Before anyone asks, I didn’t forget about the live-action specials from the 1970s. I’m trying to get them, but I’ve had no luck so far. For those of you that don’t know, ABC aired two live-action specials based on Archie and the gang, one in 1974 and another (in a retooled variety format) in 1976. I’ve seen only a bit of the 1976 special in someone else’s video review (the video quality was pretty bad), and I haven’t seen any of the 1974 special. Both shared the same cast. They’re probably interesting looks at what middle-aged men thought teens in the mid-to-late 1970s were like (much like the 1960s pilots are interesting looks at what middle-aged men thought teens in the mid-to-late 1960s were like), but I can’t review them until/unless I get them. Keep in mind that these things aired only once each as far as I know, and the 1960s pilots probably didn’t air at all, so the fact that we have any footage today is a miracle.
This week, I’m taking a break from reviewing the television series to take a look at what was going on in the comics in the break between TV series. After all, the comics are (to borrow a phrase that someone once used to describe the Superman comics as opposed to the shows to me) “the real legacy”. That’s where the most character development and world building (such as they are) occur. Specifically, I’ll be taking a look at the introduction of Cheryl Blossom, reviewing her first two appearances (I’ll also be adding a new Reviews page as of today with convenient links to every review on the blog). Since she plays an important role on the upcoming “Riverdale” series, I feel it makes sense to look at her development as a character in the comics. I’m sorry for the lack of images; WordPress isn’t allowing me to upload any images from this comic, even though I can upload other comic images just fine. Really weird.
Writer: Frank Doyle*
Pencils: Dan DeCarlo*
Inks: Jimmy DeCarlo*
Colors: Barry Grossman*
Letters: Billy Yoshida*
Original Publication: Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica, No. 320
Cover Date: October, 1982
Length: 5 pages
*The story is uncredited. The credits come from Grand Comics Database and may or may not be accurate.
Betty and Veronica are at the beach. They’re each wearing a one-piece swimsuit, but Veronica’s has a plunging neckline. Veronica says her father thinks her new suit is too daring and asks Betty for her opinion. Rather than give an answer, Betty spots Cheryl walking their way, wearing a…sleeveless jacket, and suggests Veronica ask her. Veronica does. Cheryl sheds her jacket, revealing a tiny bikini that barely contains her boobs.
Betty and Veronica are shocked, and Betty asks Cheryl how she could wear that, because it’s “a suit to get arrested in”. I notice Betty is clearly smiling when she says this, which leads me to believe she has no real objections to Cheryl wearing her bikini and actually kind of admires her for doing it.
Anyway, Cheryl says this is the problem with “this stodgy old town”. She brings up the topless beaches of Europe (and particularly southern France), which somehow shocks the well-traveled Veronica. Betty points out that Riverdale has a long way to go until it’s the south of France. This gives Cheryl an idea: shake people up by starting a topless trend in Riverdale! Betty, despite looking excitedly happy to see the goods, quickly dissuades Cheryl, who calls her a spoilsport.
Cheryl accuses them of living in the past and leaves. Her brother, Jason, comes by. Betty frowns and calls Cheryl outrageous. Jason agrees. Betty suggest Jason “take her in hand”. Yeah, I know what it means, but keep this line in mind if you read “Afterlife With Archie” or watch “Riverdale”.
Jason tries to get close to Betty, but Betty pushes him away and tells him what Cheryl did, adding she could get banned from the beach. Jason is unconcerned, saying Cheryl’s a big girl that can take care of herself. Betty is skeptical. Jason takes a soda can out of his bag (which he wasn’t seen bringing over) and says “ol’ sis” has been thrown off better beaches than this.
Veronica asks what Jason’s doing. To Betty and Veronica’s disapproval, he’s putting a cola label around a can of beer, so “the dumb beach patrol doesn’t wise up”.
As luck would have it, a member of the “dumb beach patrol” walks up right behind him and peers over his shoulder as he says this.
The woman, Joney, kicks Jason off the beach. Her colleague, who has an angry Cheryl in custody (covered with a towel), boasts of catching “a liberal trying to liberate more than the law allows”. Ugh. Why the fuck do conservative people always have to disparagingly describe anyone that disagrees with their narrow views as a “liberal”? Even if they are liberal, it’s insulting to use the word as an insult.
Betty and Veronica happily look on as Jason and Cheryl are escorted off the beach, puzzled by their behavior.
So that’s Cheryl’s first appearance. It’s an okay story. It’s odd in that there really is no introduction to her or her brother. Betty and Veronica behave like they already know them. Their last names aren’t mentioned. Jason isn’t specifically busted for underage drinking, just trying to drink on the beach, so the characters’ ages are vague. In fact, the only thing that we can reasonably assume about them, based on this story, is they’re rich, and that’s solely because of Cheryl’s talk of Europe (so it’s merely hinted at).
The story is followed by a pin-up fashion page of Cheryl wearing reader-submitted fashions – directly after her first appearance! Amazing! Yeah, these fashions were probably meant for Betty and/or Veronica and then thrown on Cheryl.
In conclusion, I should note this is considered the first Cheryl story solely because of the blurb on the front cover. She also appeared in Archie’s Pal Jughead, No. 325, in the same month, though it’s unclear which issue appeared first. Stay tuned!