Concept: Nelson Ribeiro
Writer: Fernando Ruiz
Pencils: Rex Lindsey
Inks: Rex Lindsey
Original Publication: Archie Comics Digest Magazine, No. 236
Cover Date: September, 2007
Shipping Date: July 4, 2007*
On-Sale DDC Date: July 11, 2007*
On-Sale Newsstand Date: July 24, 2007*
Length: 11 pages
*according to solicitations
Before I get to the story, I want to provide some context. This story came out during Archie Comics’ 65th Anniversary celebration. It was actually the last story in a digest that contained reprints of Archie’s first appearance in Pep #22 as well as Archie #1. It was hyped by the company. On August 23, 2007, roughly a month after it first came out, Archie Comics put out this press release:
ARCHIE COMICS IS OFFERING THE SOLD OUT ARCHIE DIGEST #236 DIRECTLY TO FANS
Archie Comics has offered collector set and subscriptions to our fans for years. However, we have never before offered to sell single issues of one of our comics to our fans. As part of our 65th Anniversary celebration of ARCHIE COMICS #1 we published ARCHIE DIGEST #236. When ARCHIE DIGEST #236 sold out across the country, fans wrote in and e-mailed, telling us they could not find this comic in stores and asking us to sell them this special Anniversary issue.
ARCHIE DIGEST #236 is a special issue paying tribute to Archie’s illustrious past by reprinting Archie’s very first adventures from PEP COMICS #22 and ARCHIE COMICS #1! From Archie being a hapless showoff when Betty moves into town, to Archie being a tongue-tied, discombobulated wreck when Veronica moves into town, these early stories written by Vic Bloom and others reflect the free-wheeling fun of the popular screwball comedy movies of the day. Not to mention the charmingly exaggerated cartooning styles of Bob Montana and others so popular in the 1940s. As if that weren’t enough, the original “funny animal” supporting features like Squoimy the Woim, Cubby the Bear and Bumbie the Bee-tective, from the legendary Joe Edwards are also included! If you’ve never seen Archie and his friends as they originally appeared, you’re in for a treat with these milestone tales… The entire contents of ARCHIE COMICS #1 have not been available since 1942, so this is a very significant issue in Archie history. Keep in mind that the values and comedic traditions in 1942 are not the same as they are in 2007; some stories although historically significant do not reflect the culture and values of Archie Comics Publications and are only presented for their historical value.
In addition to re-presenting the 1st Appearance of Archie and the 1st Archie Comic, we have a brand new story created in homage to the 1940s gang…
“When Archie Meets Archie”: On the eve of his 65th anniversary, Archie Andrews meets… himself! At least, the version of himself that appeared in Archie’s first story! After Archie gets used to calling his other self “Chic,” he ends up meeting the vintage Jughead and Betty, too – also drawn 1940s style! The space-time continuum has never seen anything like this! Celebrate Archie’s 65th anniversary in the best way possible – read this digest and take a hilarious walk down memory lane!
ARCHIE DIGEST #236
SCRIPTS AND ART: Vic Bloom, Bob Montana, Joe Edwards, Fernando Ruiz, Rex Lindsey and more!
Full color digest format
Yeah, that was bullshit. After the press release was put out, a bunch of fans mentioned seeing multiple copies in local stores.
Anyway, on to the story:
Archie runs out of Sam’s Bakery with a three-tiered cake in his hands. Mr. Weatherbee assigned him to pick up the cake for Riverdale High’s 65th Anniversary Bash this afternoon, but Archie’s car broke down on the way. Archie’s gonna be late getting back, so he takes a shortcut to make up some lost time. He goes down a street called Memory Lane, which he never noticed before.
When he exits Memory Lane, he’s in the 1940s, but he thinks there must be a classic car show in town. He notices people wearing “those old skool clothes” and thinks they’re really into it. Archie gets knocked over by old Archie, who’s speeding by on one of those skateboard precursors made out of soapboxes. The cake amazingly lands perfectly back on the tray. Old Archie asks if Archie is okay. Archie says old Archie looks “familiar somehow”. Old Archie introduces himself as “Chic” and comments on the cake. Archie explains what it’s for, which confuses old Archie, because “Riverdale High just opened this year!”
