"Safe at Home"
Uncredited: Likely by Vic Bloom and Bob Montana
Doug: Many of our readers seemed to like our examination of a WWII-era Captain America story, and although today's fare probably lies outside the Golden Age, we're going to bend the rules just a bit. So, what have we here? The two short tales I'll show you today are contained in the trade paperback, Archie Americana Series: Best of the Fifties. As I remarked in the Phoenix review from Bizarre Adventures, I also cannot recall exactly how I came to own this tpb; I know I did not pay for it. The mystery remains, which benevolent vendor threw it into an order I'd made? Let's see what was happening with Riverdale High's famous kids in the era of Leave It to Beaver.
Doug: Ah, rivals for a young beauty's affections. Here we find Veronica telling Archie "no dice" to a weekend date. No can do, says she, because she's going boating with Reggie. So Archie, totally defeated, heads to the soda jerk to drown his sorrows. In walks faithful Jughead, always willing to lend a hand. Archie feels that there's no way he can compete with Reggie's new boat; the only choice is to get a boat of his own! So he and Jughead set out on a mission, and actually find a candidate -- for $20. Jughead's skeptical, but Archie is, after all, desperate. So the boys buy the boat and set about fixing it up.
Doug: A couple of days later, Archie and Jughead go looking for Veronica and find her with Reggie. Archie insults him, as any would-be suitor would. Reggie fires back that he wishes Archie had a boat so he could show him who is boss. Reggie mentions the local boat races, and
Archie now has to put his money where his mouth is -- especially since Veronica says she'll give all of her boat dates to the winner. So the next day the whole gang is at the river, except Jughead. He's gone to borrow his uncle's outboard motor. Archie doesn't even have a motor for his boat! Reggie can hardly contain himself. At the last minute Jughead comes staggering up... with a motor that's about as big as Archie's boat! The boys get it installed just in time -- well, in fact a few moment late, as the race starts! They finally get the motor started, and the recoil throws Archie out of the boat! Jughead's on his own now. He finds the course, and wouldn't you know it? He starts picking off the competition one by one. With only Reggie to pass, Jughead zooms right on by and through the tape! However, he's got so much power, he keeps right on going. And wouldn't you know it -- the only way to stop the boat was to beach it... hard. When Archie arrives, it's to find his winning boat smashed on the shoreline. So Veronica's boating dates? They go to Reggie anyway, because Archie doesn't have a boat!
Safe At Home
Doug: I think the charm of these stories is their predictability. In both of the samples I've presented we can see the gag coming, but the true measure of a storyteller is that they keep it fun for the reader along the way. There really aren't any twists or turns in the plots, but just watching the tale unfold is a joy. For the second story, which was only five pages in length, I chose to present pages 2-5 in their entirety so that you can see what I mean. Here they are:
Doug: So what's so golden about these stories? Well for starters, everyone's clothed -- the boys don't have their pants hanging off their rear ends and the girls don't exhibit (as one of my colleagues likes to say) "cleavage in two places" -- although I was a bit surprised that Bob Montana draws just a peek of it on Veronica in the first story. I don't know that there's a lot here for Frederic Wertham to complain about, but what I do notice is the seminal nature of these stories to such television programs as the above-mentioned Leave It To Beaver, as well as The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and even on up to Happy Days. Do you want to know the first cast of characters that I related to Archie's crew? See if you can link the cast of The Amazing Spider-Man to each of the characters in these stories. I've not heard Stan Lee or Steve Ditko ever discuss Archie's stable of comics as influences on their own creativity, but in my eyes it's pretty plain to make the connections.
Doug: So would I read the rest of the trade paperback's stories? I just might! After all, knowing that tales of Archie and Jughead as beatniks, or the Elvis look-alike contest lurk just a few pages forth makes me smilingly curious. After all, sometimes it's nice to get away from one's usual preferences and explore just a bit.