One of the many assignments that passed through Dan door was a script from Archies, then known as MLJ Comics. It was for the
just launched ‘Archie’s Gals Betty & Veronica’ title…but he wasn’t interested. Dan usually avoided until the last possible minute to do
their scripts as they paid one of the cheapest rates in the industry. While publishers offered around $50 per page and better scripts,
Archie only offered $20. However, Lipick persuaded DeCarlo to gave their script a shot. Thus, DeCarlo’s Archie Comics debuted in
‘Betty & Veronica’ #4.
When Timely collapsed, DeCarlo and Lee ventured into the world of syndicated comic strips with ‘Willie Lumpkin’ and ‘Life With
Lizzie’. One day, while trying to develop a strip of his own, Dan noticed his wife’s brand-new bouffant hair-do with a little black ribbon
on top. He then made a slightly exaggerated sketch based on her hair and, from that, he started to develop a teenage comic strip
named ‘Josie’ after his inspiration. United Features liked what they saw and offered to pick it up. Dan realized that he couldn’t do two
strips and his massive freelance book schedule at the same time, so he shelved ‘Josie’.
Gradually, Dan did more work for Archie than for his other clients. He soon went full-time with them after ‘Lumpkin’ folded and some
of the other comic book publishers were going out of business. Dan showed the Josie strips to Richard Goldwater, the son of Archie
publisher, John Goldwater, and tried to sell the strips off for a full book title. Instead, Richard pasted a ‘Dick & Dan’ credit on top and
showed them to King Features Syndicate. After King turned it down, Richard took it back to Archie and turned into a comic, though the
first issue didn’t launch until two years later.
Finally, ‘She’s Josie’ #1 appeared in February 1963. The first issue started
off with Josie and her friend, Melody, getting ready for a walk. Josie complains
that men are getting “flabby” due to the lack of exercise because they only
exercise when they chase after Melody. The two go their separate ways, and
Josie bumps into Albert. Actually, Albert almost falls on her while falling from a
tree (?). After their little exchange, Alex shows up in his sports car and offers
Josie a personal tour of his private gym. Josie accepts, and they leave poor
Albert, literally, in the dust.
Along the way, Josie spots Pepper, tells Alex to pull over and offers her a ride...
as protection against Alex; “I know your exercise,” warns Josie, “No wrestling
today!” When they arrive at the gym, the girls challenge Alex to a game of
‘Follow the Leader’. Even though he’s out of breath by the time they get to the
rings, Alex ends up wining by ordering his butler to take his place.
Disappointed, the girls leave.
From here, we are shown three vignettes with exercise as a plot thread. The
first round, ‘Neat Workers’, finds the girls with nothing better to do, so they offer
to clean Josie’s father’s garage as part of their new exercise plan. After
discovering the garage is filled to the rafters, Pepper goes out to find Sock and
Albert. She offers all-muscles-no-brain Sock an “opportunity to tone” his
physique, to which he replies, “Who do you want me to fracture, Pepper?”
However, when the girls get back, they discover the guys took everything out,
cleaned it and put it back in its’ original disorderly state.
The second round has the whole gang at the local pizza joint. In
keeping with the competitive spirit so far, Albert challenges Alex to
dance contest. Things get out of hand when this almost-friendly
game turns into a arm wrestling match. One broken table later, the
gang is kicked out. The third and final round, again, finds the girls
by themselves, this time at the local school running track and ends
with Melody being chased around the track by the now-active
football and track teams. A typical Melody ending closing out the
As with any long-running series, the origins are vastly different
from today. Josie’s haircut is a little larger and more flamboyant
with bigger curls going out instead of in. Pepper is the active cynic
of the cast; the horn-rim glasses and a smirk are the notable
giveaways and Melody is.....well, Melody; blonde, naive, oblivious,
sincere and, to top it all off, gorgeous. She will prove to be the most
stable character out of the entire cast, Josie included.
