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CSBG Archive

Barbara Slate Week! – Archie Comics

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Barbara Slate Week continues, which is a (work) week’s worth of spotlights on the work of Barbara Slate, an underappreciated comic book creator who I’ve long been a fan of.

Today we take a look at a variety of comics that Slate has worked on for Archie over the last twenty or so years…

Writing for Archie Comics is a fascinating exercise. On the one hand, you’re constrained by the fact that the stories all have to be more or less self-contained (obviously there are exceptions and there have been more and more of these exceptions in recent years as Archie Comics has embraced the concept of easily collectible story arcs), you are constrained by the fact that the comics have to be kid-friendly and your often constrained to having to tell the full story in six pages but beyond that, your only constraint is your own imagination. The best Archie writers clearly have a blast exploring this brave new world and Barbara Slate is no exception.

An interesting change with her Archie work, though, is that she only writes her Archie stories and does not draw them. Still, they have been quite a lot of fun.

In this story from Archie #457, drawn by Stan Goldberg and Harry Scarpelli, Slate has a rare Archie tale that ends with a risque punchline (an extremely, extremely tame one, but still), as Archie realizes his two girlfriends both have expertise in subjects he is doing poorly in…

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Slate deals with the traditional Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle in this good bit from Archie #568 (art by Goldberg and Bob Smith), where Veronica insists that Archie tell her what he likes about Betty Cooper (don’t do it, Arch, it’s a trap!)…

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In Veronica #186, Slate comes up with a clever set-up for a Veronica dilemma (art by Dan Parent and Jim Amash)…

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In this piece from Betty #172 (art by Goldberg and Rich Koslowski), Slate shows off the freedom I was talking about before by doing an entire story just based on the concept of “idiomatic expressions” (which are expressions that only make sense because we know the intent behind them. “It’s raining cats and dogs” is, by itself, a ridiculous expression. It only makes sense because we know what the intent behind the expression is)…

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In Archie #598, Slate must have had a blast with the lead story in the issue, as she wrote it with her own daughter, Samantha (art by Goldberg and Smith)! The concept of the story is Archie volunteering at a nursing home where he befriends a resident who has, well, let’s just say similar problems to Archie…

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These are just a small sampling of Slate’s work at Archie, of course, but I think they are representative of her fun, enjoyable tales at the company.

3 Comments

I love Slate’s ARCHIE work, so thanks for shining a light on these for people who may be unfamiliar! I always think of the idiomatic one as one of my favourites. Very clever and a real hoot. I always thought Slate had one of the best grasps on Betty – her characterization of her managed to be sweet without being a pushover. Great article and thanks for the scans!

Slate’s work on Archie in the 90s is the best thing she’s ever done BY FAR.

i love the books you inspire me with them. i hope i see more of your work! ialready have fifty of your books!
kyndra

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