ARCHIES PAL JUGHEADMedium: Comic Books
Published by: MLJ/Archie Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Vic Bloom (writer) and Bob Montana (artist)
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There is, in American comic books, what might be called The Richie Rich Phenomenon. During the 1970s and early '80s, the so-called "poor little rich boy" starred in over 50
comics titles, including Richie Rich Bank Book, Richie Rich & Jackie Jokers, Richie Rich Cash, and many more, completely dominating the output of Harvey Comics. In the late 1940s, Archie Comics began to go down that road. The company, formerly known as MLJ Comics and concentrating, like most comics publishers of the time, on superheroes such as The Black Hood and Steel Sterling, renamed itself after what had become its most prominent star and started concentrating on teenage humor.
Archie had started in the back pages of Pep Comics #22 (December, 1941), where the cover featured stars were The Shield and The Hangman. But within a couple of years, he'd not only wrested the Pep Comics cover away from the super guys — he'd also begun starring in a comic book of his own. In 1949 they launched the first of his ancillary titles, when his pal Jughead, who had been around since the first story, got his own book. The first issue didn't have a cover date, but that's when it was copyrighted.
Jughead may have been the first comics supporting character to be featured in his own comic book. He's certainly the longest running. Despite a slight re-titling in 1965, when it was truncated to simply Jughead, and a rolling back of the odometer in 1987, when it started over with a new #1 (which was re-titled back in '93), Jughead has appeared on a regular basis for more than half a century. In the meantime, Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen (which was very likely inspired by the Archie Comics title) and Donald Duck's one-time supporting character, Uncle Scrooge have (at least in the U.S.) come and gone. Even Archie's Pals & Gals and Archie's Girls, Betty & Veronica, while they may have been published just as steadily, started a little bit later.
In fact, even a couple of Juggie's own supporting characters have had their own titles. Jughead's Pal Hot Dog, starring the pet that was introduced during the '80s, had five issues between January and October, 1990. And Big Ethel (surname Muggs, originally "Dinklehof"), the unattractive girl who used to throw herself at him, had a oneshot in 1982 from Spire Christian Comics (Barney Bear), which licensed the Archie characters for a few years.
Since the beginning, Jughead has been characterized as relatively laconic, unflappable and unimpressed with things that usually impress teenagers. For example, he isn't particularly interested in girls. He is, however, interested in food — in fact, he puts away an amazing amount of it, yet still maintains his slim figure. His full name, in contrast with the informal appellation "Jughead", is Forsythe Pendleton Jones. A fairly early addition to the accoutrements of his series was Ethel (introduced in #84, May 1960), who is mostly forgotten today. Later ones include Hot Dog and Juggie's baby sister, Jellybean.
Jughead has been present in alternate versions of Archie, such as an age-appropriate form in Little Archie and theme-appropriate forms in Archie 3000 and "The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E." When Archie was done as Pureheart the Powerful, Juggie was there as Captain Hero. He's also had a few alternate versions of his own, such as Jughead's Diner and Jughead's Time Police.
All told, Jughead's presence in the comic book field, both in regular comics and in reprint digests, has, over the years, been second only to Archie's own. Archie Comics eventually evolved the same way as Harvey, with emphasis on different ways of exploiting one character set (tho Archie has shown more staying power). Jughead was the first step in that evolution.