For many people, Archie Andrews remains firmly embedded in childhood, the star of endless comics surrounding love triangles, homework excuses and days at the beach. But everyone has to grow up, and apparently in the world of Archie Comics, even their main character has to die.
As reported by CNN, in the upcoming July 16 issue, #36, of "Life With Archie," Andrews will die heroically to save a friend. The series followed Andrews as an adult, married to either Betty or Veronica in parallel storylines, and was targeted toward more mature readers. Recent storylines have included a shooting at the mall, as well as a controversial gay wedding, in order to be relevant to modern times.
Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater told MTV, "We made the decision that in this universe, in the 'Life With Archie' universe, the way for it end, and end in a manner that's consistent with 75 years of what Archie is all about, and what he stands for. The way to do that was for Archie to die."
The series will continue with one further issue published a month afterwards, showing the rest of the Riverdale gang mourning their friend and continuing on with their lives a year later. As writer Paul Kupperberg explained to Comic Book Resources, "After all these years, we thought readers would want and need closure, kind of like a memorial service where anybody can stand up and talk about the dearly departed."
As Goldwater notes, the comic series that focuses on high-school age Archie will continue as it has since the 1940s. The company also produces "Afterlife with Archie," a separate, zombie-oriented take on Riverdale, which is releasing its fifth issue next week.
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this story, it incorrectly stated that "Life With Archie" would continue. Issue #37, following Archie's death, will be the last one in the series. The error has been corrected.
Also on HuffPost:
1. TALES FROM THE CRYPT
TALES FROM THE CRYPT, a prime “whipping boy” of Dr. Frederic Wertham, was the flagship of the EC line, a horror comic book that went kept topping itself in outrageous gore and black humor. Publisher William Gaines loved the old horror radio shows like Lights Out and Inner Sanctum. He and editor/writer Al Feldstein put together a top team of artists who could convey on paper the kinds of images radio listeners had conjured in their imaginations. Here is a typically grisly cover by the great Jack Davis, later a superstar cartoonist at Gaines’<em> Mad </em>magazine as well as a noted movie poster artist.
2. FRONTLINE COMBAT
FRONTLINE COMBAT was never a big seller for EC Comics, with its adult, often anti-war point-of-view. Dr. Wertham didn’t have much to say about EC’s war comics, but somebody at the Pentagon didn’t approve, because <em>Frontline</em> and the similarly war-weary <em>Two-Fisted Tales</em> disappeared from PX’s. The genius behind both titles was Harvey Kurtzman (who drew this particular cover), the writer/artist who would go on to create <em>Mad,</em> though he left shortly after the magazine version replaced the comic book, in a disagreement with publisher William Gaines over creator’s rights. Kurtzman – whose later career revolved around the racy “Little Annie Fanny,” courtesy of comics buff Hugh Hefner – is revered by the medium’s fans and professionals as one of its greatest proponents.
3. CRIME DOES NOT PAY
CRIME DOES NOT PAY, while not a horror comic book, was heavy on horrific elements, and featured a “host” to the stories, Mr. Crime, who predates those of the EC horror line, including most famously the Crypt-Keeper of <em>Tales from the Crypt.</em> This pioneering “true crime” comic book was hugely successful, selling six million issues per month at its height, but pushing the boundaries of good taste with far less artistry than the EC line. Editor/artist Charles Biro, whose actual drawing may have been limited to perfecting his cartoony signature, favored startling covers, like this kidnapping-themed one with its uncomfortable suggestion of pedophilia. Famous criminals like Baby Face Nelson and Machine Gun Kelly appeared, but most stories were of obscure criminals and many may have been fabricated. Key artist Bob Wood later murdered a girl friend and ultimately was killed by gangsters, but too late to help Wertham’s cause.
4. CRIME SUSPENSTORIES
CRIME SUSPENSTORIES was EC’s contribution to the “crime does not pay” genre, though it eschewed true crime for pulp tales where criminal protagonists met ironic ends, not unlike the unfortunate main characters in their horror yarns. The lead story was usually written and drawn by one of EC’s most restrained contributors, Johnny Craig, whose stories of murderous marital infidelity drew upon James M. Cain. That a cover (seen here) from the normally rather subtle Craig became Dr. Wertham’s prime exhibit at the 1954 anti-comics Senate hearing is an irony worthy of any EC story. Appearing voluntarily as a witness, an exhausted William Gaines in a Captain Queeq-like meltdown defended the cover’s good taste, pointing out that the art cut off the bloodier portion of the decapitation, sealing the fate of EC and comic books in general.
5. PHANTOM LADY
PHANTOM LADY was typical of what Dr. Wertham termed “headlights” comic books, in reference to the prominent bosoms of selected female characters. Bosomy “babes” were no stranger to comic strips – Milton Caniff’s Dragon Lady and Al Capp’s Daisy Mae were welcomed into homes all across America in the ‘40s and ‘50s – but Wertham conveniently ignored comic strips, because powerful newspapers published them. The scattershot comic-book industry was a better, safer target. That such pin-up-style images were clearly not intended for younger children, but for older readers familiar with not only Terry and the Pirates and Li’l Abner but George Petty and Alberto Vargas, was lost on the good doctor. Phantom Lady is a highly collectible comic book today, not only because of its now-campy “good girl art,” but because of chief artist Matt Baker, a rare and much admired African-American cartoonist of the ‘40s and ‘50s.
