Beginning with their first appearance in 1941, Archie and the Riverdale gang have been synonymous with wholesome entertainment. First appearing in the pages of Pep Comics, published by MLJ Publishing, Archie soon became a worldwide phenomena. The influence of the Riverdale gang casts a long shadow: in the 1997 movie Chasing Amy two characters nearly come to blows over an argument concerning the Archie characters, The Simpsons season six episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" suggests that Riverdale is merely a Jalopy ride removed from Springfield, and a season five episode of LOST is entitled "Jughead." While Archie is enjoying something of a modern Renaissance, the broad legacy already established indicates that Riverdale was always founded on something that possessed universal appeal.
During the comic book scare of the 1950s, the Archie series was frequently omitted from the comic books burned because the antics of the Riverdale teens were considered too innocuous to be dangerous to the minds of children. In fact, Archie co-creator John L. Goldwater was one of the people in charge of the committee that created the restrictive Comics Code, which prevented comics from including the walking dead, vampires, or anything considered lewd. Today, Afterlife with Archie features zombies, Vampironica includes vampires, and Riverdale uncovers the seedy underbelly of the seemingly idyllic town. But while classic Riverdale may seem tame compared to the modern standard, there were many times when classic Archie was groundbreaking. Nevertheless, modern Archie continues to be endlessly inventive, repeatedly pushing the limit to find new ways to approach the iconic denizens of Riverdale. Here are 11 times the class Archie comics were groundbreaking (and 11 times the modern stuff completely broke the mold)!
22 CLASSIC: ARCHIE VOL I
Archie Andrews first appeared on newsstands on December 22 in the pages of Pep Comics #22 (1941) by John L. Goldwater, Bob Montana, and Vic Bloom. Jughead and Betty also first appeared in that issue, with Veronica completing the cast four issues later. While the patriotic superhero The Shield had originally graced covers of the book, by 1944, Pep Comics covers were featuring Archie.
Archie and the Riverdale gang were a runaway success, and Archie #1 (1942) kicked off the first volume of a comic that would run for 666 issues, finally concluding its run in June 2015.
21 MODERN: ARCHIE VOL II
While Riverdale may have received a modern makeover three months after the original volume ended. With Archie #1 (2015) by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Andre Szymanowicz, and Jen Vaughn, the second volume of Archie began and the New Riverdale line was launched.
By transposing Riverdale and the characters who reside there into the present, the reboot has been emblematic of a creative rebirth for the world of Archie, with series like Betty & Veronica: Vixens following the BFFs as they join a biker gang and The Archies, featuring The Archies playing alongside Tegan and Sara.
20 CLASSIC: SUGAR, SUGAR
Music has long been an important part of the worlds of Archie. The number one single in 1969 was the song "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies, spending 22 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song was an instant pop classic, and a cover by Wilson Pickett charted on the Billboard Hot 100 the following year.
While the songs on the Everything's Archie album were recorded in studio by a group of musicians overseen by Donald Kirshner, the animated music videos featured Archie and the Riverdale gang performing the songs (along with some groovy dance moves).
19 MODERN: WEIRD COMIC BOOK FANTASY
On April 4, 2003, a new play was scheduled premier at Dad's Garage Theater Company in Atlanta, but the day before the curtain rose, a cease and desist letter arrived threatening legal action if the performance proceeded as written. The play by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had depicted Archie growing up, coming out as gay, and moving to New York City, but the legal complaint argued this threatened Archie's image.
Weird Comic Book Fantasy premiered days later, featuring a new title, an Archie twinner and historical figures from the 1950s comic book witch hunt like William Gaines of EC Comics.
18 CLASSIC: LIFE WITH ARCHIE VOL I
Beginning in 1954, the first volume of Life with Archie featured longer stories than the usual Archie comic. In addition to veering deeper into the melodrama, the comic included stories that featured high-concept plots and genre fare one might not expect to see in the town of Riverdale.
In some issues, stories set in parallel universes were included, such as the spy adventure The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. or superhero stories about Riverdale-alter-ego superheroes like Captain Hero, Superteen, and Evilheart. The first volume of Life with Archie ran for 286 issues, ending in July 1991.
17 MODERN: AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE
In Afterlife with Archie #1 (2013) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla, decades of apparent timelessness in Riverdale have left Jughead unprepared to emotionally deal with the loss of Hot Dog, the victim of a hit and run. Desperate for a solution, he turns to Sabrina Spellman, who uses an incantation from the Necronomicon to reverse the canine's journey over the Styx.
