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Comic Review: Archie: The Best Of Dan DeCarlo, Volume 4
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Archie: The Best Of Dan DeCarlo, Volume 4Archie: The Best Of Dan DeCarlo, Volume 4
Written by Frank Doyle, Dick Malmgren and George Gladir
Art by Dan DeCarlo
Letters by Vince DeCarlo, Victor Gorelick and Bill Yoshida
Colors by Unknown
Covers by Dan DeCarlo
IDW Publishing
Release Date: March 19, 2013
Cover Price: $24.99

The latest installment of the reprinting of Dan DeCarlo‘s exquisite rendering of the comic strip Archie is now available.

To put this comic into perspective, the late 1950s pint sized pop singer Frankie Lymon once waxed “I’m not a juvenile delinquent,” speaking of course about his exile from the rambunctious lifestyles that teenaged leather jacketed and Brycreemed up hair exhibited, getting in run ins and scraps with the law at every turn they could, purposely and accidentally. Someone of that era who could easily have echoed Lymon’s words was the comic book character Archie, who lived a teenage lifestyle right out of the universe of the old Andy Hardy series which starred Mickey Rooney way back when, living idyllic lifestyles of innocuous, clean cut fun, skirt chasing and being chased. While Archie may have been furthest from the complex young characters immortalized on the sliver screen by people like Marlon Brando and James Dean during the 1950s, he still lived a life where he constantly got into trouble, albeit of the fun loving, devil-may-care variety.

The saga of Archie has been in comic book form for decades and decades now, starting in the mid 1950s and stretching over the centuries into the present day. Dan DeCarlo, the preeminent artist of the Archie series during the second half of the 20th Century, was responsible for the contemporary look and style of the red headed teenaged youth, as well as all the other characters in the series, the dimwitted Jughead, antagonistically brash Reggie, the out-of-touch slightly with the current generation school employees Ms. Grundy and Principal, Mr. Weatherbee and of course, Betty and Veronica, both of whom vied for Archie’s affections passionately, exhaustively and extremely competitively, Veronica by way of an early version of the rich diva strategy and bitchy streak in her temperament, contrasted nicely by Betty by way of a down to earth, innocent, what you see is what you get personality.

All of these characters and the situations that get manifested from the interconnecting of said characters (and more) are housed in this nice collection, the 4th, from IDW Publishing, showcasing the art of DeCarlo. All of the stories included in the collection (20 in all), were scanned from the original art and were originally published during the 1960s, but they are timeless in their innocuous, yet irresistibly charming narratives which are hilarious and light, and could have been published at any time. Very little trappings of the decade are even mentioned, and thus, there is nothing dated much about the stories or the comics, save for the absence of smart phones and fetishes for social media which today’s Archie stories would no doubt include.

In addition to the Archie tales, there’s also the inclusion of some Josie stories, pre-musical Pussycats mode, although the gregarious and gorgeous Melody seems to steal every scene she’s in, even though Josie is the titular character. Rounding out the collection are some Sabrina The Teenage Witch stories, including the very first one ever printed. DeCarlo takes his art style, which is basic and rather simple on the Archie stories, but the simplicity adds the just right feel to the characters and situations, and turns it up a notch for the Sabrina tales, with little bit more sharper rendering, although still firmly etched in the DeCarlo style seen in the earlier stories. A fun collection of “Pin-Ups,” which were a staple of the Archie comic book series, are also included.

Archie: The Best Of Dan DeCarlo, Volume 4 is an endearing collection that will for sure give hours of reading pleasure to the fans who grew up with these comics originally and the new generation, who can discover the totally absorbing and outstanding work from the pen and inkwell of Dan Decarlo.

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