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CSBG Archive

365 Reasons to Love Comics #145

Bob Week continues with a look at a Bob who created one of the longest-lasting characters and franchises in comics history. And it ain’t the fellow from Sunday.

Oh, and the archive is here.

5/25/07

145. Bob Montana

Bob Montana 1.jpg

I was speaking, of course, of Bob Montana, the creator of Archie Andrews and all his pals. Bob’s is not a name you hear flinging about the comics industry– in fact, I’d be surprised if many comic readers know who created Archie.

Raised on the vaudeville circuit, young Bob was surrounded by all sorts of wacky humor, which only served to hone his comedy skills for later use in the comics business. And lo, in 1941, in the back pages of MLJ’s Pep Comics #22, he debuted Archie and the gang, based on people he knew from the town of Haverhill, Massachusetts (the story was written by Vic Bloom, however). Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, and even Pop Tate and his Chocklit Shoppe were apparently all patterned after real people.

Archie soon proved more popular than the lead feature of Pep, the Shield, and quickly took over Pep Comics, as well as launching his own series. Bob ceased being the primary artist and turned it over to a staff of several. World War II rolled around and Bob joined up. Upon his return, he started the Archie newspaper strip and drew it until his death in 1975.

Bob Montana 2.jpgBob Montana 3.jpg

(“Refund your nickel?” So that what the kids were calling it in those days.)

Originally, Archie was a funny looking kid with gigantic buck teeth. No idea what the ladies saw in him. As you can see, Betty and her fellow females were drawn as foxy as possible. Mr. Montana’s cartooning became smoother and more stylized over time, giving way to the more standard Archie style we’re used to today (though Dan DeCarlo solidified it).

Now, we hardcore comic nerds might not appreciate Archie as much as we should, but by God, Archie’s still out there, still selling, still helping kids learn to read with its family-friendly light-hearted storytelling. There’s debate over who’s the most create-y creator in the Archie mythos, with the credit shifting in various directions, but I think it’s safe to say Bob Montana is a Reason to Love Comics thanks to his contributions to the medium we so dearly adore.

What do the Archie experts out there think? I know there must be a few of you.

7 Comments

Aside from the potentially scarring attitudes that the kids have towards dating and gender roles in general, Archie comics work really well for getting kids into reading comics. Their digest formats are great for an affordable read, although they do tend to reprint everything within months of each other, so you sometimes get the same story several times in one year… or, uh, so I hear, if I were to buy said digests.

Montana is a good pick.

That cover with the “refund your nickel” remark is so scandalous I can’t believe it made it past the censors. That chick is reclining on a couch with her breasts in the air, and she invites him over for, as you put it, a “refund” of his “nickel.” Holy cow! No wonder Archie is so popular!

hifidigitalboy

May 26, 2007 at 10:33 am

I never knew what Archie saw in Veronica. I’ve always been a Betty man and that cover just reinforced my opinion.

Now, back to the subject at hand. Bob Montana definitely deserves the credit for creating a great set of characters. I remember reading Archie comics when I was little. They were among my very first comics. Bravo, Bob Montana!

The Kirbydotter

May 26, 2007 at 5:43 pm

Good call!
This is exactly the kind of unsung hero that columns of this type should raise awareness on.

The 40s, 50s, 60s Archie are my favorites, and Bob Montana was a big part of this.

stealthwise all of our digets reprint stories are at least 5 years old. From time to time we do reprint only the best stories and only those that are at least 5 years old. We feel that in 5 years, a lot of our readers have gone on to read other material. If you can find a story that is less than 5 years old, please bring it to my attention. We never “reprint everything within months of each other”, so you will never “get the same story several times in one year”. If you or anyone else has any examples please let me know.

Rik Offenberger
Public Relations Coordinator
Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
riko@archiecomics.com

Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
325 Fayette Ave.
Mamaroneck, New York 10543
Phone 914-381-5155
Fax 914-381-2335
http://www.archiecomic.com

as a kid, i never did understand the old 40’s, 50’s, 60’s Archie. I thought the drawings were very dark and to complicated. I loved colour and the newer stories were the ones that pleased me the best. But as I come to understand Bob Montana’s humour, I find them to be the most hilarious and ingenious comics I have ever read. He is so witty yet so sneaky that you are required to pause and go, “hold on a sec, that was truly funny”.and that betty cover just made me break out in a fit of laughter.

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