Last week, Archie Comics published Afterlife with Archie, which, according to the website, is “Archie’s first direct market only, NOT for all ages horror title”. I forgot to have my comic shop order it, so I’m on the hunt for a first printing of the first issue. It looks incredible! Though it’s the first not for all ages horror title, it’s not the Riverdale gang’s first foray into things that go bump in the night. Let’s head to the spooky spinner rack and take a look at a couple of examples.
Archie’s Mad House
In 1959, Archie Comics started publishing Archie’s Mad House. It was a break from the norm for the kids from Riverdale. As a matter of fact, this title was closer to MAD Magazine than any Archie title. This cover features Jughead happening upon a monster party, and it’s why I bought the issue out of a bin at HeroesCon a couple of years ago. (Now I’m on the hunt for issue #22, since it was the first appearance of Sabrina.) Like MAD and DC’s Plop!, it was a little bit monsters, a little bit humor. Take a look at some panels from the first story, about MIT, the Monster Institute of Transylvania.
How about that second panel? The guy has a skull tie tack. And that spectre behind him? So incredible.
Here’s the best ad for a monster magazine I’ve ever seen.
This book is fun because it has a lot of slang from the time. This is how one of the stories ends.
By issue 19, Archie and his pals dropped from the title, but the madcap tone stayed. Stories focused on monsters, space, and other wacky stories. Eventually the title changed names several times and moved to the Red Circle Publishing Group. Issues 95-97 were strictly horror. After that, they became all comedy. I like this early issue, since it encompasses a little of both.
Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told by Sabrina
This one, kids, is a lot of fun. Did you ever wonder what it would be like if Archie Comics published horror stories drawn in their distinctive style? Wonder no more, because this title is what you need! The cover makes it look like maybe they are scary, but being an Archie title, I wasn’t sure.
Then, I looked a little closer and saw these guys.
Okay, let’s look inside. First up, a story called “Behold the Beast!” It’s a funny story about a whimsical monster, right?
Yikes, that was dark! Let’s see what this story has to offer. “The Boy Who Cried Vampire”–that should be fun, right?
Ummm, okay. So maybe let’s try “Assignment in Fear”. This doesn’t bode well.
Oh, a one-page comic. These are usually funny!
Hmmm. Fine, let’s read the last one, “Curiosity Kills”. It’s going to be dark and scary. I’m no fool anymore.
So that’s it! One funny monster book, and one scary. Just goes to show you should never judge a book by its publisher. I hope you enjoyed this trip back to the monsters in Archie’s closet! Stay tuned tomorrow for another spooky song from the haunted record crate!