Review by Frank Plowright
When considering the 1960s, the mind tends to hone in on the massive cultural shift that began in the middle of the decade, yet Archie comics, surely a reliable cultural barometer, here begin by reminding us of the years before then, not least via an introduction from Frankie Avalon.
Archie himself starts the decade keenly anticipating The Termites Five on the Ed Sullivan Show, and ends it with his own band The Archies, and a real world global hit with Sugar Sugar. The 1960s were the decade that Archie cemented his status as America’s Typical Teenager, but with that came a responsibility, and while never less than professional, it’s rare story here matching The Best of the Fifties.
As ever, Archie catalogues the nation’s trends, and a decade that begins by checking surfing, Beatle wigs and drag racing ends with miniskirts, flower power, and Nehru jackets. However, for this selection of stories at least, Archie is beginning to read like it’s written by older men who can see the surface of what they’re lampooning, yet are too out of touch to recognise anything other than the surface. The cultural shifts are just used as props for the slapstick.
Archie have been sadly remiss with the credits, so they’re taken from the extremely useful Grand Comics Database, but even they can’t identify any writers other than Frank Doyle. For this collection most of the artists are also beyond identification, but the electrified Archie on the left hand sample page isn’t far removed from Fred Hembeck (although isn’t him). The fashions there are some contrast with those from four years later on the other sample page, the artist again anonymous.