Sunday, October 23, 2011

Yoe # 3--The Best of Archie's Madhouse

Whilst I was deathly ill a few weeks back, I received several care packages including one featuring the three newest publications from Yoe Books. As ever, by way of full disclosure, what you are about to read are blatant but much deserved plugs, not reviews, because I was privileged to assist with all three of these volumes in various ways. So what exactly are these latest collections from the ever-fevered mind of friend and former muppet Craig Yoe? Well let’s take a look at them, in no particular order.

Well, I saved the best, in my opinion, until last. There are many Archie-themed books hitting the market these days but only two--so far--are from Yoe. The first--and I'm sure you already own a copy--is ARCHIE: A CELEBRATION OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE TEENAGERS (which I co-wrote) and here we have the second, THE BEST OF ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE!

I also wrote parts of the introductory material here but the real meat of the matter are the reprints in this one! ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE was the company's belated imitation of MAD which had already evolved into its magazine form by the time this came along. Originally it was just silly stuff featuring the gang from Riverdale but soon enough the title developed its own characters such as Chester Square and Lester Cool, Ronald the Rubberboy and others. 

The most popular character to debut in ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE was Sabrina, the Teenage Witch who would quickly graduate to her own title, her own cartoon series and, in time, a successful, long-running live-action sitcom in the vein of a modern BEWITCHED. Here debut appearance is found in this volume.

ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE became a showcase for writer George Gladir  (also a longtime CRACKED writer) and artists like Orlando Busino and Joe Edwards who weren't as prevalent in the regular Archie titles. Dan DeCarlo appeared often, though, and, as seen here, there was even one story by the great EC/MAD/Sci-Fi/Warren/DAEREDEVIL artist Wallace Wood!

With a ton of great possibilities to choose from, Craig mixed and matched and chose, then changed his mind and eventually settled on this marvelous, clever, fun and ofttimes hilarious mix, leaving plenty more for future volumes (hint, hint!).

For an old-time reader like myself, THE BEST OF ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE is literally a book you curl up with in a comfy chair and just read all the way through, snickering here, chuckling there, laughing out loud, chortling and even the occasional guffaw. 

Reproduced in crisp quality direct from the original books on quality paper (with the original color!), my absolute only complaint is that I question the artist identification from time to time (which wasn't in copies I proofed). Since Archie's policy at that time was to NOT identify artists or writers for some reason, it isn't always easy to do so. The covers are typically ornate Yoe productions with a nifty silver border wrapping around a very warped image of Archie and Veronica. 

But the material itself is what makes THE BEST OF ARCHIE'S MADHOUSE so much fun...and makes me hope it really is simply a Volume One. Of all the Archie related books out there currently--many of them quite entertaining--I promise you THIS one is the funniest!

1 comment:

Busy Gal said...

I have waited all my life for this book! LOVE Madhouse!