Monday, July 11, 2011

Number 980

Bob Montana's Archie

This is the oldest Archie comic book story I have. It's by Bob Montana, from Pep Comics #31, 1942. From a humble beginning as a backup strip Archie took over the MLJ Comics line, and probably in the nick of time. As a reader turned the page of this issue from the last page of Archie he came across a Paul Reinman "Bentley of Scotland Yard" page showing a corpse impaled on a church steeple, dripping blood. MLJ cleaned up its act a lot with Archie, and probably had more than a few critics of the violent, gore-dripping comics of its wilder years before the publishers turned the company over to the Riverdale gang, and the pre-teen/teenage readers.

Montana, who drew Archie until the end of his life at age 54 (too young!) in 1975, did the newspaper comic strip version, which I read religiously. My newspaper dropped the strip shortly after Montana's death. I've included some early Archie newspaper strip originals by Montana I found on Heritage Auctions.

In this story we have the first appearance of Veronica's dad, Mr. Lodge.


Booksteve said...

One of many good things that came out of my working on the recent coffee table history of ARCHIE was a whole new respect for Bob Montana! My wife got me the also-recent Bob Montana collection, also from IDW, for Christmas. The man's work blossomed very quickly when the Riverdale gang came along and he went on to make that newspaper strip his own, paying little or no attention to the parallel comic book version over the years. He never looked back. One of the later comic book creators said that when Montana made one of his rare trips to the Archie offices in later years, he was treated like visiting royalty.

Pappy said...

I found the Archie comic strip by Montana funnier than the comic books. I don't know if he wrote the comic strip. While I liked the comic books when reading them regularly in the late '50s-early '60s I saw the comic books and comic strip as two different entities with the same characters.

Mykal said...

Pap: you are the man. Great Bob Montana!!

Pappy said...

Thanks, Mykal.

Unca Jeffy said...

I sometimes feel that Bob Montana and Dan DeCarlo got me through puberty. And relatively unscathed, at that.