In a career-spanning interview in The Comics Journal with Mike
Curtis (#229/Dec. 2000), DeCarlo describes Josie and the girls:
“Josie was a contemporary character, much more so than Archie.
An intelligent kid, she had goals, and wanted to succeed in life.
She had a mother and father, but was very mature. (Pepper) was a
very bright girl. She was the original “Save The World”
environmentalist and protester. (Melody) was the knockout, the one
the boys fought over and fell over each other trying to get to. And
she never had a clue that she was causing it.”
Next up in the cast was Alexandra Cabot, Alex’s snobby yet cool and smooth
sister. She would be the pain-in-the-neck for Alex (sibling rivalry) and for Josie (over
Albert). However, as the issues progressed, she became more aggressive, more
involved and, therefore, short-tempered, blowing her cool like an atomic bomb.
Soon enough, the relationships and storylines were set. These would be the main
trio of Josie, Pepper and Melody; Josie’s frustrations with Albert and (later) his folk
music; Albert and Alex fighting over Josie and their competing manhood; everybody
chasing Melody; Pepper trying to set everybody and everything straight AND
Alexandra pushing Josie out of the picture for Albert and her growing ego. Sound
As in his days at Timely, DeCarlo would keep himself busy with other in-house
assignments. Among them would be almost all of Archie Comics covers, and
countless ‘Betty & Veronica’ stories. Dan, along with George Gladir, created
‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’ for ‘Archie’s Madhouse’ #22 (Oct. ‘62). She would
later have her own title and Filmation-animated series in 1972 and, of course, a live
action series for ABC-TV in 2000.
With all of this in place, the writers and editors didn’t have to worry much about running out of material. Issue #3 has the gang off on a
beach trip and ending up with stolen jewels while chaos ensues (Sound familiar? Again?). #6 has the trio in a haunted house (ditto?),
in #7, Josie gives Albert a guitar and she finds out how much he LOVES folk music. In #14, Melody gets kidnapped by a band of
gypsies. The cover of this same issue has the cast dancing around Gypsy Melody with Josie scolding, “I can clue you on your future
fortune if you don’t cool off this horseplay!” A rare authoritative moment from a laidback Josie!!
One of the funnier issues is #20. In the lead story ‘Rebellion’, Josie throws Albert out for paying more attention to his guitar than her.
Still upset, Josie decides to plan a protest against men and the rest of the trio join in as they paint signs like ‘Men Are Not Worthy’, ‘Let’s
Get The Girls Out Of The Kitchen’ and ‘Freedom For Women!’. As they start their demonstration in the center of the town, they run into a
group of disappointing older women. That is until the ladies read the girl’s signs and, fiercely agreeing with them, grab them from the
girls and take over the rally.
The ladies get so caught up in the message that they get physical with some of the male bystanders. This increasingly motley scene
scares the trio off just as the cops arrive. The girls get to Josie’s house only to be visited by a bruised and beaten Alex and Albert
announcing that the town was taken over by “wild women” (whom, by this time, included Josie’ mother). This is probably the first Archie
title ever to have a social riot within its’ pages.
‘Video Virus’ is the second story and is pretty well self-explanatory. The only TV set in Melody’s house is broken. We and the cast
discover Melody’s TV addiction. After laying a trail of devastation in her wake as she searches for TV, Melody gets herself into an
accident. She ends up in a hospital bed ... happily in her own private room, complete with a TV set and a ‘No Visitors’ sign on the door.
Number 22 had a couple of interesting cover appearances. The first was the cover gag showing a line of superheroes at an
employment agency. Some of them were created by comic legend Jack Kirby for Archie Comics for their own superhero line. The
second was the first appearance of the names ‘Dick ‘N Dan’ placed just under the ‘Josie’ banner, standing for Goldwater and DeCarlo.
In those days, it was incredibly rare for Archie to give any of their artists and writers ANY credit!
the original trio: Josie, Pepper & Melody!
Josie and Alexandra in their