Collector selling Archie #1 as marriage proposal looms

RIVERDALE – The world’s longest lasting love triangle is about to end. Or is it?

Archie Comics has announced that with issue No. 600 of the 68-year old comic book series, Archie Andrews is going to pop the question. The storyline will look at Archie five years after graduating Riverdale High. He finally decides to settle down and propose to his longtime pursuit Veronica Lodge, to the heartbreak of hometown favorite Betty Cooper.

The story line has “angered” collector David Luebke so much that he has decided to sell his prized copy of Archie No. 1. Luebke’s copy is perhaps the finest known to exist and is rumored it may bring as much as $45,000 in Heritage Auctions’ Aug. 14 Signature Auction. Certified Guaranty Company (CGC) graded the copy a 7.0 on a 10-point scale, the highest grade ever for Archie Comics # 1.

“I just feel betrayed,” Luebke jokes. “All of these years I have been waiting for Archie to man up and realize what a treasure Betty is," he told Comics Buyer’s Guide, also published by Krause Publications. "Is it the economy? Is Archie’s proposal just for the money? Is Archie really that shallow?"

The news has made international headlines. Among the media following the story include the TODAY Show, USA TODAY, Canada’s National Post, the Times of India, MSNBC and the Associated Press. After all, it’s not every day a 70-year old proposes marriage, especially if that 70-year old is considered an American pop-culture icon sharing ranks with Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop and Superman.

The story line will be spread over six issues headed to newsstands in September.

At, a USA Today poll shows nearly 11,000 people have voted according to the question ‘Who do you think Archie should tie the knot with?’ The winner so far: Betty with 80 percent of the vote.

Archie is America’s first teen comic and his debut in 1941 set the standard for all others. In the years since, collectors have driven values higher. Comics Values Annual 2009, Krause Publications, lists Archie # 1 at $35,000. Archie’s first appearance in PEP Comics # 22 (Dec. 1941) is also valued at $35,000.

Collectors highly value issues printed in the 1940s among all others. Prices for Archie Comics series range from $7,500 to $1,300 for issues published by MLK Magazines in 1942-1943. The company’s name was changed to Archie Publications in 1946.

The development of the character is rooted in creating an alternative to World War II era superheroes.

The creation of Archie

In late 1939, three men teamed to form MLJ Comics, the company that would soon produce an icon of American popular culture: Archie Andrews.

Remember that, at this juncture, comic books were still young and finding their way in popular culture, only five years after Max C. Gaines had brought Famous Funnies #1 to newsstands to kick off the medium’s format. By 1939, the situational and base humor of the 20th century’s early comic strips was giving way to more serious thoughts of war and patriotism in comic books. Many companies were offering super-hero comics, and MLJ at first did the same. Blue Ribbon Comics was the first title from MLJ (#1 was Nov 39), followed by Top-Notch Comics (#1 Dec 39), and then came Pep Comics (#1 Jan 40).

John L. Goldwater (the “J” of MLJ and co-publisher of the company) was interested in developing a humorous character of more ordinary origins than those of the super-heroes of the day. He wanted a comics story that everyone could relate to, cast with young, Andy Hardy, Henry Aldrich-type kids full of enthusiasm for life. Goldwater brought his notions up with Louis Silberkleit (the “L” of MLJ) and the company’s business manager, who consulted with Maurice Coyne (the “M” of MLJ and the third of the original partners). All three agreed that Goldwater’s idea had merit and encouraged him to pursue it to completion.

So it was that Archie Andrews first appeared on the pages of Pep Comics #22 (Dec 41) in a six-page story, with no title. It was here that the public first also met Jughead Jones and Betty Cooper, and the three characters established some of their lifelong traits. Betty’s family was just moving in to the neighborhood, Archie’s attempts to impress her backfired, and Jughead trailed along the whole way with his sardonic wit and lack of use for the female of the species.

The kids looked young (pre-teen), and Archie was nicknamed “Chick,” but the story elements of attraction, friendship, and simple actions resulting in complex and hilarious situations were all present in the story scripted by Vic Bloom featuring characters designed by Bob Montana, who drew the feature.

