So you think you know Archie?

So you think you know Archie?

Think again.

Archie first appeared in 1941, in the 22nd issue of PEP, a comic by MLJ Publications (the company which would later be renamed to Archie Comics). No one had any idea he would be as popular as he would become (and if the art had remained the same, he might not have), he was little more than a filler strip at this point. The character designs are not even close to what we’re familiar with. Don’t believe me? Look for yourself:

That’s Archie, and Betty. Hard to believe, isn’t it? While they’re depicted as being in their late teens in the more familiar version, in this they seem to be around 12 years old. Another oddity is that Archibald doesn’t like to be called “Archie”, he’d rather be called “Chick” (because, you know, all dudes like to be called chicks…).

Jughead also features in this story. He does have a few of his trademark characteristics, such as the “S” sweater, the beanie, and hating girls. However, there is no indication of his love for food, and he is drawn as decidedly muscular instead of the beanpole we see today:

This first Archie story involves Betty moving into the nighborhood for the first time, and Archie (Chick) trying to impress her. One of Archie’s defining characteristics does manifest itself here, his clumsiness. Each of his attempts to impress Betty wind up enraging her father instead.

You can read this 6-page story by clicking the thumbnails below:


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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Great bit of comic history. Amazing how much “fitter” they both seem to be. “Chick’s” upper body is shaped like a yield sign.

  2. Great post, Drahken! I truly thought for a second that Jughead had pulled a switchblade in that panel. While I liked this first appearance of Archie…I think I’m still a fan of the gang from Riverdale as we see them today.

  3. These early issues of PEP, as well as some other MLJ (pre-archie comics) publications have fallen into the public domain. You can freely download the whole issue here: Archie appears in #22 and later of PEP, and issue 5 and later of jackpot. All the comics on that site are public domain now.

  4. Nice find. I read Archie comics and it’s interesting to see this. Heard a Archie radio show from the 50s… That was bad.

  5. Yeah, I’ve tried to listen to the archie OTR show a few times, but I always wind up stopping halfway. The various incarnations of the filmation archie cartoon were pretty good, too bad DiC’s “new archies” was crap on a stick.
    There was also a pilot for a live action TV series in the 60s:

  6. There was an Archie Digest issue from 2007 commemorating the 65th anniversary of Arhice, and it had that early story plus others from the years showing Archie’s evoluion.

    It’s “Archie Digest” issue #236 (Sept. 2007) if anyone’s interested.

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