If there was a silver lining from this series of sad events, it reaffirmed a
sense of preservation of Dan’s work and legacy in many. One
fan/friend took this on as a mission, former Bongo Comics editor-in
chief, Bill Morrison. Immediately after Dan’s death, Morrison would
either be directly responsible or assisted in various multi-media
projects that helped reinforce Dan’s legacy.
First of many of these projects came in 2005 with ‘The Pin-Up Art Of
Dan DeCarlo’. This was part of a series of books containing pin-up art
from Humorama Publications of the 50’s and 60’s. Fantagraphics
Books began to publish digest-sized collections of each of the more
popular artists in Humorama cannon like Jack Cole, Bill Ward and
DeCarlo. Each set was edited by art collector Alex Chun and
Morrison offered an introduction for the DeCarlo book. Sales for the
DeCarlo title proved to be popular enough to warrant a ‘Volume Two’
In 2006, Morrison had written what might be considered the biggest
DeCarlo project ever; ‘Innocence & Seduction: The Art Of Dan
DeCarlo’, a deluxe 208-page coffee table-sized book filled with art
covering Dan’s entire life; high school, art school, his Army days,
his letters to Josette during the war, Timely and Archie comics and
right up to some projects after his termination, which included a
proposed Betty Page comic for Dark Horse. Like the pin-up books,
this was also published by Fantagraphics Books.
The book also featured a detailed biography and an touching
appreciation by Josie DeCarlo. In her piece, Josie notes that while
Dan is better known as an accomplished artist, “but to our family,
he was much more.”
“Dan and I had a wonderful life together. He was easy to live with,
due to his great sense of humor and compassionate nature. He
was always concerned with creating a happy life for us. He was
very thoughtful and caring.” Josie also noted that raising their
grandchildren no different than raising their own two sons with the
same amount of love and attention; “Most of all, he would relish
their every accomplishment, whether it was art or in something
else. He would never make them wait; even if he was burdened with
deadlines he would leave his drawing table to be with them.”
Much like Morrison, Josie continued Dan’s legacy with
appearances at conventions and related events until
her death on March 12, 2012.
Later in 2006, small publisher, Airwave Publishing,
offered a complete collection of the Jetta comic from
the 50’s. Outside of the reprinted pages, there was a
new Jetta story written by Chris Yambar and drawn by
Richard Maurizio done just for this edition. There are
tribute pin-ups by Batton Lash and one by DeCarlo
done in 1990. Morrison contributed not only the back
cover and the front cover for the “Special Limited
Edition” but a lengthy introduction piece called, ‘Dan
DeCarlo, Space-Age Cartoonist’.
….and as if the tidlewave of Dan material and the 2001 Josie CD wasn’t enough, the T.V. series Josie & The
Pussycats was finally released on DVD (8)! As a part of their Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection series, Warner
Bros. Home Video released a 3-DVD set of the show in 2007. The only bonus material is a 22 minute documentary
with a rather long title, ‘The Irresistible Charm of Dan DeCarlo: The Man and His Art – Profiling the Renowned
Cartoonist, Illustrator, Archie Comics Veteran and Josie and the Pussycats Creator Through His Art and the
Remembrances of His Biographer and Colleagues”. [deep breath]
As the title suggests, many figure heads are interviewed for this documentary: Stan Lee, Scott Shaw!, Mark
Evanier, Casey Kesem, Josie DeCarlo, Bill Morrison, Paul Dini, George Gladir and Michael Silberkleit. Yes, you
read that right, Michael Silberleit was interviewed. Up until now, Silberkeit had remained silent about anything
related to Dan and the lawsuits. This time, he opened up about Dan’s contribution to Archie and to the fact that
nobody came close to his style.
While Dan’s name and legacy was resurging, Archie decided to give Josie another shot for a comeback, though
from a different direction that one would not expect from this company.
