Writer: Craig Boldman
Artist: Rex Lindsey
Publisher: Archie Comics
When Jughead brings his new Palace Guard’s hat to school to “…add interest to an otherwise dull day” he ends up being the subject of a bet and Archie ends up in hot water with Veronica.
The idea is silly, but the characters act smart. And in character. Jughead takes the bet to stand silent as a post because he’ll do anything for food. Reggie stirs up trouble between Archie and Ronnie so he can get a date with Ronnie. Archie loses his second chance with Ronnie because he acts without thinking as per usual. What they do might be dumb, but it’s a logical extension of their personalities.
Rex Lindsey’s cinematic art style adds immensely to the story. He’s constantly moving in for a close-up, and then moving back for a long shot. He uses three-quarter circle frames, off-set photo frame panels, diverse lettering styles, and abstract backgrounds to vary each page’s look. He’s not afraid to use captions or color a word balloon to get the character’s feelings across – though that’s almost unnecessary as his style is extremely expressive. The characters have body language that’s easily read.
In “Panic on the 13th Floor,” Boldman and Lindsey take the question “What’s the worst thing we could do to this character?” and answer it with “Trap Jughead in an elevator with three beautiful models and no food.” Again the team takes what could have been a pedestrian story and makes it bright with clever writing and expressive art. Each of the models is an individual character who reacts to Jughead and his “panic” attack with a different tone. Even if you couldn’t see the girls, you’d know you were listening to three distinct individuals by the way they speak. It’s a nice attention to detail that not all writers take the time for.
The combination of bright and soft pinks with the varied shades of green give this story something of the look of a bright, off-beat anime. It also reads the same way, with slapstick and snacks falling from heaven keeping it surprising and fresh.
“The Suspenders is Killing Me” is a Laurel and Hardy routing featuring alternately Jughead and Reggie and Jughead and Mr. Weatherbee. It’s a simple gag – Jughead wears suspenders to school, only he has them on backwards. The rest of the five pager is spent on him trying to get them turned around while mayhem ensues.
The physical comedy is well-staged and Jughead and Reggie’s banter is sharp; plus readers get Mr. Weatherbee’s impression of Jughead. Like most of us, he’s in some doubt as to whether Jughead’s ineptitude is deliberate or not. It’s a point Jughead fans can argue for hours.
The art is fluid. It’s almost like seeing storyboards for a cartoon. The off-set panel showing Reggie getting swatted by the snapping suspenders is fantastic. And thanks to the onomatopoeiatic sound effects, readers can almost feel Reggie’s pain.
Lindsey also has an interesting motif with checks and X’s going on in this story. It’s a design choice that keeps drawing the eye back to the panel.
Jughead #185 is an outstanding issue fans of humor comics shouldn’t miss.
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