Old Jughead speeds by on a skateboard thingy made out of an egg box. Archie is confused over old Jughead’s appearance. Old Jughead asks how Archie knows his name. Archie goes over all of this in his mind, confused.
Old Betty shows up, which further surprises Archie. Old Betty asks “Gee, don’t I know you?” Old Jughead wants the cake, but Archie doesn’t let him have it. Old Betty “offers” to let old Archie buy her a soda at the drug store, but old Jughead reminds old Archie that it’s almost two o’clock. Old Archie and old Jughead go off.
Archie asks old Betty what’s at two o’clock, and Betty angrily says it’s time for The Silhouette (the Archie version of The Shadow). Archie asks if that’s some new show on cable or a DVD. Old Betty says “No, silly! It’s a radio show!” Archie and old Betty look in through the window of someone’s house and see old Archie and old Jughead, lying on the floor in front of the radio and eating popcorn while listening to the show.
Archie has to get the cake to school, and old Betty decides to walk with him. Old Betty learns Archie’s name and says that’s Chic’s real name. She wishes she had something to remember Archie by. Archie sets the cake down on a picnic table in someone’s backyard and picks up a paint brush and paint can by a wet fence. He paints “A.A. + B.C.” inside a heart on a rock, which old Betty finds “just keen”. Archie hears the bell ring on a nearby clock tower and sees it’s three o’clock. Archie says he’s going to be late, tells old Betty that he’ll catch up with her later, and runs off with the cake. Archie runs back up Memory Lane, hoping things will be normal again.
When he exits Memory Lane, he’s back in 2007. To make this clear, we see a girl talking on a cell phone, a CDs / DVDs / video games store, and an Internet cafe. Archie trips on the rock and falls on the ground. Two of the layers land perfectly back on the tray. Archie gets up, and Betty greets him. The third tier lands on Mr. Weatherbee’s head, out of their sight. After Betty brings Archie’s attention to the cake, Archie guesses he must have lost the third tier when he tripped on the rock. Archie looks at the rock, freaks out, drops the cake (which lands perfectly), and runs away. Betty is surprised but happy. She doesn’t remember Archie ever painting their initials on that rock, and she wonders when he did that.
This story is very weird. I know it’s supposed to be a nostalgia trip (literally), but it’s not handled right.
First, Archie’s reaction to going back in time (which he refuses to even admit, thinking he was dreaming) and seeing old versions of himself, Jughead, and Betty is very subdued. He’s more confused, when he should be freaked out.
Riverdale High did not just open back then. An early story actually referred to it as “dear old RHS”.
Memory Lane is never explained.
Nothing seems to come of Archie’s nearly hour-long conversation with old Betty. There are no profound revelations. There is no real confusion on either of their parts.
We never get to see old Veronica, the old versions of the parents or faculty, or even Goody. Even an extensive tour of old Riverdale would have been nice. There are so many missed opportunities here.
A huge mistake is the constant referring to old Archie as “Chic”, whereas he was called “Chick” in his first appearance in Pep #22. Considering they were reprinting that very story in this digest, how did they ever screw this up? They accidentally gave old Archie a nickname that’s Betty’s brother’s real name. This is an especially strange twist, considering, in Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine #150, in the “Betty and Veronica’s Scrapbook” story, they accidentally referred to Betty’s brother Chic as “Chick”.
If that rock was right outside Riverdale High School, then why did Archie run off after painting on the rock and go back up Memory Lane? If he was late, then he should have just tried the high school first.
The buildings on both ends of Memory Lane change from the beginning of the story to the ending.
Finally, this story seems to indicate the modern Archie stories occur in the same universe as the original Archie stories, but the characters aren’t the same. For example, modern Betty isn’t the original Betty. As my friend, John, told me after I described the story to him, “Don’t even go there.”