The first and last appearance of Alan & The Jesters!
Meanwhile, things in Archie’s side of town were jumping. Pop music behind-the-scene legend Don Kirshner was
looking for another TV/music media band as he had just been fired by his last creation, The Monkees. What Don
found in The Archies was strong youth appeal, built-in recognition and, most important to him, fictional...which
meant these members couldn’t talk back.
Plans were made between Kirshner, Archie’s and the animation studio Filmation for a major crossover deal that
would combine comics, TV and records. This package would find Archie and his gang forming a garage rock band of
their own. Kirshner recruited Ron Dante and Andy Kim for the musical chores of writing, producing and performing
with the band (2), first under Calendar Records, then under Kirshner Records.
After a non-appearance on ABC-TV’s ‘The Music Scene’, the second single, ‘Sugar, Sugar’, turned out to be a
smash, hitting number one in the Billboard Top 40 survey. It was the 4th largest single of 1969 (just a notch above
‘Honky Talk Woman’ by The Rolling Stones) and end up being a oldies/bubble-gum classic.
With the success of ‘The Archies’, the publishers were looking for properties to continue the streak and picked Josie.
They asked DeCarlo to develop a package to present Josie to interested parties. “Mr.” Goldwater later added a
muscle-bound character named ‘Alan M.’ as a big favor to a friend of his he wanted to repay. No explanation was
given for what the “M” stood for (3). Dan added, among other things, a new character named Valerie Smith, Archie’s
first female black character, and developed the “Pussycats” concept and its costume based on a Halloween outfit HIS
Josie wore to a Halloween party many years ago.
While ‘The Archies’ may have had Filmation, Josie ended up getting the full treatment from the leader of television
animation, Hanna-Barbara! The H-B studios were on a powerhouse roll with classic hits like ‘Johnny Quest’, ‘Magilla
Gorilla’, ‘The Banana Splits’ and ‘Scooby Doo, Where Are You?’ This time, the changes were meant for good.
Number 42 (August ‘69) saw the official disappearance of Clyde and Pepper and the appearance of Alan M.; a clean-
cut, blonde, muscle-bound...folk singer. (It would seem that Albert went off on a fitness sabbatical with Arnold
Schwartzeneggar.) He even had his own three-piece combo called ‘Alan & The Jesters’. However, the slaughter
would continue since the combo would be gone in the next issue.
Number 42 (August ‘69) saw the official disappearance of
Clyde and Pepper and the appearance of Alan M.; a
clean-cut, blonde, muscle-bound...folk singer. (It would
seem that Albert went off on a fitness sabbatical with
Arnold Schwartzeneggar.) He even had his own three-
piece combo called ‘Alan & The Jesters’. However, the
slaughter would continue since the combo would be gone
in the next issue.
Number 43 (Sept. ‘69) finds the Cabot siblings reading
from an old family ancestry album. According to the
album, they have an uncle named ‘Sebastian’ who was
prosecuted for “consorting with witches” three hundred
years ago. Alexandra scoffs at this while holding her new
cat, ‘Sebastian’. Despite her reaction, Alex is determined
to get to the bottom of this recent discovery.
In another room, they find a portrait of the old man
himself, with a few surprises. First there’s a white streak
running down the middle of his hair, very similar to the
one on Alexandra and the cat. Second, sharing the
painting with the great uncle and sitting on a crystal ball,
is a cat who has a striking resemblance to the one in
Alexandra’s arms. The inscription on the ball says, “...
stroke of light through darkness black, stroke my fur.... I
arch my back, warlock, witch or bottle genie, call me up
Alex puts the pieces together and proclaims that his dear sister is a witch. Despite this bold claim, Alexandra just
laughs and walks off, cat in arms. Soon after, she playfully scratches Sebastian and casts a joke ‘Eenie Meanie’ spell,
and a pie is flung from out of nowhere and hits Alex in the face. Alex then claims that the cat is the reincarnation of
Uncle Sebastian. Now, both are convinced
For the rest of the issue and the series, both would test Alexandra’s and Sebastian’s combined powers for their own
benefit to: 1) cast a spell on Josie to fall in love with Alex, 2) ditto on Alan M. with Alexandra and 3) if Alex should
make her upset, Alexandra can zap him. The only weakness to Alexandra’s magic (outside of her destructive ego) is
the sound of snapping fingers, mainly produced by rhythm-happy Melody. This super-natural ingredient added more
to the mayhem. It’s a wonder that nobody got killed.
The changes continued in #45 (Dec. ‘69) with the introduction of the band and a new member. In the first story,
‘Decisions, Decisions’. Alexandra tries to cut into Josie’s and Melody’s plans to start a band. Expecting them to say
yes, Alexandra says she’ll only join if she is made the leader and the band named after her. Of course, Josie and
Melody don’t buy this at all and turn her down, even though they seriously do need a third member to make this plan
work. Alex over hears this exchange and seizes the opportunity to “get in good” with Josie by searching for that third
He comes back to introduce the girls to Valerie Smith, and with
the rocking lyrics, “We are the Pussycats, With A Brand New
Sound, It Will Make You Ears Perk, And Your Head Spin
Around!”, she joined for good.
As mentioned before, Alexandra’s powers weren’t as
dangerous as her temper and jealousy. Now that Valerie took
over “her” spot, she began to take it out on her “dear brother”.
Now the siblings had to contend with: 1. Alexandra trying to
take over the band and 2. Alex trying to manage the band with
almost everyone caught in the middle.
With Melody obviously on her own wavelength and with Josie
up front, Valerie was left with the role of the-only-sane-fool-in-
the-asylum, a role vacated by Pepper. This set-up was in place
for the duration of the comic book and the TV series. With all
the ingredients for constant and potential disaster, this tour
would pre-date Spinal Tap by almost 15 years. What wasn’t
really pointed out at the time was that Valerie would end up
being not only the first African American character in Archie
Comics, but the first in animated television, too.
Number 50 (Sept. 1970) officially got the whole deal off the
ground with the cast paying a visit to the old Hanna-Barbara
Studios with Mr. Hanna and Barbara as their hosts. The cast
was shown around to demonstrate how animation works and
how the show is made, much to the annoyance of Alexandra
The Great Perfectionist.
From here, the comic and the series went their separate ways.
While the comic stayed in its basic ‘Archie’ mind set with a little
adventure mixed in, the series took the successful ‘Scooby
Doo’ path, with some globe-trotting and espionage on the side.
This separate world theory should keep some of you elseworld
freaks happy, so I’ll leave it right here.
|ABOVE: a rare photo of John Goldwater and Don Kirshner