During the year that followed, Archie stories spread to other MLJ titles, and new characters were added to flesh out the picturesque town of Riverdale. Veronica Lodge came to town in Pep Comics #26 (Apr 42) and then came to town again in the first hint of a love triangle story, in which Archie ended up with dual dates with Betty and Veronica. That story appeared in the new MLJ title Archie Comics #1 (Win 42). Archie’s rival Reggie popped up in another MLJ title, Jackpot Comics  #5 (Spring 42) and then with more prominence in #6 (Sum 42). Jackpot Comics #5 also introduced the school principal, Mr. Weatherbee, while teacher Miss Grundy wasn’t seen until Pep Comics #30 (Aug 42), and Pop Tate, owner of the Choklit Shoppe (though both Pop and his store name evolved through the years), came along in Pep Comics #46 (Feb 44).

That first solo issue of Archie Comics, featuring the work of Bob Montana and Joe Edwards among others, went a long way toward establishing the world of Archie as readers would see it for many years to come. Themes would be strengthened and new characters would come along throughout the 1940s, but the basis of a full and hilarious Riverdale was there from the start.

Looking over a variety of issues of Laugh Comics and Archie Comics from the 1940s, it’s clear that the style of the feature evolved, from the rough, angular look of Al Fagaly-drawn covers to the sophisticated designs in covers crafted by Bill Vigoda, to the full, vibrant curves of artist Bob Montana in the late 1940s and heading into the 1950s.

The crude, tough-looking characters of the early days of Archie gave way to sleeker, softer lines, as Montana and Vigoda evolved that classic style. The stories in the comics also became more eloquent, as the refining of the basic madcap formula centered on Archie’s weaknesses and enthusiasm became complete. MLJ’s writers had developed “America’s Typical Teen-Ager” in print, and “The Mirth of a Nation” had been born.

The popularity of Goldwater’s concept came to fruition through the words and art of the MLJ writers and artists throughout the 1940s. Modern readers can confirm this with a look back at such published images as the cover of Pep Comics #51 (Dec 44), with the Archie gang splashed over the whole cover. Little emphasis was left for super-heroes, and the strength of the teen approach was clear. From this point on, MLJ hung its figurative hats on Archie and such of its other teen characters as Wilbur and Suzie, who received their own titles in 1944 and 1945.

Meanwhile, other comics publishers were trying to follow this new and popular trend, but Archie had already become so well loved that he was almost impossible to beat. In 1946 MLJ Comics became Archie Comics, and the die was cast. For the second half of this decade almost every issue of Archie Comics reportedly sold nearly a million copies. By the end of the decade, Archie had attached a caption to the bottom of its covers that it was “America’s Largest-Selling Teen-Age Magazine,” and Archie Comics was ranked in the top 10 of magazine publishers worldwide.

Archie in the 1950s

It’s clear from a good look at the Archie comics of 1948, 1949, and 1950 that a definite change in style was gradually occurring in the artists’ approaches. Judging from covers, it would seem that Bob Montana provided the catalyst, probably after he returned from military service. Perhaps the pin-up art of the times had an effect on his approach, but, in any case, the curves swelled and the eyes widened with subtext for many of the Archie characters.

The company’s initial titles — Pep Comics, Laugh Comics, and Archie Comics — would generate a firm second tier of spin-offs in the 1950s, all of the same high quality as the originals. But some of these offerings would break new ground for comic-book design.

One-, two-, and three-page stories were beginning to appear more often, yet the beautiful splash pages of those earlier years still showed up. Most of these new ’50s comics would continue as core titles in the Archie line for the next four decades.

Archie’s Pal Jughead was first introduced in 1949 and sported the first appearance of Moose McGee (whose name was later changed to Mason) in #1. Jughead’s popularity was pretty big from the start but, with his own title and some fine art courtesy of Sam Schwartz, it really soared. The simplicity and dependability of Jughead’s character is at the heart of his endurance. Readers can always be sure of two things in the Archie Comics world: Jughead loves food and hates girls. It’s that simple, as demonstrated by Bill Vigoda in his cover work for Archie’s Pal Jughead #15 (Dec 52). The theme was continued inside this issue with its lead story “It Makes Scents,” which featured an early appearance of Ophelia, Jughead’s first female nemesis in comics. (Ophelia eventually evolved into Big Ethel, who continued to pursue Jughead for many years.)

In 1950, the first issue of Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica hit the stands. The stories centered on the rivalry between the two title characters, but they also had their moments of unity. Creating a story line and separate title for these two was a nifty accomplishment, which probably brought in new female readership and certainly locked in the young male readers. Betty and Veronica established for themselves a more active role, and writers and artists seemed to revel in developing a new sexy, yet empowered, persona for each of them, as clearly demonstrated on the cover of their third annual, released in 1955. The results made the series one of the company’s foremost titles.

