Betty Cooper is a character who you could easily hate if you didn’t like her so much. She’s cheerful, always ready to help, never impatient, intelligent, creative, mechanically inclined, optimistic and nice. In the three stories collected here, we get to see those traits and more as she handles a drive with Archie, an imaginary friend come to life and trying to get organized.
The charm of George Gladir’s stories, “The Great Birthday Bash” and “The Big Mess,” is that they’re so down to earth. Both of them deal with situations readers can immediately relate to, which automatically makes Betty more relatable. In the first story Archie is driving Betty to Veronica’s birthday party. Everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. The car breaks down; Archie doesn’t have gas money; they get stuck on the road. But through it all Betty is wonderfully sunny. She makes a great role model. In “The Big Mess” Betty asks Nancy for help decluttering her room. Again, readers can sympathize with the trouble Betty has getting rid of things even as they chuckle over it. Tim Kennedy, Mike DeCarlo and Jack Morelli provide some beautiful art for both stories. Kennedy uses close-ups to great effect, showing how the characters feel. There’s one panel of a pop-eyed Betty that’s a bit frightening, but that’s balanced by one of the prettiest Nancy’s I’ve seen in a long time.
Bill Golliher gives us a fantasy in “A Friend to the End” that’s still grounded in very real emotions. When Betty’s imaginary friend Miss Fablo reappears in her life, she discovers it can be hard to put away “childish things.” This story is a celebration of imagination, friendship and growing up. Golliher brings in the fantastic elements so naturally, it seems absolutely plausible. There’s humor as Betty deals with the headstrong Miss Fablo and some sweet moments too. Pat Kennedy’s art is gorgeous. There are a couple of panels of Miss Fablo that are absolutely stunning. I think it’s the hair, but at times she looks very like a Jack Kirby character, circa 1961. Kennedy also packs a lot of action into the panels with posing, flying, cars leaping over hills and dogs racing across the page.
If you’re looking for a comic with positive characters and fun stories, Betty #191 fits the bill.