ARCHIE #655 Variant Cover

Archie#655varweb

After years of sneaking tiny little Cosmo The Merry Martian cameos into the backgrounds of my Archie stories, I finally got the chance to draw this life-long favorite of mine for real in this issue, Archie # 655. The story, titled “THE GOOD GUYS OF THE GALAXY,” was a parody of the popular Marvel movie, The Guardians Of The Galaxy, and written by one of my favorite writers to work with, the legendary Tom DeFalco. The story resurrected not only Cosmo, but other long-dormant Archie properties such as Captain Sprocket, Cat Girl, Captain Pumpernik, and another long favorite of mine, Superduck.

This cover was the variant cover for the issue. I drew it in fully rendered gray tones which were taken straight to color and never inked for a more retro “pulpy” effect. It was the same process I used on the cover to Life With Archie #32.

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8 comments on “ARCHIE #655 Variant Cover”

  1. Dennis Reply

    This may be my very favorite of all the stories you drew. It was cool that there was a brief period of a few years there where they allowed those kind of little side excursion ‘what if’ stories, and this one had so many neat guest-stars. Interesting that right around the same time Gisele drew an Archie sci-fi story that took place on Mars but no Cosmo to be found anywhere (that one was actually more of an homage to Dan DeCarlo’s JETTA), which also had an E.C.-homage cover variant by (I think) Andrew Pepoy. I don’t think I ever even wound up buying the regular cover of #655 (did you do it?), I was so enamored of this variant version.

    • fernando Reply

      Yes. I did do a regular version of Archie #655. You can see it here:

      http://13thdimension.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Archie655.jpg

      In hindsight, I think this was one of very, very few instances I was ever asked to do any kind of variant cover for Archie. I did many standard covers that would be accompanied by a variant but I was rarely asked to do an actual variant myself. Off hand, I can think of this one and maybe one during my Life With Archie run.

      Sci-fi stories were always fun. I wish I’d gotten to do more. Plus, as I’ve said in the past, Tom DeFalco was an absolute delight to work with. I wish we’d collaborated more often. I thought Gisele did a great job with her Sci-fi Archie story. Its one of my favorites of her work at Archie. What a shame that place had no idea what to do with the talent it had access to!

  2. Dennis Reply

    Totally agree about Tom D’s stories for Archie — they were a breath of fresh air to break up the usual Riverdale-set stories. And when I say “there was a brief period of time there”, I can’t recall exactly when it started. It might have been with Dan’s B&V ‘Spy Girls’ stories (or the earliest B&V Fairy Tales, in the digests) or with your collaboration with Tom on “The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.”. Come to think of it, I have to check credits, but weren’t most of those… let’s call them the “Alterniverse Archie” stories… collabs with Tom? After The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E., there was the Lost World, Robbin’ Arch, the Harry Potter parody, Archie as “The God of Blunder”, etc. All great stories, and IIRC most of those were written by Tom and/or drawn by you in ARCHIE (excuse me if memory fails on the credits of some of those). Maybe the whole idea of Alterniverse Archie stories just seemed more acceptable at the time because of LIFE WITH ARCHIE, but I think at least some of those preceded LWA. While shorts of that type seemed commonplace in the Silver Age, sometime in the 1970s they seemed to become part of “The Mighty Archie Art Players” and were limited to just a title or two like (the original) Life With Archie or LAUGH. We barely saw any of those type of stories in the 1990s or the 00s.

  3. Dennis Reply

    Oh, I guess I’m forgetting the weird short-run titles of the late 1980s-early 1990s like Jughead’s Time Police, Jughead’s Diner, Archie 3000, and Archie’s Explorers of the Unknown. Maybe it’s because those experimental titles didn’t do so well in sales that there wasn’t a lot of that kind of thing for a couple of decades afterwards, with the exception of the TV-based Archie’s Weird Mysteries. I think it’s the kind of story that works better as an occasional change-of-pace than an ongoing series, though.

  4. Dennis Reply

    And again, I totally agree that they didn’t know what to do with their existing talent. Eroding sales on the ACP regular-format comic titles were just a result of them never securing much of an audience in comic book stores, but they should have been packing the new material from those titles as they succumbed to cancellation into the digests, in effect putting 20-24 pages of new material up front and on the cover. Only the digests seemed to be getting through distribution channels to the audience for Archie readers.