In 1952 the company rolled out Archie’s Pals ’n’ Gals to a great reception. Pals ’n’ Gals was one of the best comics for staying on top of teen trends. In its pages, readers could find stories touching on such current topics as Rock and Roll, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, The Beatles, and the looming generation gap.

Archie’s Jokebook Magazine came along in 1953, introducing a new short, punchy style. This featured innovative issue-length comic-book design, with three-panel, half-page, and full-page gags instead of full-length stories. Its success led to Archie’s launch of several similar titles — and other companies’ trying to compete by capitalizing on the concept.

1954 brought readers one of the mainstays of parental comics involvement for years to come: Archie’s Christmas Stocking.

That annual was begun as the kickoff title for Archie Giant Series Magazine (#1, Win 54), an umbrella title for an assortment of Archie tales featuring a specific focus, and eventually spun off its own series, starting again with #1 (Jan 94). The Christmas Stocking issue always had a fabulous cover, many of which were done by Harry Lucey, and lots of great stories in a giant format. Parents often used these as the ideal stocking stuffer for their children’s Christmas stockings. Most of the stories played around Christmas themes of some sort and, though some used standard Archie situations, many were quite inventive. All the main characters were present, and there were usually a couple of stories in which some of the gang’s parents played more prominent “speaking” roles. Normally, most of the peripheral characters showed up in Christmas Stocking issues also, such as the Moose and Midge story “Santa Cross” published in #4 (Win 57). Moose was chosen to play Santa Claus for the school Christmas party and began wearing the red suit to get into character a week before the event. The resulting twists and turns took on the usual teen romantic implications — with everyone winding up with his or her deserved partner.

Archie in the 1960s

Just as the 1950s at Archie really began to evolve in the late 1940s, so the story of the 1960s really starts in the late 1950s, with creators like George Gladir, Orlando Busino, Sy Reit, Tom Moore, and Frank Doyle. These fellows joined in with many of the artists who had been with Archie since the 1940s to create several new titles meant to keep pace with a changing age in American culture.

In 1958, that combination of creators produced the first of the new-style Archie comics. Life with Archie brought the characters into the real world and placed them into various adventures outside their usual personal interactions. It was like Archie Meets World, and readers took this new approach to heart. Sy Reit wrote many of the full-length Life with Archie stories with both an amazing new sense of seriousness combined with a tremendous amount of creativity and imagination. The action was brilliant, yet the stories still provided the laughs readers had come to expect from an Archie comic book. It was in the pages of Life with Archie #42 (Oct 65) that readers first met Archie’s version of the squeaky-clean super-hero Pureheart the Powerful, often drawn by Bob White, and in Life with Archie #48 (Apr 66) that his nemesis Evilheart sprang upon the scene. A.R.C.H.I.E the man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. battled the agents of C.R.U.S.H. for the World Protective Association in Life with Archie #45 (Jan 66), as the well-written servings of satire continued.

In September 1959 the first issue of Archie’s Madhouse was released on the public. That first issue was almost like reading a combination of fan-club newsletter, Sunday comics “strange fact page,” and an Archie version of Mad. The normal Archie characters were used to parody all sorts of pop-culture tends and fashions, as well as just general segments of real life. In that first issue, the writers made fun of the government, artists, nursery rhymes, signage, fashion clothing, news headlines, trading stamps, award shows, high-heeled shoes, tail fins on cars, zoology, plastic, and more. There was plenty of room for artists and writers to experiment; lots of new ideas were generated on the pages of Archie’s Madhouse. Jughead played a central role with two features that had staying power: “Jughead Dipsy Doodles,” in which Jug played an artist in black and white who painted in color, and “Aunt Juggie’s Advice to the Lovelorn.” The first issue had a cover that was a jigsaw puzzle of Archie, with the gang trying to put him together. That kind of creative art appeared on Madhouse covers through the 10¢ era, ending in 1961. Later covers adopted a more conventional (and less interesting) bordered format.

George Gladir and Orlando Busino both wrote on Archie’s Madhouse during its run in the 60s. Sabrina had her first appearance in Archie’s Madhouse #22 (Oct 62), and the title remained popular until the end of the 1960s.

It was clear that the feeling of freedom that swept over society in the 1960s had its effect on the crew at Archie Comics. With these first two titles — and continuing throughout this decade — Archie embraced popular trends, fads, and styles and experimented with a variety of odd stories and creative art.