Sabrina's spell backfires (as Spellman's spells tend to), and the consequences are dire: Hot Dog returns and bites Jughead, transforming his famed insatiable appetite from a craving for burgers to a craving for human flesh!
16 CLASSIC: LIFE WITH ARCHIE VOL II
Nine years after the first volume ended, volume two began with Life with Archie #1 (2010) by Michael Uslan, Norm Breyfogle, Andrew Pepoy, and Joe Rubenstein. The comic presented two storylines, each featuring future versions of the Riverdale gang... but Archie is married to Betty in one timeline and Veronica in the other.
The comic originally featured pop culture coverage, and a section dividing the first issue stories included fantasy casting for a hypothetical Archie movie that included Stephen Colbert as Mr. Lodge. But as the story became more serious and the sci-fi concepts unspooled, the celebrity sections were left behind.
15 MODERN: JUGHEAD IS ASEXUAL
While Jughead is typically more interested in hamburgers than romance, there have been scattered stories that included love interests for Juggy over the decades. But in Jughead #4 (2016) by Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson, the "New Riverdale" incarnation of Jughead is revealed to be asexual.
Jughead explains to Kevin that his immunity to hormonal impulses affords him better judgement than his friends. Sure, Jug, but what happens when a giant sentient burger enters the picture? Find out (sorta) in Jughead #9 (2016) by Ryan North and Derek Charm.
14 CLASSIC: SABRINA SPELLMAN
Sabrina the Teenage Witch first appeared in Archie's Mad House #22 (1962) in a story by George Gladir, Dan DeCarlo, Rudy Lapick, and Vince DeCarlo. As a record turned behind her, Sabrina introduced herself and explained that she was a fashionable teenage witch who performed hexes on her Small High School classmates under the tutelage of head witch Dela.
In addition to appearing in her own cartoon, Sabrina, Super Witch (1977), Sabrina was famously portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart in the T.G.I.F. sitcom Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (1996).
13 MODERN: CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA
After the success of Afterlife with Archie, a companion series featuring Sabrina was given the green light. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 (2016) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack turns back the clock to the 1960s for this spooky, subversive tale (the first story arc is named "The Crucible" after Arthur Miller's McCarthy-era play about the Salem witchcraft crisis).
In addition to drawing inspiration from Stephen King and Edgar Allan Poe, the series pays homage to the history of Archie Comics. Antagonist Madam Satan has a history that predates Archie himself, having first appeared in Pep Comics #16 (1941).
12 CLASSIC: CHILLING ADVENTURES IN SORCERY
Another groundbreaking comic from the classic Archie era was Chilling Adventures in Sorcery #1 (1972), an anthology of horror comics that was "told by Sabrina."
In one story included in the first issue, "The Boy Who Cried Vampire" by Frank Doyle, Dan DeCarlo, and Rudy Lapick, Sabrina tells the tale of Stanley. When Stanley meets his Uncle Bruce at a party, his uncle hypnotizes him and when he comes to, he realizes there are two marks on his neck. Don't worry, kids, these spooky tales were approved by the Comics Code Authority!
11 MODERN: ARCHIE HORROR
As Afterlife with Archie became more popular, the potential for more horror based adventures became evident. The Archie Horror imprint officially launched with Afterlife with Archie #8 (2015) by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla, and Jack Morelli.
More titles have since been added to the line, each one combining Riverdale archetypes with horror genre tropes. In Vapironica, Ronnie becomes a vampire, Jughead: The Hunger reveals Juggy's appetite is derived from lycanthropy, and Blossoms 666 sees the Blossom twins competing to earn the title of Antichrist.
10 CLASSIC: HANNA-BARBERA CARTOONS
In 1970, Archie Comics joined forces with Hanna-Barbera, the animation studio behind Scooby-Doo: Where are You! and The Smurfs, to create the cartoon Josie and the Pussycats. After the original series was cancelled, the show was retooled and a sequel, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, began being aired in 1972.
The animated version of Josie and the Pussycats returned to Hanna-Barbera once more on "The Haunted Showboat," an episode of The New Scooby-Doo Movies that aired in September 1973.
9 MODERN: RIVERDALE & CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA
In 2017, Archie and the gang returned to the small screen with Riverdale. But while the characters and locations may be familiar, this incarnation of the Archie mythology combines elements of hard case mystery with high school drama.
