Archie Andrews and his pals are a timeless and yet timely reflection of American society. The Best Of Archie Comics Book 4 presents a parade of more than 60 years of changing fashions and drawing styles….yet little of the humor in the stories is tethered to any particular era. In “Photo Finish” by Bill Vigoda (1947), Veronica has a look more based on glamour illustrations of the 30s, while in “Dance Crazy” by Frank Doyle, Harry Lucey and Marty Epp (1966) she has a more familiar look.But the jokes could switch eras with no loss of humor. Lucey, by the way, is a much loved cartoonist whose influence on Jaime Hernandez you can see in his limber, lively shapes and expressions.
In 1958's “Say it With Flour” by Dan DeCarlo, the quintessential Archie artist, Archie and Jughead mess up a cooking contest in a way that would seem just as funny today, although the final gag would probably be deemed insensitive to disabled veterans and pirates.
In modern times, shown in “Pick Me Up” by Kathleen Webb, Dan DeCarlo and Henry Scarpelli (2000) and “The Clod of Thunder” by Tom DeFalco, Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, John Workman and Digilore Studios (2013), modern coloring, welcome multi-cultural references and Betty and Veronica having their say over who gets to show them attention update the situations, but the essential characters are the same.
As Mark Waid writes in one of the intros, “Archie and his cast of characters have, over the years, been refined to a razor-edge of comedy and characterization by the dozens of writers and artists who’ve contributed to his canon.”
Best of Archie Comics Book 4 goes on sale today and includes more than 400 pages of comics and introductions by Stephen King, Lena Dunham and many more.