Review: ‘Little Archie and His Pals’ One-Shot
Little Archie and His Pals (One Shot)
By Art Baltazar and Franco
The creative team of Art Baltazar and Franco have a lot of fun playing in other people’s sandboxes, turning out little-kid versions of everyone from the Superman to Hellboy. Now they are turning their hand to Archie comics with a series of three one-shots: Little Archie, Little Sabrina, and Little Josie. The trilogy will be collected in a single volume as Little Archie by Art & Franco, to be published in December.
Unlike most Archie comics, this entire comic is one single story (although it meanders quite a bit). It starts with Sabrina’s cat, Salem, sneezing out three cats—one red, one blue, one yellow. We only see the red cat in this comic; perhaps the other two will appear in the Sabrina and Josie comics, but if there’s one flaw in this story, it’s that there’s no explanation for why we never see them again.
Anyway, the red cat hops into Archie’s house and proceeds to cause havoc. It jumps into a basket of laundry and emerges with a heavy charge of static electricity. The electric cat fries Archie’s homework and he winds up having to sit in detention and write “I will not forget my homework” 1,000 times—but then it shows up at school and rescues him by duplicating the papers so he finished quickly. He also gets the power to shock his classmates, which he promptly abuses. But when the cat charges up Ms. Grundy, things really go haywire—she turns into an electric zombie and infects Mr. Wetherbee as well. This is not The Electric Walking Dead, though—the scene quickly cuts away before too much carnage occurs.
It’s a nice idea to base the story on something everyone instinctively understands, static electricity, and Art and Franco really run with it. They also pull off the neat trick of staying true to the Archie spirit while adding their own twists. The characters are all recognizable, but they also have a vividness about them that is reminiscent of real kids—especially the snub-nosed Archie. While Betty and Veronica have exactly the same face in the traditional Archie comics, Art and Franco give them different head shapes and expressions. (Take a look at that cover to see what I’m talking about.) And they have a cute running gag with Jughead caching hamburgers all over the school and producing them from unlikely places.
Although the kids in my life really liked Art and Franco’s Eisner Award-winning Tiny Titans, I thought those comics had too many in-jokes and references that kids wouldn’t understand. The real audience seemed to be nostalgic adults. Art and Franco’s take on Little Archie doesn’t have that problem, because the original property is a kids’ comic to begin with. The storytelling is clear, and for the most part the vocabulary is simple. It’s light and sweet, filled with color and humor, and a real treat for young readers.
There’s a preview of this comic at CBR, and a collection of Bob Bolling’s original Little Archie comics is available on comiXology—it’s included in the comiXology Unlimited service.
About Brigid Alverson
Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.
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