1966 was a great year! So much pop culture! The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" and the Beatles' "Revolver" albums debuted, as did TV shows like STAR TREK and BATMAN. In the midst of all this, some teenagers were selling strongly on the comic book rack. I'm talking about Archie's gang; specifically BETTY AND VERONICA SPECTACULAR #138, June 1966 (which is copyright Archie Publications).
This was a more innocent time and a story like "Pay Dates Incorporated" (see below) simply did not resonate the way that it does today. Oddly enough, it all starts with a typical teen problem in these Archie books: how do I get some money to buy some cool stuff?
I was fortunate enough to hear the story of Archie from Joe Edwards himself. Joe was there, in the MLJ offices, with Bob Montana and John Goldwater, as they were hashing out ideas. Publisher Goldwater (whose first name was the "J" part of the "MLJ" publishing acronym) wanted a new comic book story, maybe something like the Andy Hardy series of movies. But what would it be? What do teenagers want? How do you appeal to them?
He turned to the then-twenty year old Joseph Edwards.
"Joe, you're a young guy. What do you want?" asked Goldwater.
"Three things," said Joe, counting on his fingers. "Girls, of course -- money, so I can take girls out -- and a job, so I can make the money to take out the girls."
Bob Montana created the initial look of Archie Andrews, Jughead and Betty Cooper for Pep Comics #22, December 1941. By the next year, Archie had his own title.
Okay, so let's go 25 years in the future -- back to BETTY AND VERONICA SPECTACULAR #138.
How do the girls make money?
The answer is peddling flesh. Yes. Really. In an Archie book. But, hey, it was approved by the Comics Code Authority, so it's alright.