Hallowe’en Countdown IV, Day 2

« What is this ‘witch’s brew‘? Oh, that’s a special! It’s a squirt of everything! » — Pop Tate divulges one of his culinary secrets

A little while back (okay, quite a while back!), upon reading an article written by cartoonist Seth (John Stanley’s Teen Trilogy, The Comics Journal no. 238, Oct. 2001), this passage especially piqued my interest: « I have to admit right now that I like Archie comics quite a bit and I have hundreds of issues of Archie and its various spin-off titles. I can even tell you which years are the good years (1959 to ’65, incidentally) ».

As it happens, I’m in full agreement with the gallant Mister Gallant : this was when Archie’s Mad House and Tales Calculated to Drive You Bats came along, when Bob White (and Samm Schwartz, and Orlando Busino) were producing scads of wild and wooly covers featuring ghouls and bug-eyed critters, mole men and mad (though I’m told they prefer ‘eccentric’) scientists and sundry extraterrestrials and witches. The line’s cover layout was also nicely open, affording the artists plenty of latitude to indulge themselves. Here are some samples from the aforementioned creators at the peak of their formidable powers, before the end-of-recess bell rang and stifling homogeneity was henceforth imposed.

This is Laugh no. 130 (Jan. 1962, Archie); cover by Samm Schwartz. Looks like our friend Ricou Browning is slumming it in Riverdale, with Betty happily showing him the sights. Honestly, he’s more of a gentleman that Archie ever was.
This is Tales Calculated to Drive You Bats no. 2 (Jan. 1962, Archie); cover by the incomparable Orlando Busino, still with us and nearly 94 years young! I strongly suspect that these witchy younglings mean mystical business!
This is Archie no. 125 (Feb. 1962, Archie); cover by Harry Lucey, one of the crucial classic Archie artists. Regardless of what you’ve heard, look at the actual sales figures for 1969, with Lucey drawing every issue of Archie. Readers voted with their wallet.
Here’s a swell example: Pep Comics no. 158 (Oct. 1962). Spooky cover art by local favourite Bob White. I wouldn’t have pegged Archie as a skeptic, to be honest.
This is Life With Archie no. 39 (July 1965, Archie); cover, again, by Mr. White. The previous year had seen the TV arrival of The Addams Family and its imitators, The Munsters. So what’s one carbon copy more or less?

-RG

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