Lots of seasonal shopping humor in the latest issue of Archie’s Funhouse Comics Digest, the still-newish all-purpose Archie anthology book that comes out nearly monthly and is already 10 issues old. Opening story has Reggie giving the same expensive gift to five female classmates, who, in Betty’s words, look “like they’re going to be giving Reggie his lumps” when they discover he meant to give them cheap knock-offs instead of the real thing. They’re mad, see, because his INTENTIONS were dishonorable, even though he actually did give them the pricey versions by accident. It’s the thought that counts. In the reprint “The Dirty Dozen,” Veronica falls asleep under a heat lamp after watching a hysterical TV commercial for Eetdirt cleaning products, and dreams that Christmas is being replaced by Brand X items of equal value. There are numerous other commercialization-of-Christmas tales in the digest, plus some basic old Archie adventures with no seasonal theme whatever, like “Footloose,” in which Archie goes to a school dance in mismatched shoes—one platform and one loafer. Those non-timebound stories may be the greatest gift of all.
Archie and the gang have an ongoing relationship with things magical and supernatural. Sabrina, sure, and the zombie book. But also, every Christmas, manifestations of a real, live Santa Claus and his devoted elf Jingles.
Lesser known in the Archie Christmas universe is Sugar Plum, a female fairy who hangs around with Betty & Veronica. She helps trim Veronica’s massive Christmas tree, “straight from the forests of Norway,” in Betty and Veronica Double Digest #217 (December 2013). That same digest features a Sabrina story, “When Cows Fly,” featuring still more elves, plus some Santa-assisting sorcery so that reindeers (and cows, and whales) can fly.
Got Afterlife With Archie #7 in the mail the other day.This is one of those comics that may already have fallen off the radar for those who saw it simply in terms of the sensational press release that greeted the release of its first issue.
Yes, it’s an Archie comic that’s not for kids. My daughters understand that without having to ask. There’s no curiosity. They get that it’s not for them. But they also get that there are grown-ups like me who’ve been reading Archie all their lives. There are Batman comics for them, and others for me. They get that. Those are those out there in the world who want to make some big shallow deal out of the fact that there’s an Archie comic not for kids, but those folks should really read Afterlife With Archie and they’ll see how well it works. The storyline’s only gotten stronger after the initial shock of seeing the teens of Riverdale (and their pets) devour each other. There are Lovecraftian underpinnings that have emerged in the saga. The early issues was threatening to become one very long chase scene.
Though it could be said to take place in a separate, realist-yet-supernatural Archie universe, where the inhabitants of Riverdale are more sexually aware and more psychologically unstable, Afterlife With Archie is nonetheless full of respect for the Archie legacy. It doesn’t create new characters, populating its horror tales with established Riverdale citizens major and minor. I’m actually surprised that, given the relentless and consistent doom and gloom that writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has applied to Afterlife With Archie for seven severe issues now, that Riverdale cult figure Jinx Malloy and his perpetual dark cloud of disaster have not made an appearance yet.
Afterlife With Archie book that continues to grow, and apparently continues to be successful. It’s been repackaged in book and magazine formats and has inspired another dark-humored adult-oriented Archie title, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This is not a one-off, or a gimmick. It’s not like Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl Psycho Killer self-parody book. It’s an ongoing adventure with style and merit. It may have come late to the now-largely-passed zombie trend that saturated the early 2010s with blood, but it has deserved to live beyond that passing phase and build its own grisly teen death story in its own sweet time.
Took Archie Comics Super Special to task Friday for rerunning dozens of pages from other current Archie products. While I do not approve of this policy, I should add that one of the books Archie Comics Super Special cribs from—the thick trade-paperback anthology The Best of Archie Comics Book Four—is one of the best Archie collections to have been released in recent years (and there’ve been so many). Not only does it contain the masterpiece “Quiet on the Set,” it has the 1971 Everything’s Archie #16 cover story “Summer Prayer for Peace,” in which Archie and Jughead receive their draft notifications and argue with token Riverdale hippie “Clyde” over whether or not they should burn their draft cards. They opt instead to hold a big outdoor Archies concert instead, at which they sing “Summer Prayer for Peace”—an actual real-world Archies single, found on the album Sunshine.
There’s a lot more to recommend in Archie Comics Book Four, but “Quiet on the Set” and “Summer Prayer for Peace” are worth the ten bucks right there.
Here’s how to tell the difference between Archie Giant Comics Festival, Archie 1000 Page Comics Explosion and Archie’s Favorite Christmas Comics:
• AFCC is slightly taller.
- A1KPCE is thickest.
- AGCF is midsized, with 400 pages to AFCC’s 480 and A1KPCE’s 1000.
- The “Favorite Comics” series (previously The Best of Archie Comics) is the most intensely curated of the lot, with text intros to the stories and info about which exact issues the stories came from. It also draws from every era of Archie, back to the early 1940s, while the “Giant” and “1000” page series tend to go back only as far as the late ‘50s.
- The 1000 Page books tend to have such generic Archie/Betty/Veronica cover art that I often can’t tell if I already have the latest one.
- Besides being an “Explosion,” Archie 1000 Page Comics has been a “Jamboree,” a “Bonanza,” a “Celebration” and a “Comics-Palooza.”
There. It’s only slightly easier than telling Betty from Veronica.