6. ACTION COMICS
ACTION COMICS starring Superman might seem like harmless entertainment for kids of all ages, though early on it was fairly violent, as this cover demonstrates. But Dr. Wertham’s objection had to do with what he perceived as a glorification of the Nazi superman, and to him “Supe” was just a fascist in tights and a cape. Though <em>Superman</em> (in <em>Action Comics </em>and his own title) survived the comic-book purge, the character would be the subject of countless alarmist urban legends about children tying towels around their necks like a cape and jumping off a tall building. Bestselling mystery writer Mickey Spillane, who scripted <em>Captain America </em>and <em>The Human Torch</em> in the ‘40s, once colorfully said, “If any kid did that, there was a good reason for it – he was an idiot.”
BATMAN was second only to Superman in popularity – at least after DC Comics forced the demise of Captain Marvel, on a trumped-up charge of plagiarism – with an appeal based in part on his real-world lack of super powers. In addition to this Zorro-like “caped crusader” approach, Batman had a kid sidekick in Robin, actually Bruce Wayne’s ward Dick Grayson, which was very appealing to boys in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Robin became something of an embarrassment to serious-minded fans of later decades, particularly when the <em>Batman </em>TV show ribbed itself. All Dr. Wertham saw, back in 1954, was perversity – a man was living with a boy, and that meant the comic book was peddling the joys of homosexuality. The image here, in the style often attributed to creator Bob Kane (writer Bill Finger is now considered co-creator), is the work of the great Dick Sprang.
8. WONDER WOMAN
WONDER WOMAN found Dr. Wertham seeing the “threat” of homosexuality again, with an added dose of bondage and other sado-masochistic imagery. In the latter case, the doc may have been right – ironically, <em>Wonder Woman</em>’s creator was a psychiatrist himself: William Moulton Marston. Writing as Charles Moulton, Marston was an eccentric feminist, living as the husband to two wives in one relationship, and preaching the benefits of submission via bondage. Wonder Woman uses a lariat that is a sort of lie detector (Marston was involved in the invention of the lie detector!) with obvious bondage implications. Wertham’s lesbian take on the character stemmed from Wonder Woman living on an island of Amazons. However kinky the comic book may have been, it was an early and rare example of a strong female protagonist in a world of muscular men in tights. Maybe Wertham was right about Superman and Batman....
9. DICK TRACY
DICK TRACY seemed to get a free pass on the funny pages of major newspapers. But when Chester Gould’s ultra-violent detective story, famous for grotesque villains worthy of any horror comic, was turned into a comic book, it regularly made the <em>Parents Magazine</em> list of publications unsuitable for children. Most comic books were original material, but <em>DICK TRACY</em> reprinted the comic strip, reformatted to comic-book layouts. Gould did extreme violence but sparingly in his day-to-day storytelling. So a comic book cover like this one – depicting the conclusion of the tale (talk about “Spoiler Alert”) – focuses on a particularly violent moment from the newspaper-strip continuity. Gould was famous for the laser-beam-like trajectory lines of bullets that pierced and exited bad guys (and, sometimes, good guys). After the Comics Code Authority came in, <em>TRACY</em> was heavily censored and was gone from comic-book racks in a few years.
ZAP is perhaps the most famous of the Underground Comix born of the ‘60s “hippie” years. Sold primarily in “head” shops, comix were an outrageous reaction by kids of the ‘50s – now in their twenties or older – to the watering-down of comic books by Dr. Wertham and his minions. No holds were barred – drug use, graphic sexuality, grotesque violence, profanity – in a kick-out-the-jams fashion that established, before the graphic novel came along to offer respectability, that comics were not inherently kid’s stuff. Comix were to DC Comics and even Marvel what rock ‘n’ roll was to Patti Page and Frank Sinatra. The artists responsible included at least two geniuses – R. Crumb (<em>Mr. Natural, Fritz the Cat</em>) and Gilbert Shelton (W<em>onder Wart Hog, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers</em>). Other top comix talents included Trina Robbins, Spain Rodriguez, Jay Lynch and S. Clay Wilson, among many uninhibited others.
11. MS. TREE
<em>MS. TREE</em>, created by myself and Terry Beatty, was one of the indie comic book that emerged in the 1970s and ‘80s, as comic-book shops sprang into existence. Inspired by the freedom of Underground Comix, comic-book creators – some already working in mainstream comics, as well as new talent – began coming up with their own titles, comic books clearly intended for a teenage-and-up audience. In November 1986, in Lansing, Illinois, Friendly Frank’s comic book shop was busted for selling (among others) <em>Omaha the Cat, Heavy Metal, Love & Rockets,</em> and <em>Ms. Tree</em>. The bondage theme depicted above wasn’t why <em>Ms. Tree</em> got busted – the issue contained nudity – the “Spirit of Justice” statue at the Justice Department (later censored again by Attorney General John Ashcroft). Manager Frank Mangiaracina was sentenced to a year in prison, but thanks to the efforts of what would become the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Friendly Frank won on appeal.
"Seduction of the Innocent"
<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/1469262770">Out now! </a>