Some new characters were introduced with their own titles. A few, like That Wilkin Boy and Josie would prove popular, while others, like Seymour, would prove worthy of only a few issues.

A concentration on parody, especially involving television, seems to have been a strategic approach on the part of the publisher. This decade saw the introduction of all the Archie super-hero parodies, the Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.AL.E. (Man from U.N.C.L.E. parodies), the Bats and Madhouse parodies, and others.

In 1964, readers were first given that treasure of a series Archie and Me, with Mr. Weatherbee finally achieving a starring role. It only seemed fair, simply as compensation for all of the troubles Archie laid at his doorstep since the 1940s. A second ’40s character also got her due a year later, when Betty and Me was spun out. Both of these titles offered imaginative and well-written stories and remained in production for decades.

The success of these two reinvigorated approaches led to a bit of repetition when in 1966 Reggie and Me was introduced. Not quite as strong as the other two “and Me” titles, Reggie still satisfied readers for almost 15 years. The popularity of the assortment of “Archie Joke” series gave rise to two additional titles released in 1967 and 1968. Jughead’s Jokes (#1, Aug 67) was a series with plenty of short quick laughs playing on the usual Jughead themes. Reggie’s Wise Guy Jokes (#1, Aug 68) finally found a good choice of format for an independent Reggie series. That smirking attitude of supremacy, which had always been Reggie’s trademark, was put to good use in these fast-paced punchline snippets.

Though so many new titles emerging from Archie Comics might logically cause a backlash of reader overload, Archie seemed more popular than ever. The teen humor of Archie still satisfied parents, and kids were still reading and laughing at the antics of a gang that never seemed to grow old, even though in some ways the world seemed to have almost passed them by.

Having introduced so many new titles during this decade, the company might have been predicted to take a rest, but two of the best new 1960s titles were yet to come. Archie’s TV Laugh-Out (#1, Dec 69) and Everything’s Archie (#1, May 69) were unveiled near the end of the decade, and they had a flavor all their own. There was an originality about these two comics that made them special.

The first issue of Archie’s TV Laugh-Out featured super cover art of all the gang laughing hysterically. Sabrina was given a staring role in this title, which was noted on the cover until 1977. The title featured a wide variety of design styles. There were one-pagers, two-pagers, and full-length stories intermixed with two- and four-panel single pages, and there were even a few single-panel gags and one-line jokes under the title “Quick Quirks.” The art was fast and furious, with lots of action and movement to keep the reader involved. All the early issues of Archie’s TV Laugh-Out were giants with 25¢ cover price from 1969 to 1973.

Everything’s Archie was also released as 25¢ giants for the first 30 or so issues during the same time period. It employed a similar, but less cluttered and frantic, format. The art had room to breathe, and the stories depended on circumstance to generate the humor. All the normal Archie characters were there, and single-page stories were used to break things up between the longer ones. Sometimes, readers would come across a Li’l Jinx story or rest their eyes on a Betty and Veronica pin-up page. The attention to fashion trends and popular culture for which Archie had become known remained at the forefront in Everything’s Archie throughout the 1970s, and the title lasted into the 1990s.

Archie in the 1970s

In the waning days of the 1960s, Archie Comics generated many new titles that would remain successful through the entire decade of the 1970s. Archie had a great staff of artists including Harry Lucey and Dan DeCarlo, who really knew how to draw those girls, and Bob Bolling and Bob White, who created with a great sense of imagination, which pleased the reader no end. The same group of fast and funny writers remained, with George Gladir (who wrote the first “Sabrina” story) and Frank Doyle (who wrote the first “Jingles” story for Christmas Stocking and the first “Bingo” story) — and Tom Moore (who had written gag and filler pages at Archie from 1953 to 1961) returned in 1970.

By 1970, Archie Comics had almost 20 active titles in print. Most were popular, and Archie seemed secure. The company capitalized on its wealth of excellent back material by coming out with new digest comics, which reprinted some stories from the ’50s and ’60s combined with new stories. New Archie readers could get a glimpse of what the past had been like, and old fans could be introduced to new material while enjoying rereading vintage material. It was a win-win proposition, and the digests became a great success, remaining popular to this day.

With the success of Archie’s TV Laugh-Out, Sabrina, who had been appearing in an assortment of titles since 1962 (two years before Bewitched introduced Samantha Stephens to TV viewers), became a popular witch. In 1971, the company gave her a separate comic book all her own. Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch drew a following from the very first issue (Apr 71) and proved that Sabrina was more than a novelty. A Saturday TV show followed that fall. Sabrina continued to pop up in other titles and on other animated shows through most of the decade.

