Pep Digital #22: Arrrchie’s Buried Treasure

By George Gladir, Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz, Kathleen Webb, Bob Bolling, Mike Pellowski, Angelo DeCesare,Rex Lindsey, Dan DeCarlo, Henry Scarpelli, Jeff Shultz, Dexter Taylor, Pat Kennedy & various (Archie Comics)
No ISBN: digital only

Since his debut in Pep Comics #22 (cover-dated December 1941) Archie Andrews has epitomised good, safe, wholesome cartoon fun, but the company that now bears his name has always been a deviously subversive one. Family-friendly iterations of superheroes, spooky chills, sci fi thrills, licensed properties and genre yarns of every stripe have always been as much a part of the publisher’s varied portfolio as the romantic comedy capers of America’s clean-cut teens.

As initially realised by John L. Goldwater and Bob Montana, the first escapade set the scene and ground rules for decades to come Archie has spent his entire existence chasing both the gloriously attainable Betty Cooper and wildly out-of-his-league debutante Veronica Lodge, whilst best friend Jughead Jones alternately mocked and abetted his romantic endeavours and class rival Reggie Mantle sought to scuttle every move…

Crafted over time by a veritable legion of writers and artists who’ve skilfully created the stories of teenage antics in and around the idyllic, utopian small town of Riverdale, these timeless tales of decent, upstanding, fun-loving kids have captivated successive generations of readers and entertained millions worldwide both on comic pages and in other media such as film, television, radio, newspaper strips, music and even fast food.

To keep all that accumulated attention riveted, the company has always capitalised on contemporary trends with which to expand upon their archetypal storytelling brief. In times past they have cross-fertilised their stable of stars through unlikely team-ups like Archie Vs. Predator, whilst every type of fashion fad and youth culture sensation has invariably been incorporated and explored within the pages of the regular titles. The gang has been reinvented and remodelled numerous times, even stepping outside the parameters of broad comedy to offer dramatic – albeit light-hearted – “real-world” iterations of the immortal cast of characters and clowns…

The company the idiot built is celebrating a major anniversary this December, so here’s a chance to revel in Archie’s unique madness with a bucket of yarns primarily sparked by the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, but which also finds room for a few golden oldies and classic romps on the theme of Corsairs and Privateers. This lot are all electronically cached by pirates of the airwaves commandeering a little of your time and attention for a digital-only experience. Enjoy International Talk Like a Pirate Day 2021, me buckos…

The madness begins without fanfare as the gang all go Gung Ho for the latest movie fad: dressing up for film fun and daydreaming personal period peril in ‘Pirates Ahoy’ as originally seen in Archie & Friends #87 (February 2005) courtesy of George Gladir, Rex Lindsey & Rich Koslowski.

Veronica #171 (August 2006) featured ‘One Man’s Treasure’ by Dan Parent & Jim Amash, with the star stuck rich kid finding actual buried (and cursed) loot on a film shoot but caring only about impressing hot star Johnny Dredge. Boy, does she!

‘Treasure Quest’ comes from Tales of Riverdale Digest #9 (April 2006): an Archie & Friends charmer by Fernando Ruiz & Al Nickerson, with Archie and Reggie completely fooled by an advertising flyer that looks like a treasure map. Cue signature chaos and catastrophe…

‘Soul Mates’ from Betty & Veronica #151 (September 2000 by Kathleen Webb, Dan DeCarlo and Henry Scarpelli) then pictures the Caribbean-vacationing teens as freebooting female furies, but still unable to curtail their legendary rivalry.

The Adventures of Little Archie #21 (Winter 1961-1962) then stands and delivers a classic mystery yarn by the brilliant Bob Bolling as ‘Pirates’ sees the mischievous kid exposed to a strange gas carried by an old weirdo on a bus – yes; much, much simpler times – that somehow lands him a stagecoach en route to the 18th century and his own pressganging.

Condemned to be a cabin boy on Blackbeard’s ship, he is present at the deadly sea battle between the wicked rogue and valiant naval hero Captain Morgan

Crafted at a time when kids were considered smarter and not made of porcelain, this is a grand romp blending action, suspense and humour in perfect balance, followed by a more modern take as (sadly uncredited) Little Jughead vignette ‘The Mystery Treasure’ from Jughead’s Double Digest #152 (September 2009) sees Arch and his ever hungry pal uncover a haunted chest, whilst Archie Giant Series Magazine #583 (September 1988, by Bolling & Mike Esposito) pits the juvenile lead in solo action against time-travelling arch nemesis Mad Doctor Doom who seeks buried loot from 1743 in ‘Close Scrape in Barnacle Bay’

‘Treasure Trove’ (Laugh #7, June 1988, by Gladir, Bolling & Esposito) then offers a fantasy lay with The Mighty Archie Art Players re-enacting an undying rivalry between righteous Cap’n Booty (Archie) and piratical Cap’n Skull (Reg) on the high(larious) seas, after which Veronica #180 (July 2007) refocused on romance in ‘An Old Story’ as Ronnie’s bookshop binge unearths a saucy bodice-ripper that sets her imagination racing before ‘Digging for Buried Treasure’ (Betty & Veronica #163, August 2001 by Gladir, DeCarlo & Alison Flood) sees the lasses reminiscing – and speculating – about their childhood games at the beach.

In Betty & Veronica Spectacular #55 (September 2002) Angelo DeCesare, Parent & Jon D’Agostino bring supernatural romance and comedy capers in two-parter ‘Teen Spirit’ as the girls become the obsession of a piratical spook who’s been a horny teen since his death centuries ago. Things turn ugly when he decides to get rid of rivals Archie and Reggie and drastic steps need to be taken…

Archie Comics Digest #235 (August 2007) revisited ‘Pirates Ahoy!’ courtesy of Pellowski, Scarpelli & D’Agostino as another movie (this one starring Jon E. Depth) provokes poolside nightmares for our red rascal, Ronnie enjoys a ‘Treasured Moment’ (Veronica #175, December 2006 by Pellowski, Parent & Amash) after pinch-hitting for Betty and reading pirate stories to little kids. one last brace of gold comes with ‘Festival Time’ (Betty & Veronica #256, December 2011 by Gladir, Jeff Shultz & Amash) as high school eco-club Green Girls organises a fundraiser celebrating women pirates like Annie Bonnie or Ching Shih, only to lose their men to thieving flirty rivals before we hit the far shore with ‘Scene in Public’ (Archie Comics Digest #259, January 2010 by Pellowski, Pat Kennedy & Amash) as Archie, Jughead and Reggie literally patronise a pirate-themed diner on their way to a sporting event in full supporters’ garb…

Daftly delightful, these arrr ideal example of classic comics fun: brilliant gems no Funnybook Fan or Crafty Corsair would care to share. Enjoy your spoils and bask in the knowledge that some treasures can really be yours alone.
© 2012 Archie Comic Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.