Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bolling For Dollars

News to make Scott Shaw! happy and also to make me feel pretty darn good: A second volume of classic "Little Archie" stories by Bob Bolling, including a new Bolling story featuring his classic villain Mad Doctor Doom.

It doesn't say what the selection of stories will be; the first volume focused entirely on the action-adventure stories to the exclusion of all other types of Bolling story, and I have a feeling the second volume will be the same way. (When he started the Little Archie series, Bolling did light comedy stories in the vein of the parent comic, except with situations that younger children might get into; as the series went on, he sort of split the stories into three modes -- action/adventure, light comedy, and sentimental stories -- modifying his drawing style depending on what kind of story it was.) I hope they at least found room for Bolling's own favorite, "The Long Walk."

It would also be nice to see my personal favorite, "Caramel Has a Tale", a story in which Little Archie himself doesn't appear, and which focuses on one of the characters Bolling created, Betty's cat Caramel. (For whatever reason, Bolling was given more freedom than almost any artist on any "Archie" title -- he was even allowed to sign his stories, which none of the other artists got to do at the time -- and he took advantage of that freedom to populate "Little Archie" with many characters who had no counterpart in the original comic, like Little Ambrose, "Fangs" Fogarty, Betty's sister Polly and her brother Chic, who appears in Bolling's new story.) It's a realistic story with a fantasy hook: when Betty and Veronica comment on Caramel's laziness, Caramel suddenly begins to speak to them, and tells of her experiences as a stray cat trying to find homes for her children. It's got drama, comedy, tearjerking pathos and even political satire: Caramel finds one of her kids, the "longwinded" one, a home at the White House Capitol. No kids' comics artist ever pulled off quite the range of emotion -- often within the same story -- that Bolling did.

The press release also says that the new volume will contain some stories by Dexter Taylor, the other Little Archie artist. His contributions to the early issues are basically imitation Bolling (following Bolling's lead in comedy and action/adventure stories), pretty good, sometimes very good, without being on the same level. After Bolling left, Taylor took over the title and was ordered to make it more like the parent comic, which led to the artwork and stories becoming very bland.


Anthony Strand said...

Huh. That's cool. I'll read it.

Is that a Laverne & Shirley reference in the title? If so . . . wow.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Is that a Laverne & Shirley reference in the title?

Not that I know of -- was there an episode where they went on Bowling for Dollars?