, is one of them.Veronica Lodge is the "it" girl in the Archie comics. Rich and snobbish, it's a wonder how they ever painted this character in a good light or why comic fans even like her.

Veronica Lodge often looks down on those less fortunate than her, often calls the public at large "the common horde", and doesn't believe the rules apply to her. This sometimes upsets her friends.

Her father is the richest man in Riverdale and one of the most richest in the world. Thus, Veronica is spoiled and quite self-absorbed.

The character and her family were created and modeled off the prominent and political Lodge Family in New England. Bob Montana had once painted a mural for the Lodge Family and combined the last name with the first name of actress Veronica Lake.

Veronica is best-friends with Betty Cooper and also rivals. They often compete for the affections of Archie, and Veronica is often seen scheming against Betty when her and Archie are getting too close.

She will drop any date, including Reggie Mantle, if she sees Betty and Archie together. Veronica and Jughead often are less friendly towards each other but will tolerate the other for the sake of their friends.

Pep Comics #26 has the cover date of April, 1942. The on sale date is somewhere close to February 10, 1942. Hubert Smithers, the Lodge family butler also makes his debut in this issue as well.

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Whether you like or dislike Archie comics, there's no doubt that he and his gang of teens are timeless and iconic characters. Even those who aren't fans of comics know who Archie Andrews is, and the comics do have a pretty big fan base.

On the comic investment side of things, these Golden Age early appearances of Archie have been pretty sought out over the years, but has recently seen a boom in demand and value in this current comic market. They will not be easy finds or light on the bank account.

That doesn't surprise me. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't consider investing in these comics however. Yes, some will be pretty under-valued (which is always a subjective term to use), but a lot of the early appearances of the character definitely won't be.

As for the notations and placements for these comics, I've already said I'm no expert on Archie comics. I'm far from it and have no problem admitting to that.

 Also, Archie Archives vol 1 helped me to somewhat place the chronology of early Archie appearances. I figured that those at Dark Horse who released the collection of stories have better insight to which issues or stories came first better than I do. 

As I've also stated before, the later appearances after the 2nd for some may not be entirely accurate since many of them were determined by arrival dates or when the comics first hit the stands since the characters did inhabit two different titles that were sold simultaneously.

In theory, the copyright dates registered with the Library of Congress should be congruent to when an issue first went on sale, but it wouldn't surprise me if that isn't 100% accurate, especially when a comic and the publisher got bigger and published more titles. Also, I'm sure copies may have earlier arrival dates than the actual LoC copyrights.

However, what is known is that comics from this era usually were on sale two months prior to their cover dates, and the seasonal issues hit the stands during that season. That should make sense, but it isn't always the case with Archie comics.

Although there are CGC copies that note Pep Comics #23 as the 3rd appearance of Archie, they have recently noted that it is indeed the 2nd appearance of Archie. If you have one with the older label, I suggest you talk to CGC in order to get it reslabbed with the new notation.

The new price Overstreet Price Guide still fails to note Pep #23 as the 2nd appearance of Archie Andrews but they do note it was on sale in November of 1941. At least, it was in the 44th edition. I think the 2016-2017 or 46th edition of Overstreet may include the new 2nd appearance notation for Pep Comics #23.

Right now there are still those who list Jackpot Comics #4 as the 2nd appearance of Archie Andrews, so watch out for them. You won't be really getting a 2nd appearance if you do. For those who bought that comic already thinking it was the 2nd appearance. My condolences, sort of.

Sort of because it's still one of the most valuable Archie key issues out there, so it's more of a congrats than a sorry. In terms of Jackpot Comics #4 vs. Pep Comics #24 as the 3rd or 4th appearance of Archie, I have declined to take a stand for either notation since they both first hit the stands really close to each other.

Once again, I placed Jackpot #4 before Pep #24 because of how it's chronologically collected in Archie Archives volume 1, despite Pep #24 having an earlier LoC copyright registration. Pep #24 could be the 3rd appearance of Archie if it indeed hit the stands before Jackpot #4.

As I mentioned before, there is a copy of Jackpot Comics #4 with an arrival date of December 19th, and there could be copies with earlier arrival dates or not. Still, LoC copyright registration dates isn't a clear indication that issues hit the stands exactly the same time as an issues copyright registration date, but it is sort of a clue to go by.

Copies with earlier arrival dates might not be in existence anymore since the early Archie comic appearances are already pretty rare or scarce. In short and honestly, I don't have enough information or a time machine to make that call.

Anyways, there are still more Archie key issues to go through, and as usual, Part 2 is ready so just click the PART 2 link below. This will be a long one for sure. Happy Hunting and see ya soon at Part 2.



2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for making these I appreciate it :)

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    Replies
    1. No problem Gabriel. I apologize for not getting around to it sooner.

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