|Josie and the Pussycats|
Josie and the Pussycats 48 Page Giant #1 (1993). Cover art by Dan DeCarlo.
|Publication date||February 1963 – October 1982; 1993|
|Number of issues||106|
Josie and the Pussycats (initially published as She's Josie and Josie) is a teen-humor comic book about a fictional rock band, created by Dan DeCarlo and published by Archie Comics. It was published from 1963 until 1982; since then, a number of one-shot issues have appeared without regularity. It was adapted into a Saturday morning cartoon by Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1970 and a live-action motion picture by Universal Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 2001. Two albums were recorded under the name Josie and the Pussycats: one as the soundtrack for the cartoon series, the other as the soundtrack for the movie.
Cartoonist Dan DeCarlo, who had spent most of the 1950s drawing teen and career-girl humor comics such as Millie the Model for Atlas Comics, that decade's forerunner of Marvel Comics, began freelancing as well for Archie Comics. In 1960, he and Atlas editor-in-chief Stan Lee co-created the short-lived syndicated comic strip Willie Lumpkin, about a suburban mail carrier, for the Chicago, Illinois-based Publishers Syndicate. Casting about for more comic-strip work, DeCarlo created the characters of Josie and her friends at about the same time. The artist's wife, Josie DeCarlo, Josie's namesake, said in an interview quoted in a DeCarlo obituary, "We went on a Caribbean cruise, and I had a [cat] costume for the cruise, and that's the way it started."
DeCarlo first tried to sell the character as a syndicated comic strip called Here's Josie, recalling in 2001:
When Publishers Syndicate in Chicago got interested in Willie Lumpkin ... I was also hustling my own strip and trying to get it published. Before we got to Publishers Syndicate, I went to United Feature in New York with two strips — Barney's Beat and Josie. [United Feature] told me they liked them both, and they'd like to see more samples, because I didn't bring much. I brought maybe six dailies of Barney's Beat and six dailies of Josie. That posed a problem for me. I knew I couldn't handle both strips and still keep up with the comic book work, because a syndicated bit was very risky. So, I decided to shelve Josie, and concentrated on Willie Lumpkin. [When that strip ended after] a year, maybe a year and a half[,] I quickly submitted the Josie strip back to the publishers and Harold Anderson, and he sent it back and said, 'It's not what we're looking for, Dan, but keep up the good work,' or words of that kind. Then is when I decided to take it to Archie to see if they could do it as a comic book. I showed it to Richard Goldwater, and he showed it to his father, and a day or two later I got the OK to do it as a comic book.
Josie was introduced in Archie's Pals 'n' Gals #23 (Winter 1962-1963). The first issue of She's Josie followed, cover-dated February 1963. The series featured levelheaded, sweet-natured redhead Josie, her ditzy blonde bombshell friend Melody, and the brainy, cynical, bespectacled brunette Pepper. These early years also featured the characters of Josie's Beatnik boyfriend Albert; Pepper's strong but dull-witted boyfriend Sock (real name Socrates); Albert's rival Alexander Cabot III, who chased after both Josie and Melody; and Alex's obnoxious twin sister Alexandra Cabot. Occasionally Josie and her friends would appear in "crossover" issues with the main Archie characters. She's Josie was renamed Josie with issue #17 (December 1965), and again renamed, to Josie and the Pussycats, with issue #45 (December 1969). Under this title, the series finished its run with issue #106 (October 1982). Josie and her gang also made irregular appearances in Pep Comics and Laugh Comics during the 1960s.
During the 1968 - 1969 television season, the first Archie-based Saturday morning cartoon, The Archie Show, debuted on CBS. The Archie Show, produced by Filmation Studios, was not only a hit on TV, but spun off a radio hit as well. (The Archies' song "Sugar, Sugar" hit the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in September 1969 and went on to be Billboard's number one "Hot 100 Single" of that year). Competing animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions contacted Archie Comics about possibly adapting another of its properties into a similar show. Archie Comics offering to redevelop the Josie series into one about a teenage music band, and allowing Hanna-Barbera to adapt it into a music-based Saturday morning show.
In 1969, Archie Comics made several changes to the Josie comic:
- In Josie #42 (August 1969), Josie met a heavily built blond folk singer named Alan M., who, over time, became Josie's on-again, off-again boyfriend (much to the chagrin of Alexandra, who was also immediately smitten with Alan M. and never missed an opportunity to try and steal him away).
