In Meta-Messages, I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.”
One of the real downsides of Archie Comics not including creator credits on their comics for so many years was the fact that their star writer and artists never really got the chance to get their fair share of acclaim while they were in their respective primes. The same goes for guys like Wayne Boring and Dick Sprang at DC Comics, whose whole careers took place in the “no credit” era.
One of the greatest Archie artists was a fellow named Samuel Schwartz. Schwartz went by the name “Sam,” but for his artist signature, he used two Ms to make it look a bit more distinct, so he would be “Samm Schwartz.”
Schwartz began working for Archie Comics in the 1940s, but it was during the 1950s that he became a dominant creative force, handling the Jughead spinoff series throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. He then left to take a job at the then-newly launched Tower Comics (which came out during that heady period around 1966 where superhero comic book sales were booming due to the Marvel Age of Comics and the Batman TV series). When Tower folded, Schwartz did some teen humor work for DC Comics but ended up back at Archie in the early 1970s, where he would continue to draw Jughead again until he was pushed off of the book in 1987 when the series relaunched (the late 1980s was a fascinating period in Archie history, and I’ve written about it a lot over the years – it was when they really tried to mix things up, like by suddenly having Jughead be in the middle of a love triangle of his own!).
Schwartz was 67 when he stopped being the regular Jughead artist, but he continued to work for Archie doing new Jughead digest stories (and other digest stories) for a number of years. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 77.
In any event, during his late 50s, Schwartz decided to move to Miami in 1979 to spend his later years in the warmer climate (like many New Yorkers over the years). He lived in Miami until he passed away in 1997. So sure enough, Schwartz’s longtime collaborator (possibly the greatest Archie writer of all-time, certainly the most prolific), Frank Doyle worked Schwartz’s move into Jughead #293, in a story drawn by Schwartz titled “Sam Has Moved to Miami.”
In it, Jughead is despondent that his good friend Sam has moved to Miami…
His pals decide to cheer him up by throwing together a junk sale to raise money so that they could buy Sam a going away present…
The sale goes over well and they give Jughead the money, which he then promptly used on a plane ticket to go visit Sam, who had just moved to Miami to get away from Juggy!
A very cute tribute by Doyle to his longtime co-worker. Obviously, this is beyond tame for what we usually do with meta-messages, as this is downright sweet, but I still think it qualifies as a meta-message, as Doyle is talking about a comic creator and the readers, if they didn’t know the backstory, wouldn’t get the joke.
If anyone ELSE has a suggestion for a good future Meta-Message, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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