Friday, February 03, 2006

The Pride of Walvis Bay

Free Image Hosting at

This isn't related to any particular event, but I just felt like rounding up some links pertaining to some of best kids' comics of all time, the 1950s/early '60s "Little Archie" comics by Bob Bolling. What I wrote about Bolling last year still applies; instead of rehashing the parent comic with younger characters, he created an entirely new and unique world, with characters who were all his own (even if they happened to have the same names as their teenage counterparts). His stories ranged from observational comedy and sentiment to action-adventure and science-fiction.

Anyway, Bolling is still alive, and recently there's been a resurgence of interest in his work, which led to Archie Comics bringing out a collection of his Little Archie work (limited to the action-adventure and sci-fi stories only, though). At the time the collection came out, Newsarama did this interview with Bob Bolling, where he discussed the origin and development of the Little Archie series.

The San Diego Comic-Con did a Little Archie panel last year, in connection with which they did this interview with Bolling, Archie editor Victor Gorelick, and Dexter Taylor. Taylor was the "other" Little Archie writer/artist; in the early Little Archie comics he contributed stories more or less in the style of Bolling (though not as well written or drawn), and he took over the series after Bolling was moved over to other projects. Around that time, Taylor was asked to make the Little Archie comic more similar to the parent title -- incorporating "The Little Archies," dating stories, and so on -- and so if you remember Little Archie as being just an even blander version of regular Archie, you're remembering those issues. (Bolling did get to do a few more one-off Little Archie issues in his own style, though.)

Finally, Scott Shaw of Oddball Comics, one of the biggest Little Archie fans out there, did two weeks' worth of tributes to Little Archie and Bob Bolling in July 2002 (July 22 through 26) February 2004 (scroll down to February 16 through 20), including screen captures from some of Bolling's best stories.

Just as Bolling wrote several different kinds of "Little Archie" stories, he had several different drawing styles depending on the story; for straightforward comedy stories he used a more cartoony style, while for the action-adventure or suspense material he used a different style, and the Mad Doctor Doom stories were something else again.

And I've linked to it before, but there's nothing quite like the story where Betty's cat Caramel (a Bolling creation, like Betty's older sister Polly and several other characters in the Little Archie universe) talks to Betty and Veronica and tells the story of being a stray cat with three kittens, and how she had to give up her children to various humans for adoption. I wish I had the whole story to post, but the final page is pretty heartbreaking.

I'd recommend getting the currently-available collection of Little Archie stories, and tracking down the original issues if you can find them (there's a lot of good stuff that isn't in the collection).

The thumbnail at the top of the post is from Bolling's own favourite Little Archie story, "The Long Walk."

No comments: