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Let’s take a look at the not-so-well-known love life of one Forsythe Pendleton “Jughead” Jones III.
As with many other comic book stalwarts like Superman and Batman, while the basics behind the various Archie characters were in place when each of them debuted, there were certain vagaries of characterization that adapted as the series went on.
One such thing was the notion of Jughead dating.
Early on, while it was clear that it was an Archie-Betty-Veronica love triangle as the focal point of the stories, Jughead was still seen as a viable alternative. In many ways, he would take up the role that the newly created Reggie Mantle would serve in later years – the guy that the one who was not dating Archie at that point in time would date.
So Jughead went on dates with Betty…
and he went on dates with Veronica…
Eventually, though, the standard of Jughead “girl hater” was established, which was how the character went for the next few decades.
The one “love interest” in his life during this time was Big Ethel, who when first introduced was portrayed rather harshly, which was typical for the time, of course, but still, it’s a bit disheartening to see “Haw haw! Lookit her! She’s ugly!”
Really, though, despite the casual cruelty Jughead bestowed upon Ethel, it would be wrong to consider Jughead a true misogynist, as he always was quite friendly to women other than Ethel – he just didn’t want to date them.
So yeah, Ethel stuck around (and is still around), constantly trying to get Jughead to fall for her (and occasionally, when the story required for Jughead to have a date, Ethel usually would be it).
The visual gags with Ethel faded away over time, though, and she became less horrid in appearance…
Here’s a fairly recent cover featuring Ethel…
In any event, 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 solidified during the 1989-90 time frame. And as Jughead was a major figure in the 1989-90 line expansion, so was he a major facet of their late-80s line revamp, when Jughead’s title re-launched in 1987 with a brand-new #1 and a new approach to Jughead and dating.
In this comic, Jughead meets a new girl in school named Debbie, and they hit it off great, and begin dating.
Around this same time (I BELIEVE a bit earlier), we meet Jughead’s FIRST love, Joanie Jumpp, and this teaches us why Jughead doesn’t date. You see, he had a thing for Joanie when they were kids, and they were boyfriend/girlfriend at a very young age, but Joanie then moved away!
Now a young woman, she’s back in his life, and Jughead had a love triangle of his own for awhile between Debbie and Joani.
Heck, what am I saying – TRIangle? It was a Love PENTAGON, as Ethel (hot off a hip makeover) was getting into the game with Jughead, too, a bit.
The craziest girlfriend at this time, though, and the one who makes this a Love Pentagon, was January McAndrews, who was Jughead’s partner in the short-lived comic Jughead’s Time Police, where they, well, you know, policed time!
The weirdest thing about that, though, is that January is the descendant of none other than Archie Andrews himself!
Come on, people, tell me that’s not a little bit messed up!
Ultimately, though, like most of the Archie Comics Experiment of 1989-90, the whole “Jughead being a player” routine did not fare well with the readers, so they actually had an issue where they explained why Jughead was going back to normal…
So yeah, Jughead was back to normal.
By the way, these are the MAJOR love interests in his life – there are always a number of one-off love interests just passing through, mostly for one story (and usually just for a gag), like Jughead dating a girl named Patty…
Or dating a girl whose father owned a restaurant, stuff like that.
The next major love interest, and really, the current most notable love interest for Jughead is Trula Twyst, a psychology student who determined that reversing Jughead’s attitudes on women would be her most notable achievement yet…
The J.U.S.T. group was Jughead Under Surveillance Team, which was Twyst’s group devoted to getting Jughead to get into girls – it did not work, but Trula has popped up many times in the time since to lock wits with Jughead.
She has a way of getting to him that no one else does, and she’s a fun character to have around. They just recently had a story together a couple of issues ago.
Wendy Weatherbee, Mr. Weatherbee’s teen niece, tried to get Jughead to like her awhile ago, but that did not work out.
They’re still friends, though, so you never know whether that might pop up again.
Most recently, in one of the Archie “new look” comics that Archie Comics has been occasionally doing (this was the second one, the third is currently going on in Pals and Gals Double Digest) Sandy Sanchez and Jughead dated when all their friends tried to fix the pair up together because they were tired of Jughead being alone all the time.
In a rather ridiculous (even for an Archie Comic) plot twist, Jughead and Sandy PRETEND to be madly in love and even act like they’re going to drop out of school to elope – all just to stick it to their friends for interfering.
However, at the end, while they part as friends, we get some major hints that they’re continuing to date on the sly.
So there you go! Sixty years of Jughead Jones’ love life!
Bet you didn’t think you were going to know this much about Jughead’s love life when you woke up today!
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