Thursday, September 9, 2010

Archie's Pal, Bob Montana!

Admittedly our hobby is dominated by the Superhero, Horror /Sci-Fi and Action/Adventure genres. However one of the most enduring icons in comics history is an unassuming young man named Archie Andrews, the brain child of one of the most gifted artists ever to grace comics, Bob Montana.

At the age of 21 Montana created the character of Archie Andrews for the December 1942 issue (#22) of PEP comics and soon would be the lead artist on Archie Comics. Montana had a whimsical and sexy style that was very much influenced by the pin up art of the era. His basic character designs are still closely followed over 60 years later.

Bob Montana knew he wanted to be a cartoonist from the age of seven. Traveling to vaudeville houses in all 48 states before the age of nine, he received his childhood schooling backstage in theater dressing rooms, where he also learned about comedy and humor writing. Montana’s family owned a restaurant in New Hampshire. Bob Montana practiced his cartooning by drawing caricatures of the restaurant's customers. Montana would take this whimsical approach to Archie and his supporting cast that includes the lovelorn Betty Cooper, the wealthy and beautiful veronica Lodge, best pal Jughead Jones and constant rival Reggie Mantle.

While the Archie universe is clearly cartoonish and over the top, Montana hit upon many of the essential and timeless aspects of being a teenager that resonate in every generation. He turned a humorous eye to the mine field that is high school, the obstacle course that it first love and the politics of friendship.

Montana’s creation has spun off no less than fifty titles directly related to Archie and his cast over the years . Currently the Archie cast appears in Archie, Archie And friends, Betty, Betty And Veronica, Veronica, Archie’s Pal Jughead and many others. Not a bad legacy for a high school kid from Riverdale and a comic strip artist from New Hampshire.
I dare say that there is not a comic collector out there who NEVER read an Archie comic as a child. So every now and then, when the whole universe blowing up thing gets a bit tiring. Pick up an Archie comic and visit a few old friends. I know I will!

That’s 30!


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