In 2005, Archie had begun to experiment with Sabrina The Teenage Witch
by adding a visual Manga influence into the mix. To make a VERY long
background story short, Japanese Manga and Anime has been invading and
influencing these American fanboy shores since the mid 80’s and by in the
early 90’s, comic book companies like Viz Book had begun to sell official
translated titles like Mai The Psychic Girl to comic book stores. As the years
wore on, these influences managed in invade more mainstream comics like
Marvel ‘Magza-izing’ some of their their popular titles….and Archie was no
different, albeit many years behind the curve.
After a Manga-zed debut in Return To Riverdale #3 and Sabrina #68, Josie
& The Pussycats Go Manga #1 was released in early 2006. It was written by
the same author of the Sabrina Manga series, Tania Del Rio. This title re-
traced the band’s origins and even added a new character, Alan's younger
sister Alison and a rival group the Vixens. This revival didn’t last long and
had a quick end by the end of the year.
From here, Josie went back into limbo….deep limbo and if there was any
chance for her to get out of this, it would be quite a long shot. As it turned
out, some behind the scenes politics tied to Archies change of management
and fresher direction would be the shots to do the trick….a big noisy one!
Following the deaths of Richard Goldwater (2007) and Michael Silberkleit (2008), the keys to Riverdale where
handed over to Silberkleit’s widow, Nancy Silberkleit, and Goldwater’s half-brother, Jon Goldwater. The transfer
of power was not smooth as lawsuits soon flew everywhere surrounding Ms. Silberkleit sporadic abusive behavior
towards office employees. It would take four years for the dust to settle and when it was done, Nancy’s name would
only show up on the letterheads as co-CEO with no further involvement.
With the dust of transfer settled and with Jon firmly in charge, Archie began to change direction into new territory
with a new series of titles, covering such terrain that the company would have never considered even 5 years ago!
2010 first saw the introduction of Riverdale’s first gay character, Kevin Keller, created by Dan Parent. At first, he
was a character that Veronica failed to get with (but buddied up with Betty…OUCH!) and soon found himself in his
own comic title with much success. Other titles soon gradually began to address some no-no’s that the old guard
wouldn’t address like death, gun control (which launches the mini-series ‘Life Without Archie’), same-sex marriage
and other forms of the outside world invading Riverdale.
Then, through IDW Publishing, the company began to release a series of hard
cover books each showcasing many of their old artists like Harry Lucey, Stan
Goldberg, Samm Schwartz and Dan. In fact, as a testament to Dan’s output for
Archie, it took four books to cover a lot of his material, more than any other artists
in this series. As with the 2001 ‘The Best Of Josie’ collection, each book
contained digitally scanned and colored pages….only, this time, with his name on
each of these titles. Dan’s streak with IDW Publishing continued as they also re-
published Airwaves’ complete Jetta collection that same year.
….and the middle of this upheaval, Josie slowly returned.
In the pages of the main title, ‘Archie’, Josie and the Cats were featured in a story
called ‘Battle Of The Bands’ that pitted her against The Archies during a
American Idol show. However, a small sub-plot would soon ignite a major
spark…mainly between Archie and Valerie as their rivalry turns to friendship and
straight into a romance. Their new relationship goes through various challenges
with band politics, publicity and jalousies, well as set off riptides like Betty and
Trevor starting off on their own romance and Veronica budding up to Alex Cabot!
About a quarter into the story, Valerie goes for a walk
and her mind begins to wonder about her future with
Archie and a scenario unrolls unto the reader; Valerie
and Archie marry and leave their respective bands to
open a music school leaving The Archies to reform under
a new name and Josie finding a replacement with
Veronica. Events do accelerate when the couple expects
a baby girl, Star (left). However, this bliss is interrupted
by fame in the form of the paparazzi commandos from
the likes of TMZ.
Valerie snaps out of this and soon thinks about other
scenarios that turns down scarier paths. This time her
imagination gets all caught up in the drama and she
snaps out of it in a fit of panic. Archie finds her and both
make a pack to focus their relationship on “Here And
Now!” Dilton Doiton over hears and utters words you’d
never read in a Archie comics of yore to the reader:
“Roman poet Horace coined the phrase ‘CARPE DIEM’! It
means ‘SEIZE THE DAY’!!”