- In Josie #43 (September 1969), Alexandra discovers that her cat Sebastian is actually a reincarnation of an ancestor of the Cabot family, who was executed for consorting with witches. Whenever Alexandra holds Sebastian in her arms, she can cast powerful magic spells. This ability would seem to give Alexandra an edge in her competition with Josie for Alan M., but the spells she casts usually backfire in some way. Moreover, her spells would ward off whenever someone nearby snapped their fingers (which happened often). Alexandra and Sebastian's witchcraft powers were not used in Hanna-Barbera's TV show, and were soon discontinued in the comic as well.
- In Josie and the Pussycats #45 (December 1969), the first issue to bear that new title, Josie and Melody decide to start a band called the Pussycats, and ask Alexandra to be their bassist. Alexandra accepts, but only if the girls change the name of the group to "Alexandra's Cool Time Cats". Expecting Josie and Melody to yield to her demands, Alexandra is flustered when she finds that her brother Alex has appointed himself manager of the Pussycats and found a replacement bassist in Valerie Smith, a new girl in school. The Pussycats make their leopard print band uniforms (complete with cat-ear headbands and long tails) and perform at their first gig, a school dance, as a seething Alexandra tries unsuccessfully to use her witchcraft to get back at the Pussycats and Alex.
The reimagining of the comic resulted in three casualties: Albert, Sock, and Pepper, who were phased out altogether. From 1970 on, most of the stories in the comic book revolved around the Pussycats traveling around the country and the world to perform gigs, with Alan M., Alex, and Alexandra (and sometimes Sebastian) in tow. When the girls weren't off performing, they would be at home dealing with the various trials and tribulations of teenage life, often including Alex's jealousy of Alan M., and Alexandra's jealousy of Josie. The Josie and the Pussycats comic ran until 1982, after which the girls would often be featured in various Archie Giant Series issues and miniseries and one-shot comics of their own. Reprinted Josie stories (including the occasional pre-Pussycats story) appear frequently in the various Archie digest reprint magazines.
Archie & Friends #47-95 (June 2001-November 2005) continued to include new Josie and the Pussycats stories in the regular house style after the 2001 movie recreated interest of the series. Following this, they were transformed into an experimental manga style for nine issues. Josie and the Pussycats appeared in a new two-part story, "Battle of the Bands", in Archie & Friends #130-131 (June–July 2009).
In March 2005, Archie Comics announced that a manga version of the title would be published, with art by Tania del Rio, who was also responsible for the manga makeover of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. The first such "Josie and the Pussycasts" story, "Opening Act" ran in Tales from Riverdale Digest #3 (August 2005) The band had previously appeared in manga form in issue Sabrina, The Teenage Witch #67 (August 2005).
In Archie & Friends #96 (January 2006) the origin of the Pussycats was retconned. The manga version implies that none of the characters previously knew each other. Josie Jones was cut from the school choir, but met Valerie Smith and the two founded the band. They recruited Melody, whose idea it was to wear cat outfits. The band was not doing well at first, but Alex liked the group, though Alexandra could tell he was more interested in Josie. Alex’s father let him be the manager as long as he did not use his wealth to help make them stars. In Sabrina the Teenage Witch #72 (February 2006), a stranger named Alan helped carry their equipment. Josie, already attracted to Alan, jealously thought there was an attraction between Alan and Melody. Alex hired him as their stagehand.
The manga focused on the group's attempt to reach fame rather than on their career after they have already achieved it. It featured characters not seen in other comics, including Alan's younger sister Alison and the rival group the Vixens. The manga version was not popular among readers, who preferred the traditional style. Its final appearance was in Archie & Friends #104 (December 2006). A Katy Keene revival replaced it (both featured alongside each other in the latter part of the manga's run), though it, too, did not last.
- Josie and the Pussycats (the Hanna-Barbera cartoon show)
- Josie and the Pussycats (the music group put together in conjunction with the show)
- ↑ Dan DeCarlo at the Lambiek Comiclopedia
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Carter, B. J. "Interview: Dan DeCarlo: Archie, Josie and Dan", The Trades, January 1, 2002. WebCite archive.
- ↑ Nash, Eric. "Dan DeCarlo, Archie Artist and Creator Of Josie and the Pussycats, Is Dead at 82", The New York Times, December 23, 2001
- ↑ She's Josie at the Grand Comics Database
- ↑ Josie at the Grand Comics Database
- ↑ Josie and the Pussycats at the Grand Comics Database
- ↑ Brady, Matt. "Josie and the Pussycats Go Manga", Newsarama.com,March 3, 2005
- Archie Comics' Josie and the Pussycats homepage
- JOZINE The unofficial Josie & The Pussycats/Dan DeCarlo fansite