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The Best of Archie: Dan Decarlo - Three Reviewers + One Book = ...4?
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Review by Scott Tingley, July 14, 2010

And now, a real and in depth, review of the first volume IDW's new oversized “Best of Archie” series, The Best of Dan Decarlo, by regular contributor, Mariah (age 5) :

Mariah : Cool! A super-big Archie made out of plastic!

Dad (me) : It's a hardcover book – not plastic.

Mariah : Right.

As usual, my daughter sums up a book in a line better than I can in a whole review (it might be said that my cat could sum up a book in a line better than I can in a whole review, but my cat is too busy catching squirrels and depositing them at my doorstep and has little time for review writing). As usual, I am going to keep typing though and louse the whole thing up.

Beginning his career at Archie in the mid 1950s, Dan DeCarlo soon became the main artist on Betty and Veronica, and drew every Archie character at one time or another in his nearly 50-year career with Archie. Reproduced from the original art and recolored to ensure the highest possible quality reproduction, the stories in this collection are from what is generally regarded as DeCarlo's best period—the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. (from IDWPublishing.com )

IDW has gone with an oversized hardcover format (softcover to come later??) that suits the colourful artwork well. There is a contents section that tells you the original publication date, issue name and #, and the rest of the creative team. This series is much like the excellent Archie Americana Best of the _'s series put out by Archie Comics which gives a sampling of the best stories by decade and is worth checking out as well.

The book also could have been called “The best of Dan Decarlo and Frank Doyle” since a quick scan of the contents page reveals that Doyle wrote all but three of the twenty-six stories reproduced here. If you can get by the use of telegrams and record players these stories read as fresh as they did in the late 50s to late 60s – the original time period these stories were published ( I laughed out loud TWICE while reading “The Phenomenon”). If you are unfamiliar with Decarlo (and I'm no expert myself) you might think his version of the Riverdale Gang looks like all the rest you have seen. That's because his style became (or so I've read) the ‘house style' for Archie comics. He's the one that figured out the look we take for granted now.

I do wish that this beautifully bound book had a foreword explaining the significance of the series, or the creator himself (on top of what was put in the brief bio of Decarlo at the end of the book). I also would have liked to have seen maybe one less story and in its place some original pages or sketches by the artist. These are just nitpicky things I would have liked to have seen included, but their absence does not take away from the fact that IDW has put out a beautiful book honouring a cartooning great that seems to be too often forgotten when great comic creators are discussed.

This turned out to be a little shorter than I thought it was going to be, so let's turn to our new contributing reviewer, Mr. Evans to see what she has to say on the subject:

“Meow.”

Well said, Mr. Evans. Well said.

Archie: The Best of Dan DeCarlo, Volume One ($24.99, full color, hardcover, 156 pages) will be available in stores in May 2010. Diamond order code MAR10 1052. ISBN 973-1600106545.

Also, I just found out that IDW is also publishing Archie: The Classic Newspaper Comics, Volume One, and it will reprint many of the Archie comic strips from 1946-1948 and will feature the art of Bob Montana (he drew the first ever Archie story and has some claim to the creation of the Archie franchise). I'll let you know more about it if I can lay my hands on a copy.

 



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