Monday, April 16, 2018

Meredith, NH: Bob Montana "Archie" Statue Dedication August 9, 2018

Photo by Morgan Karanasios.

Did you know that Bob Montana, the fellow who created Archie, lived in New Hampshire? 

Montana drew the first comic strip featuring Archie Andrews while renting a cottage on Lake Waukewan in 1942, and the strip would go nationwide in 1946. Two years later, he bought a 60-acre farm on Meredith Neck, and the town became the basis for many of the people and locations that would appear in the comic strip, even though Archie’s high school was based on Montana’s three years as a resident of Haverhill, Massachusetts.

In 1967, he bought the former Esso station on Main Street and converted it into a studio and gallery. He thought it would provide a quiet place to work, but his fame soon made it too popular a place for visitors and he retreated to the farm to work on the comic strip. 
The popularity of the character led to the renaming of the company that publishes the Archie comic books to Archie Comics, and the creation of a television series further enlarged the franchise.

GMP has commissioned from sculptor, Valery Mahuchy, a life-sized bronze “Archie” statue. The statue will honor Meredith resident and artist, the late Bob Montana, as part of Meredith's 250th anniversary celebration in 2018. Not only will the comic strip character find a permanent place in town; but also, it will serve as a tribute to Bob Montana's many contributions to Meredith. Among those contributions were protecting the waterfront from commercial development (Save the Bay), promoting Meredith as supportive of the arts, and preserving the village character of Main Street. In addition, Montana played an instrumental role in making Meredith's 200th anniversary celebration in 1968 a smashing success prior to his sudden and premature passing at 54. GMP welcomes the public to gather with the Montana family August 9th, 2018 in Community Park on Main Street. The statue will be commemorated there, across the street from Montana’s former gallery and frame shop.

Lions Club representative Marie Valiere presents a check to Greater Meredith Program Design Committee co-chairman Chris Williams and Archie statue subcommittee chairman Jim McFarlin in front of a model of the bench that will be built for a life-size Archie statue to recognize the town's connection to Bob Montana, creator of the Archie comic strip. (Courtesy Photo)


I have problems with that article.
If you click on the Laconia Daily Sun link, you can read an article that recounts the story of Archie's success in a way I have never heard before. The Sun's version is that Archie, was, a comic strip, created by Bob Montana. And it was very successful. So successful that Archie Comics changed their name. Well, so far as I know, Montana pitched the idea at the request of one of the big MLJ owners. The comic book came first, and then, later, a daily strip. And it was a team effort. Granted, Montana ran the comic book/comic strip in the beginning, but there were many talented people who left their mark. There is mention in the article of a TV show hit series, but I'm at a loss to recall anything other than the animated 1970s Saturday morning TV series from years ago (which was based more on Dan DeCarlo's later Archie look, than Montana's), and the new Archie TV show that kinda is a dark take on the whole thing. So dark as to be unrecognizable.
Here is the story of Archie as I have been told:

I was fortunate enough to hear the story of Archie from Joe Edwards himself. (Joe drew the "Li'l Jinx" series in the Archie comic books.) Joe was there, in the MLJ offices, with Bob Montana and John Goldwater, as they were hashing out ideas. This was around 1940. 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.



1 comment:

John Platt said...

Excellent. We used to visit Meredith all the time as a kid (my great-grandfather's farm is nearby). I remember reading the "Archie" comic strip in the Laconia paper.