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The Great Archie Comics Experiment of 1989-90!

I’ve spoken about this in the past, but I think it bears repeating! It is rare to see a comic company be as risky as Archie Comics was in 1989 and 1990, when they began a gigantic launch of brand-new titles, and not only new titles – but new titles unlike any comic they were currently producing!

While the launches were almost all failures (except for one title that they revamped to be more like their other comics), they were noble failures, and I applaud them for their attempts!

Want to see them? Well, then

Archie already tried something a bit different when it gave the popular back-up feature, Betty’s Diary, it’s own comic book. Betty’s Diary was a great series (I know I’ve written about it before) – it took a much more realistic look at problems, but all from a sincere and, well, NICE approach.

I know the great Kathleen Webb wrote a bunch of the issues – I am not as familiar with the other writers (Webb occasionally still does Betty’s Diary bits in Betty’s ongoing series).

But that was nothing compared to some of the out-there titles that Archie Comics tried out during 1989-1990!

There was Archie 3000, a series about Archie and the gang in the future…

There was Jughead’s Diner, probably the most ambitious of all the books, where Jughead is in charge of an inter-dimensional diner.

There was a TV series using that concept about that same time, no?

There was another Jughead spin-off comic, this time involving time travel…

Meanwhile, in Jughead’s OWN comic, Archie experimented by having storylines involving Jughead dating…

A comic featuring the teachers at Riverdale High School as superheroes?!?

‘Fraid so!

It was not just the faculty who got the spotlight!

So did Dilton…

AND Jughead’s dog, Hot Dog!

Probably the cheesiest of the bunch was a not-so-experimental series that seemed like it was just to cash in on some licensing fees…

Boy, that looks awful.

All of these titles were quite short-lived (even Jughead’s dating life was short-lived – there was a hilarious story – hilarious in an awkward way – where Jughead determines he can’t date – he’s just not ready).

The lone exception was Veronica…

The series had a novel approach – take Veronica to a different place each issue!!

Great idea – but didn’t last two long, in less than two years, it was just a standard comic book, however, it’s the only one of the launches of the Great Archie Experiment of 1989-90 that is still coming out, so that’s something!

Anyhow, congrats, Archie Comics! Good to see risks being taken!

The experimental nature DOES continue today, what with the “Dynamic Look” experiment, the super-successful Sabrina manga experiment, plus the new format for Betty and Veronica Spectacular, where Dan Parent has turned it more into a magazine than a comic book.

Good work, Archie Comics!

44 Comments

I guess I was reading Archie around that time, because I remember about half of those. I always thought Dilton was a good character, although “Faculty Funnies” I seem to recall as being pretty awful.

It’s good to see that the mullet is still in style in the year 3000.

I bought “Hot Dog”, “Faculty Funnies”, and “Jughead-time police”. The Jughead one had a pretty funny gag about Jughead asking who Archie ended up marrying, Betty or Veronica, and not finding out due to unforeseen time traveling action. I really liked the Hot Dog comic, he had a group of friends some high tech gear his own “bat cave”. i remember nothing about “Faculty Follies”, like nothing. Sweet highlight! thanks for letting me reminisce.

I think the spin off efforts work best in the digests. An Archie 3000 story in a digest or double digest is fun. A whole book of them would probably not be.

Does the cover to Jughead: The Soap Opera actually have a transvestite on it? Because it sure looks like it does.

The Mad Monkey

June 20, 2008 at 12:13 pm

Dave…
I believe the “transvestite” you could be referring to is most likely “Big” Ethel. During that time, they also tried to give her a makeover and still attempt to keep her mutt-ugly.

That’s no transvestite! That’s Big Ethel!

I think that looks like Archie in drag and Reggie in drag. Which honestly, makes that the most interesting cover in my opinion.

Glad to see this era getting some appreciation. I had a ton of these. They were what got me into comics in the first place. Jughead’s Pal Hot Dog was the first comic that I made a point to buy every issue. I was re-reading a few issues recently, and Hot Dog still makes me laugh, which is more than I can say for a lot of the humor comics I bought at the time. And don’t forget, Jughead’s Time Police had amazing art by Gene Colan in most of the issues. As a kid, I could tell that it looked different than the typical Archie comic, but didn’t know who Gene Colan or what else he had done. It’s a shame that Archie comics wasn’t able to continue most of these series past 5 or 6 issues…

“Cross-Country RC Car Rally?” That would be hell on Archie and Reggie’s feet. Unless they got into cars… to follow their toy cars…

I think I’m dead now.