But such success stories on new Archie titles in the 1970s were limited. The atmosphere for comics publishers in the mid- to late ’70s was overcast with a lack of interested readers and a stiff decline in sales. Archie Comics had gained great numbers in the ’50s and ’60s by staying closely in touch with the trends and fashions of its teen-and-younger readership, but lighthearted pop trends in the ’70s were few and far between. Mainstream culture had become much more focused on larger more serious issues, and Archie Comics was obliged to try to adapt its proven formula to reflect growing public concerns for integration, the environment, and the search for world peace.

Archie at Riverdale High (Aug 72-1987) was the quintessential example of what happens when a serious world meets a humorous comic book. Riverdale High featured quality issues with lots of drama and some comic elements, adding depth to many new characters. Readers saw more of Archie’s African-American friends Chuck Clayton, his girlfriend Nancy Harris, and, of course, Coach Clayton. Archie at Riverdale High touched on every key subject of the day, but always at the core was the gang saving the day.

Sometimes, it was actual lives being saved — as on the cover of #3 (Oct 72), where Archie was saving Reggie from drowning. In other cases, it was simply saving a bit of the past, as when Archie drummed up support from all the students to save the old Riverdale High School in #8 (Jul 73). As the title progressed, more lives were saved, more litter was picked up, sports clubs were reformed, and more bad attitudes were won over by Archie’s righteousness. The art was good, the stories were good, but the outrageous silliness of earlier years was gone.

Archie in the 1980s

The 1980s seemed to usher in an age of confusion at Archie Comics. Some long-running titles begun in the 1960s were ended, while other, new titles were launched and folded quickly — giving readers handfuls of issues each. As American culture began to fracture into many splinter interest groups, Archie had no large base to watch and satisfy.

While 10 new titles sprang up at Archie Comics in the 1980s, nearly 20 ongoing titles were canceled or redesigned. Some had been mainstays of the line, like Archie’s Joke Book Magazine, which had started in 1953, and Adventures of Little Archie, created in 1956. The great successes of the late ’60s and early ’70s Archie’s TV Laugh-Out and Sabrina the Teenage Witch stopped production in 1986 and 1983 respectively. Madhouse Comics finally gave out in 1982, after a series of title and content changes designed to give it fresh life had failed. Even the venerable Pep Comics, where Archie had first appeared in 1941, was canceled in 1987.

Also in 1987, Laugh Comics had a highly publicized relaunch, which kept it in print till 1991. Jughead began a second volume, restarting at #1 (Aug 87), which generated attention for the title and gave Jug some playful new storylines. And the old “Girls” got a fresh new look and title, as Archie’s Girls, Betty and Veronica changed to simply Betty and Veronica. But 1987 also saw the end of Archie and Me, one of the best new starts of the mid-1960s, and a main title of the 1970s: Archie at Riverdale High.

The social-consciousness approach, which had developed out of the combination of Archie’s “keep an eye on teen trends” and the growth of teenagers’ more adult concerns, had left Archie in the dust. But with lots of talented writers and artists still on hand and devoted to the genre, Archie would hang on through the 1980s, searching for a new direction with their old friends from Riverdale. Through this period, the one thing that could always be counted on was an abundance of wonderful covers by Dan DeCarlo.

Since various Archie Digests had proven themselves with readers, Archie used this model in the 1980s and early 1990s to create more in this popular line. And, if a “Digest” was good, then a “Double Digest” would be better — and it was, not only because of size, but also because of their inclusion of more of the stories from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. All three main “Digest” titles spun off “Double” versions in the 1980s.

Veronica got her own title (#1, Apr 89), which gained immediate readership and is still being produced today. Katy Keene (introduced in Wilbur #5, Sum 45, and endowed with her own title from 1949 to 1955) also resurfaced in 1983 (starting with Katy Keene Special, #1 Sep 83), with issues combining great new art by Dan DeCarlo and great old art by Bill Woggon.

Another bright spot in the ’80s was Betty’s Diary (#1, Apr 86). The concept was simple — peek in on what Betty writes in her diary — but the depth of feeling and compassion brought to Betty’s thoughts by writers like Kathleen Webb, Rod Ollerenshaw, and Frank Doyle made this series a standout. It only lasted from 1986 to 1991, but it showed that the writers at Archie were capable of creating real passion without relying on topical subjects and causes.