This was followed by Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix in October 2018. While it borrows elements from the ongoing comic, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sets the action in the present day (and adds supporting characters named after residents of 1692 Salem).
8 CLASSIC: KEVIN KELLER INTRODUCED
In Veronica #202 (2010) by Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski, a new boy moves to Riverdale and Veronica is determined to make him notice her! She sends Jughead to investigate, who learns that new Riverdale arrival is gay.
Kevin appeared as an adult in Life with Archie #16 (2012) by Paul Kupperberg, Pat Kennedy, Tim Kennedy, Fernando Ruiz, Al Milgrom, Bob Smith, and Glenn Whitmore. That issue featured Kevin's marriage to Clay Walker and flashbacks to how they met during their deployment in the Iraq War.
7 MODERN: LIFE WITH KEVIN
During his appearances in the classic Archie comics, Kevin had some impressive adventures, even befriending George Takei. But he takes the next steps in Life with Kevin #1 (2016) by Dan Parent and J. Bone follows Kevin as he moves to the Big Apple after graduation from college to pursue a career in journalism. Kevin has to juggle the responsibilities of work with the struggle of dating, but fortunately, he's got Veronica to call for support.
While the comic was released exclusively in a digital format at first, Life with Kevin proved successful enough to warrant subsequent paperback printings.
6 CLASSIC: LIFE WITH ARCHIE #36
In Life with Archie #36 (2014) by Paul Kupperberg, Pat Kennedy, Tim Kennedy, Jim Amash, and Glen Whitmore, both parallel timelines explored by the series come to a single unifying conclusion!
Kevin Keller has been elected Senator and is pushing for increased gun control. Kevin is making a public appearance when he is the subject of an assassination attempt, and Archie sacrifices himself to save his friend's life. In the following issue, Archie's friends gather a year later for a ceremony renaming Riverdale High School in his honor.
5 MODERN: ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR
In Archie vs. Predator #1 (2015) by Alex De Campi, Fernando Ruiz, and Jason Millet, the Riverdale gang runs afoul of a notorious extraterrestrial bounty hunter while vacationing at Los Perdidos Resort. Targeting Veronica, the Predator viciously tracks the gang, following them back to Riverdale.
While the violence most commonly associated with the Predator franchise remains intact, the art of Archie vs. Predator closely resembles classic Archie style, making the gory pursuit even more unsettling that it might be if rendered more realistically.
4 MODERN: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS
In Josie and the Pussycats #1 (2017) by Audrey Mok, Marguerite Bennett, Cameron Deordio, and Andre Szymanowicz, the rock and roll trio is given an updated origin story that takes all of their previous incarnations into account.
While Melody occasionally breaks the fourth wall and Alexandra does indeed appear in the book, this version of the Pussycats is a little more grounded that certain other adaptions of the band, allowing for deeper exploration of the relationship between the women who make up the band.
3 CLASSIC: JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS
The 2001 movie Josie and the Pussycats followed the eponymous band as they faced the consequences of signing a deal with a sinister record executive. By making product placement central to the plot concocted by the villains, the movie satirizes the effect capitalism can have on creative expression.
The movie starred Rosario Dawson, Tara Reid, and Rachael Leigh Cook as the band, and also featured Alan Cumming and Parker Posey as the scene-stealing villains.
2 MODERN: META GAMES
In Archie #5 (2016) by Mark Waid, Veronica Fish, Jack Morelli, and Andre Szymanowicz, a fake ID that plays a pivotal role in the story bears Archie's picture coupled with the made-up, unverified name "Trip Zerdersky."
The favor was returned in Jughead #5 by Trip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson, and Andre Szymanowicz, when Jughead talks to a classmate named Wade who has been in high school for, like, seven years. And in Jughead #10 by Ryan North and Derek Charm, a biology teacher at Riverdale High bears a striking resemblance to former Jughead writer "Trip."
1 CLASSIC: JUGHEAD'S TIME POLICE
In the Archie Giant Series #590 (1988) story "Back From the Future," Archie's descendant from the 29th Century, October McAndrews, travels back in time to enlist Jughead's help in ensuring that the integrity of the timeline is maintained. Jughead is dumbfounded to learn that in the future the Riverdale City Museum includes a Jughead Wing with exhibits like the Hall of Associates and a replica of his room.
After a few more adventures with Time Marshal McAndrews, Jughead travels to the Watch Tower and joins the ranks of the Time Police himself in Jughead's Time Police #1 (1990).