Brian,

Are the scans from your personal collection?

I remember all of these from ads in the digests at the time. A lot of ‘em look brilliant, but I’ve never read any.

If I remember right, that first issue of Jughead’s Time Police had time travel, the Civil War, the future, clones, romance, and ghosts. No decompression there. :) I think most of the time police stories were recently reprinted in the digests. Have not seen the Hot Dog ones. Those look like fun.

I wasn’t interested in those at the time, but the future/time travel/dimesional ones I’d love to see today.

i use to read archie as a kid, could never quite understand why betty liked him. veronica, who would tease him, would never accept him into her life full time[ she was more the reggie type] . yes a a 10 year old, it was all very suspicious to me. i think judhead was a bi-sexual, as everyone liked him.

i have come across a large amount of comic books i was wondering if anybody that knew about comic books could give me a rough price for the lot my email is ollyw82@googlemail.com email me and i’ll email you the list which i have put into an excel document

Okay, based solely on that cover, I want a full run of Jughead’s Time Police. The fact that Gene Colan apparently drew some of it is just gravy, really.

pototheosetotheer

June 20, 2008 at 8:55 pm

After 3 months without the internet, it is refreshing to know that these blogs are still lame.

Wow… This takes me back. I remember “Jughead’s Diner” and “Archie 3000″. I was a huge Archie fan back in the day, picking up every digest & double digest I could get my hands out (only one double digest has survived the years with me). Thanks for the reminder of good times!

hi im princess yingyou can call me princess

hi you can call me princessying

Jughead’s Time Police was a lot of fun, despite his 30th century timecop partner January McAndrews being very sexy (I was 11) while still strongly resembling her ancestor Archie (I had some issues to work out).

This post reminds me of the period where Jughead got a skateboard and cornrows, but all a quick googling reveals is the aforementioned old skool Snark Free Waters blog entry from 2005 where I made pretty much the same comment.

Three years, holy crap!

As a kid, the one series I liked the most from hat run was the time travel series. A bit different, and the relationship between Jughead and January was fun.

The Jughead-as-soap-opera was also a bit fun…though it was a bit much, even as a kid, to accept that JUGHEAD had all those women fighting over him. The less said about the skateboard and corn-rows era, the better.

The other series were ok, nothing special. As someone pointed out, they’d be fun as an occasional lead or back-up story, and by occasional, maybe once every 6 months.

I always did wonder as a kid how (and why) it took Veronica so long to get her own series, especially compared to Betty.

And yeah, Ethel was a dog…but in the God-awful Archie movie from the early 90s, it was revealed those were her ‘awkward’ years, and she ended up becoming a smoking super-model.

Er, meant to say, smoking hot super-model :S

As someone with a soft spot for Archie, I am continually amused that Cronin writes about these comics so frequently.

I actually have a bunch of these (some Betty’s Diaries, Archies 3000s, and Veronica in…) that were given to me by a friend-of-a-friend kind of deal… I had no idea they all came out in the same time frame and had vanished since.

All the ones I read, the Archie 3000, Jughead’s Time Police, Weird Science, Faculty Funnies, were quite enjoyable when I was younger.

and in r/c racers, they guys got shrunk down, so they rode their toy cars.

oliver,

I’ll give you 5 cents each for your comics and you pay the shipping.

I’m suprised Betty’s Diary didn’t last longer, it seems to be the best suited concept of the lot. Also the Dilton spin-off would probably sell better now than it did 19 years ago. But Faculty Funnies? Why, WHY!!! Oh, the humanity, the humanity! O.K. back to normal.

I remember some Archie Back To Riverdale TV movie with live actors portraying the characters as they got back together for the ten-year h.s reunion. Anyone got more info?

I remember it, vaguely, but mainly because I have the official comic adaptation (cover by John Byrne!). It’s not particularly memorable, but it did have a young Lauren Holly as grown-up Betty. I’m pretty sure it’s commercially unavailable.

The TV movie is, indeed, unavailable. I remember it airing on USA late night once in about 2004. Strange movie, although I did like the idea of Jughead as a psychiatrist.

