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When Archie Comics Chose to Laugh-Out Rather Than Laugh-In

This is Foggy Ruins of Time, a feature that provides the cultural context behind certain comic book characters/behaviors. You know, the sort of then-topical references that have faded into the “foggy ruins of time.” To wit, twenty years from now, a college senior watching episodes of "Seinfeld" will likely miss a lot of the then-topical pop culture humor (like the very specific references in “The Understudy” to the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding scandal).

Just a couple of hours ago, I wrote about how Sabrina got her own ongoing series in 1969 to coincide with her getting a regular feature on the Archie Comedy Hour cartoon series of the same time. However, there is another interesting side aspect to that ongoing series that makes it an interesting comic book and piece of cultural history. You see, it was an attempt by Archie Comics to transform a hit TV show into a comic book series!

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Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was the number one show in the country in both the 1968-69 TV season and the 1969-70 TV season.

Hosts Dan Rowan and Dick Martin would do some jokes and they would also segue into the "meat" of the show, which was both quick jokes from the "joke wall," where cast members and guest stars would pop out to make a quick joke...

and also a series of quick sketches from the cast of the show, like the great Arte Johnson...

The rapidfire succession of jokes was a shock to the cultural senses of the era.

Well, Archie's TV Laugh-Out also followed that format.

It opened and closed with a Sabrina the Teenage Witch story, with the first story in the first issue involving Sabrina inviting Archie and his pals and gals to a party at her house, with her Aunt Hilda being a jerk until Sabrina's cousin Ambrose "zaps" her...

And then 30 pages or so of short rapid fire half and full page bits, like these Sabrina gags...

before ending with a second Sabrina story.

However, the concept really never translated, so by the third issue, it was pretty much a standard Sabrina comic book series...

If anyone else has a suggestion for a future edition of Foggy Ruins of Time, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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