    • fernando Reply

      Archie Comics enjoyed one creatively very good year around 2010 through 2011. This was when the new regime of Jon Goldwater stepped in to take the reigns of the company after the deaths of Richard Goldwater and Michael Silberkleit. (If someone went back in time and told the pre-2010 me that Richard and Michael’s reign was going to be my professional Golden Age at Archie Comics, I think I might’ve killed myself then!) When Jon Goldwater came in, the first thing he told us was to “be funny.” He unshackled us from the excessively politically correct chains that had strangled the company for the past two decades. Once again, we were free to do jokes with Moose beating up Reggie and Mr. Lodge could throw Archie from his house. This stuff may seem minor but they were symptoms of the suffocating atmosphere that caused us to doubt every creative impulse we had. “They’ll never go far that” was constantly the answer to any suggestion we had. Jon, to his credit, initially did try to change that and this lead to some creative high points like Dan Parent’s creation of Kevin Keller and the very experimental Life With Archie magazine. Unfortunately, I get the impression that the company was in far worse shape than Goldwater knew it was. I’ve heard stories about some behind-the-scenes shenanigans but since its all second hand, I won’t go into it hear. I do believe that once the internal fighting between Goldwater and Nanci Silberkleit started, the cement was being poured on The End. That battle really seemed to change everything and it seemed to consume company resources dramatically. By 2012, we saw things go away like the newspaper strip and a few of the regular titles. My impression is that Goldwater is not familiar at all with comic books and I’m not sure what if anything he knows about Publishing. For his comic book information, he relies heavily on his president, Mike Pellerito, a comic book fan of 1990’s comic books (God help us!) and who had no experience as president of a company before everyone at Archie started dying. A lot of where Archie is today …including my own dismissal… is due to Pellerito. For better or worse, that’s where they are and in a nutshell, how they got there.

  5. Dennis Reply

    That’s a pretty sad summary. Maybe because Jon Goldwater really had no idea what he was doing, he was bound to allow at least some experimentation and good stuff to see the light of day. It’s ironic to read that his initial mandate to the creators was “Be funny”, because he now seems to have taken a 180° turn on that and wants ACP to try to compete on a level playing field with Marvel and DC… he wants ACP to be “taken seriously” by the comic shop consumers. That might be okay for superheroes, but superheroes were never “cartoon characters” in the traditional sensibility of that word to begin with, or at least they haven’t been since the 1960s. Trying to put the Archie characters, originally made to generate laughs for their audience, into an entirely different context of ‘dramedy’ (or something) is just missing the point. He should have stayed focused on point with “Be funny”.

    I loved the iteration of the newspaper strip done by you, Craig Boldman, and Henry Scarpelli. In terms of “be funny” the strip just had it all over the comic book version of Archie that it ran parallel to. The strip format just lent itself to punchier gags, I guess. I’d love to see that reprinted (beyond the one slim paperback volume that was released by ACP in B&W). Every once and a while they used to reprint a page or two in one of the digests, but I don’t think I’ve seen any in a year or so.

    • fernando Reply

      The Archie newspaper strips used to be recycled into the digests as one page gags titled… I think… Archie’s Gag Bag or something like that. It was a cute, efficient way of using up those leftover pages in the digests. Unfortunately these days the page count is so down to the bone that every last page is absolutely spoken for and so there’s no need for those one-pagers anymore. In the “good ol’ days,” when Victor Gorelick ran the show he knew how to keep his stable of artists working consistently. If he didn’t have enough scripts to go around, he’d give us five or six one-page gags to make up the difference. He knew eventually they’d all be used.

      As for the poor sad newspaper strip, that to me, best exemplifies Archie Comics’ philosophy that it’s easier to outright cancel something than it is to try to save it. I had known that the newspaper strip had been struggling for a while. Every did. It had been a LONG while too. One day, I went into the Office and I was told it was cancelled (or more accurately, it was going to go completely reprint which may as well have meant cancellation as far as I was concerned.) No effort was made to try to save it. No new ideas were solicited. It was just an outright execution. I’ve said this often but I look at the death of the daily strip as the beginning of my end at Archie Comics. It certainly was the end of my ability to make a full time living at Archie. From then on, Archie collapsed into a rapidly eroding part-time gig.

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