As for these series, I remember seeing stories from most of them in digests as a kid. Like a previous commentator said, they were a lot of fun there. An “Archie 3000″ or whatever was a nice way to break up the monotony of a digest.

And I really, really loved Jughead’s Time Police as a kid. Very Doctor-Who-esque, with January McAndrews as the Doctor and Jughead as her companion.

There’s an Archie comic from 2000 that uses the R/C Racers plot, in case you’re wondering. It’s terrible.

Wasn’t the official comic adaptation drawn by Gene Colan?

Wow, crazy stuff. I was unaware of most of those, as I never really got into the Archie stuff. However, I do have copies of issue one of both Archie 3000 and Faculty Funnies. Which, oddly enough, were decent enough reads for me at the time.

Does anyone remember Jughead getting drum lessons from a drummer from another planet who played many peda;s? I think his name was z-man. If you do, which issues were they? Circa 1990-1991 Thanks.

I wrote a more thorough piece on this era on my site a few years ago.
http://www.platypuscomix.net/otherpeople/archie.html

Brian is wrong; R/C Racers was awesome. And their most ambitious title was Time Police, not Jughead’s Diner.

Kiki is wrong; she’s getting #1 confused with #5 (and there was never a clone story).

EDC is wrong; only Jughead and Betty got shrunk and that was in RC Racers #8.

But Faculty Funnies? Everyone’s right. It’s just as strange as it looks.

Binky: Jughead didn’t meet Z-Man until Jughead #36 which came out during a slightly different yet still experimental era. Read more about it on my site. And he was NOT from outer space….

I have the TV movie and the Gene Colan comic adaption. According to it, Moose marries Midge and they grow up to be chiropractors. And his door says “Moose Mason,” proving “Moose” is his actual name.

Hey, I hate to burst your bubble, but I think these launches had less to do with “risk” and more to do with the insane fanboy idiocy that was comic book collecting in the late ’80s. To wit, stupid teenagers bought EVERY first issue that came out, no matter how stupid, because everyone hoped it would be the next TNMT/GI Joe/etc and end up worth money.

All of those comics are worthless now. Even all the X-series, I assume. Right?

Still, I’d pay a couple bucks to see Jughead time travel…

Kathleen Webb

June 26, 2008 at 7:16 pm

The Betty’s Diary stories were so much fun to work on. I loved Al Hartley’s BD stories, and I got a lot of inspiration from him. It was great to be able to write some serious material for Archie using BD. Betty got a chance to be more introspective in them. I’m occasionally allowed to write them, but not as often. I miss it.

The Veronica book was fun, too, when she was going ’round the world. It was hard, though. You had to come up with a four part page-turner of a story, and then you had to do some hard research on the area she was going to so the story had more of an authentic ring to it. My favorite was when she went to Japan. My least fave was the one where she went to Canada. Mostly because I was ticked that it had to be set during the winter–thus pushing all the stereotypes of Canada as the Frozen North. I wished we could have had it set in the summer. And I know the Canadians had to be disappointed as well.

When the Veronica traveling stories were published, this was before the age of the net–I had to do most of my research at the library. Now I just go online. For the Canada one, I wound up calling the Visitors Information centers in all the provinces and territories across Canada to have them send me their tourist brochures in the mail so I could use them as reference. I got into some interesting conversations and had a pricey phone bill that month.

I wrote a couple of Archie 3000 stories as well, wish I could have done a few more. I kind of liked the Jetson-y feel to it all. One of my few penciled stories was done for that book.

Good times….! I sure do miss ‘em.

Thanks for stopping by, Kathleen!

I know I am always pleasantly surprised whenever a Betty’s Diary story pops up in an issue of Betty nowadays.

[…] all this changed in the late 80s, when Archie Comics began what I’ve called in the past their “Great Archie Comics Experiment of 1989-90,” which is of course a misnomer, as this trend began earlier, in the 1986-87 range – it was just […]

I want a complete run of Jughead’s Time Police and Archie 3000!

it’s agood series the Betty’s Comics for teens and it expands our mind to the outer word.

Man I loved almost all of these and would to see most of them come back in some form. The only one I had trouble liking was Jughead’s Dinner. I miss a few of the characters created during this period like Danni Malloy, Sassy Thrasher, January McAndrews, etc.

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