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: