the original trio: Josie, Pepper & Melody!
Josie and Alexandra in their
One of the many assignments that passed through Dan door was a script from Archies, then known as MLJ Comics.
It was for the just launched ‘Archie’s Gals Betty & Veronica’ title…but he wasn’t interested. Dan usually avoided until
the last possible minute to do their scripts as they paid one of the cheapest rates in the industry. While publishers
offered around $50 per page and better scripts, Archie only offered $20. However, Lipick persuaded DeCarlo to
give their script a shot. Thus, DeCarlo’s Archie Comics debuted in ‘Betty & Veronica’ #4.
When Timely collapsed, DeCarlo and Lee ventured into the world of syndicated comic strips with ‘Willie Lumpkin’
and ‘Life With Lizzie’. One day, while trying to develop a strip of his own, Dan noticed his wife’s brand-new bouffant
hair-do with a little black ribbon on top. He then made a slightly exaggerated sketch based on her hair and, from
that, he started to develop a teenage comic strip named ‘Josie’ after his inspiration. United Features liked what they
saw and offered to pick it up. Dan realized that he couldn’t do two strips and his massive freelance book schedule at
the same time, so he shelved ‘Josie’.
Gradually, Dan did more work for Archie than for his other clients. He soon went full-time with them after ‘Lumpkin’
folded and some of the other comic book publishers were going out of business. Dan showed the Josie strips to
Richard Goldwater, the son of Archie publisher, John Goldwater, and tried to sell the strips off for a full book
title. Instead, Richard pasted a ‘Dick & Dan’ credit on top and showed them to King Features Syndicate. After King
turned it down, Richard took it back to Archie and turned into a comic, though the first issue didn’t launch until two
Finally, ‘She’s Josie’ #1 appeared in February 1963. The first
issue started off with Josie and her friend, Melody, getting ready
for a walk. Josie complains that men are getting “flabby” due to the
lack of exercise because they only exercise when they chase after
Melody. The two go their separate ways, and Josie bumps into
Albert. Actually, Albert almost falls on her while falling from a tree
(?). After their little exchange, Alex shows up in his sports car and
offers Josie a personal tour of his private gym. Josie accepts, and
they leave poor Albert, literally, in the dust.
Along the way, Josie spots Pepper, tells Alex to pull over and offers
her a ride...as protection against Alex; “I know your exercise,” warns
Josie, “No wrestling today!” When they arrive at the gym, the girls
challenge Alex to a game of ‘Follow the Leader’. Even though he’s
out of breath by the time they get to the rings, Alex ends up wining
by ordering his butler to take his place. Disappointed, the girls leave.
From here, we are shown three vignettes with exercise as a plot
thread. The first round, ‘Neat Workers’, finds the girls with nothing
better to do, so they offer to clean Josie’s father’s garage as part of
their new exercise plan. After discovering the garage is filled to the
rafters, Pepper goes out to find Sock and Albert. She offers all-
muscles-no-brain Sock an “opportunity to tone” his physique, to
which he replies, “Who do you want me to fracture, Pepper?”
However, when the girls get back, they discover the guys took
everything out, cleaned it and put it back in its’ original disorderly
The second round has the whole gang at the local pizza
joint. In keeping with the competitive spirit so far, Albert
challenges Alex to dance contest. Things get out of
hand when this almost-friendly game turns into a arm
wrestling match. One broken table later, the gang is
kicked out. The third and final round, again, finds the
girls by themselves, this time at the local school running
track and ends with Melody being chased around the
track by the now-active football and track teams. A
typical Melody ending closing out the first issue.
As with any long-running series, the origins are vastly
different from today. Josie’s haircut is a little larger and
more flamboyant with bigger curls going out instead of
in. Pepper is the active cynic of the cast; the horn-rim
glasses and a smirk are the notable giveaways and
Melody is.....well, Melody; blonde, naive, oblivious,
sincere and, to top it all off, gorgeous. She will prove to
be the most stable character out of the entire cast,
In a career-spanning interview in The Comics Journal
with Mike Curtis (#229/Dec. 2000), DeCarlo describes
Josie and the girls: “Josie was a contemporary
character, much more so than Archie. An intelligent kid,
she had goals, and wanted to succeed in life. She had a
mother and father, but was very mature. (Pepper) was a
very bright girl. She was the original “Save The World”
environmentalist and protester. (Melody) was the
knockout, the one the boys fought over and fell over
each other trying to get to. And she never had a clue
that she was causing it.”
Next up in the cast was Alexandra Cabot, Alex’s snobby yet cool and
smooth sister. She would be the pain-in-the-neck for Alex (sibling rivalry)
and for Josie (over Albert). However, as the issues progressed, she
became more aggressive, more involved and, therefore, short-tempered,
blowing her cool like an atomic bomb.
Soon enough, the relationships and storylines were set. These would be
the main trio of Josie, Pepper and Melody; Josie’s frustrations with Albert
and (later) his folk music; Albert and Alex fighting over Josie and their
competing manhood; everybody chasing Melody; Pepper trying to set
everybody and everything straight AND Alexandra pushing Josie out of
the picture for Albert and her growing ego. Sound familiar?
As in his days at Timely, DeCarlo would keep himself busy with other in-
house assignments. Among them would be almost all of Archie Comics
covers, and countless ‘Betty & Veronica’ stories. Dan, along with George
Gladir, created ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’ for ‘Archie’s Madhouse’
#22 (Oct. ‘62). She would later have her own title and Filmation-
animated series in 1972 and, of course, a live action series for ABC-TV
With all of this in place, the writers and editors didn’t have to worry much about running out of material. Issue #3 has
the gang off on a beach trip and ending up with stolen jewels while chaos ensues (Sound familiar? Again?). #6 has
the trio in a haunted house (ditto?), in #7, Josie gives Albert a guitar and she finds out how much he LOVES folk
music. In #14, Melody gets kidnapped by a band of gypsies. The cover of this same issue has the cast dancing
around Gypsy Melody with Josie scolding, “I can clue you on your future fortune if you don’t cool off this horseplay!”
A rare authoritative moment from a laidback Josie!!
One of the funnier issues is #20. In the lead story ‘Rebellion’, Josie throws Albert out for paying more attention to his
guitar than her. Still upset, Josie decides to plan a protest against men and the rest of the trio join in as they paint
signs like ‘Men Are Not Worthy’, ‘Let’s Get The Girls Out Of The Kitchen’ and ‘Freedom For Women!’. As they start
their demonstration in the center of the town, they run into a group of disappointing older women. That is until the
ladies read the girl’s signs and, fiercely agreeing with them, grab them from the girls and take over the rally.
The ladies get so caught up in the message that they get physical with some of the male bystanders. This
increasingly motley scene scares the trio off just as the cops arrive. The girls get to Josie’s house only to be visited
by a bruised and beaten Alex and Albert announcing that the town was taken over by “wild women” (whom, by this
time, included Josie’ mother). This is probably the first Archie title ever to have a social riot within its’ pages.
‘Video Virus’ is the second story and is pretty well self-explanatory. The only TV set in Melody’s house is broken. We
and the cast discover Melody’s TV addiction. After laying a trail of devastation in her wake as she searches for TV,
Melody gets herself into an accident. She ends up in a hospital bed ... happily in her own private room, complete with
a TV set and a ‘No Visitors’ sign on the door.
Number 22 had a couple of interesting cover appearances. The first was the cover gag showing a line of
superheroes at an employment agency. Some of them were created by comic legend Jack Kirby for Archie Comics
for their own superhero line. The second was the first appearance of the names ‘Dick ‘N Dan’ placed just under the
‘Josie’ banner, standing for Goldwater and DeCarlo. In those days, it was incredibly rare for Archie to give any of
their artists and writers ANY credit!