The quick-on-the-scene, quick-off-the-scene parade of new titles from Archie Comics continued into the early 1990s with the rapid introduction and cancellation of five interesting, but ultimately unsuccessful, comics. Archie’s Riverdale High was an attempt to play off the TV-movie appearance of Archie and the gang in Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again. The movie was not well received, and the series was cut after eight issues. Next came Archie’s Explorers of the Unknown, lasting only six issues; this attempted to inject some of the exciting adventure qualities that readers had come to enjoy in the Life with Archie series in the 1960s, but, again, there was only limited response.

Jughead had three short-lived but weirdly entertaining and imaginative comic series in the early 1990s. Jughead’s Diner, Jughead’s Time Police, and Jughead’s Pal Hot Dog ran for seven, six, and five issues respectively. In Jughead’s Pal Hot Dog #3, readers got to see the title character as a super-hero in “Hot Dog Is Bark-Man, The Canine Crusader!” This was coupled with Hot Dog as Humphrey Dogbark, Hardboiled Detective in “The Maltese Beagle.” Jughead’s Diner was an off-the-wall manic comic in which the design was as imaginative as the story line. Issue #5 gave readers a fantastic bowling story in which hardly any of the pages contained a square panel Jughead’s Time Police was a joy to read, with nicely complicated time-travel story threads to keep readers involved and a bit more conventional approach in its lovely art. It also provided one of Jughead’s few romances, this time with a future relative of Archie: January McAndrews.

All three of these new Jughead titles were creative and fun, but the public didn’t take to them. So, just as in the 1980s, it was another cartoon character that would assist Archie Comics in reaching the readership. Sonic the Hedgehog joined the Archie Comics line-up (#0, Feb 93; #1 Jul 93), and he — along with many of his spin-off titles — are still healthy today.

But in 1992, there began to be light at the end of the tunnel. With Archie and Friends (#1, Dec 92) the covers were nice, the stories were fun, and that sense of playfulness — which had been missing for so long from the interactions of Archie’s big five characters, Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica, and Reggie — had returned. Betty finally got her own title for good (#1, Sep 92), and it, too, was a treasure.

It seemed that these new successes — and, perhaps, a change in the demographic of comic readers — was buoying the confidence at Archie. It seemed to have gotten its groove back, and, with the creative juices flowing, staffers set about establishing several new titles.

Archie’s Christmas Stocking was broken out on its own in 1993, Sabrina’s Halloween Spook-Tacular hit the stands in 1993, Archie Meets The Punisher caused a great stir in 1994, as had The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie in 1991. When Archie’s Super Teens came out in 1994, everyone took notice, and many old-time readers and collectors of Archie Comics made a point of following this series.

Similar reaction and press were garnered from the mega “Archie’s Love Showdown” segments in various titles, also in 1994. Cheryl Blossom had first appeared in Archie’s Girls Betty & Veronica #320 (Oct 82) and caused plenty of agitation among the girls by adding a new dimension to the competition for Archie’s affections. Cheryl was brash and bold, but she dropped from the pages of Archie Comics without any indication of what might have happened to her — or her brother Jason. When the smoke cleared from the four initial installments of the “Love Showdown,” which can be read in Archie #429 (Nov 94), Betty #19 (Nov 94), Betty and Veronica #82 (Dec 94), and Veronica #39 (Dec 94), it was Cheryl who had come from out of nowhere to win Archie’s affections.

All was not over yet, however, as Betty and Veronica reinstated the balance in Archie’s Love Showdown Special #1 later. Cheryl’s popularity was strong enough, however, to win her guest appearances in various issues for the next few years — and her own comic book titles starting with two mini-series (#1, Sep 95; #1 Jul 96) and then an ongoing series (#1 Apr 97), which was well received and stayed in the line-up for quite some time.

Archie’s Spring Break began in 1996 and is still running annually, demonstrating that the ever-popular beach theme running on Archie covers since the 1950s still has a strong following among Archie fans.

But the biggest success of the 1990s for Archie was the triumphant return of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sabrina’s return was twofold, with a TV launch of a new comedy series starring Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina and a one-shot comic book, which quickly turned into a permanent title. Most of the first 27 issues had a prominent picture of Hart on the cover, along with a Dan DeCarlo-drawn Sabrina. The series remained a top seller through 1999, and in 2000, it began with its second volume, restarting the numbering and dropping Hart. More recently, the series has taken on a manga-style look.