Chapter Seven
ABOVE;
Dan DeCarlo's version of Vampirella
LEFT: just a couple of character designs from the Pets
project.
BELOW: the cover of the 1993 book, 'Dan
DeCarlo.
Chapter Eight
Life Of Josie home
ABOVE: The CD bootleg cover from the late 90's
‘Josie’ may have been in a lull, but DeCarlo wasn’t. In 1982, he was asked to create “another girl that who was more
villainous than Veronica - snobby, richer, more troublesome.” Thus, Dan’s second redhead creation,
Cheryl
Blossom
! Cheryl was one babe that every guy in Riverdale (including Archie himself) wanted and she knew it. She
also knew Archie had a tug-of-war relationship with Betty and Veronica and she played this love triangle to her
advantage. About a decade later, this set-up lead to a rarity in Archie Comics ranks....an ACTUAL 3-part mini-series,
called ‘Love Showdown’. After the series made its mark (sorry, the triangle remained intact), Cheryl got her own
regular series.

During this time, Dan’s sons had graduated from collage and they all decided to follow in their old man’s footsteps by
take up the family ink pen. After Dan trained his boys by helping him with his output, they became successful comic
artists in their own right. When Bob Montana died in 1975, Dan was the obvious choice to take up the daily Archie
strip as his style had replaced Montana’s years ago.

Even though Dan was fulltime with Archie (work for hire fulltime, actually), old habits died hard as he continued to do
freelance work for other companies. He penciled Marvel’s Star comic The Smurfs and had a reunion of sorts when
he drew some of his old characters from his Timely days like Irma for a back up story for Marvel Valentine Special
#1. However, Archie took offense to a couple of these assignments. One small incident between Dan and Archie was
a innocent pin-up Dan did for Harris Comics for one of their Vampirella Pin-Up issues.
The ‘vamp’ incident was a mere drizzle compared to the
thunderstorm of trouble that developed when Dan was
approached by Penthouse Magazine for their adult
anthology comic. Penthouse editors offered an idea of a
strip about a trio of female musicians, much like the
Pussycats, called ‘Pets’. Dan liked this proposal but he
began to have serious doubts when he received the script,
“it was too wild”, as he later described it, and told
Penthouse he couldn’t do it. The editors offered to a
rewrite and Dan agreed to do the model sheets.
Unfortunately, the re-writes didn’t change matters much
and Dan turned them down again. By this time, however,
Penthouse had already advertised the strip with DeCarlo’s
name on it! Penthouse made a deal that Dan would be
listed only as an “consultant” and hired another artist - a
former Archie artist, John Workman. When the magazine
was printed, DeCarlo’s name was on the cover and
featured prominently over the strip.

When this issue hit the stands, the (
you-know-what) hit
Archies’ fan and gave Dan a hard time over it. According to
rumors, Archie demanded that Dan get their approval
before accepting any freelance job in the future. This issue
is rare, out-of-print and considered a highly collectible item.
In the middle of that skirmish, Dan was a subject of a small-press
book called,
‘Dan DeCarlo’ written by the co-editor of the Archie
Fan Magazine, Mary Smith. It was a bare-bone printed production
and the art work was Xeroxed, not scanned, but it did offer 123
pages of early and rare art and photos from the DeCarlo
archives and it did offer some rare history behind Archie and
DeCarlo that may were curious about (
like yours truly during the
production of Jozine #1
). The book also offered a introduction by
Stan Lee.

What ‘Josie’ needed now was a ‘spark’ to save her from her rut
and it came in as a combination of nostalgia and cable TV. In
1991, Ted Turner’s pioneering and maverick cable empire (which
included CNN, TNT, TCM and more) continued to expand its
reach when he created The Cartoon Network, a 24 hour
animation/cartoon channel. Using the early Warner Bros./MGM
cartoon library that Turner already owned and his close
association with Hanna-Barbara, he had more than enough to fill
the schedule. Soon afterwards, Turner bought H-B outright and
began to dig deep into their vaults.  One of the finds was the
‘Josie’ shows.
The rebroadcast of ‘Josie’ started off with a marathon and a regular prime late afternoon slot. Thanks to continuous
airings and consistent time slots (usually shown along side other H-B shows of the same era), ‘Josie’ was
reintroduced and finally recognized in the limelight of animation and cultural consciousness.

In 1995, ‘Wild Kartoon Kingdom’ (an imprint of ‘Film Threat’) welcomed her back by posing such burning questions
as, “Why (does) Josie...always sing a song while running away from their enemies?”, “Are Josie and the Pussycats
all maternal twins with different haircuts?”, and, possibly, the biggest question of all, “Is it wrong to fantasize about
cartoon characters?”  For what it’s worth, this seemed like a positive review, even the editors rated the show a 9 in
watchability and a 10 on ‘sex quotient’. ‘Q’, the British music magazine, named ‘Josie’ as one of the top sexiest in
animation, describing the Pussycats as “eponymous, be-leopardskinned, Russ Meyer-esque...”

In his July 14, 2000 article on bubble-gum music (“Why ‘Greatest Bubble-Gum Hits’ Is Not An Oxymoron”), LA Times
famous (and notorious) music critic Robert Hilburn picked “Every Beat Of My Heart” as one of the best in this genre
saying, “This single is an inviting Phil Spector’s legendary ‘girl group’ sound and the Southern, horn-accented heat
of Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ period. The big question here is why this record wasn’t a hit?... Maybe it’s too
good for the bubblegum market.”

In the late 90’s, a fan got impatient for a digital reissue of the 1970 Josie LP and released all available ‘Josie’
recordings (with a few creative additions) on a collectors bootleg CD. You can sometimes find this at specialty
record stores and, of course, on E-Bay. The only ‘legal’ digital ‘Josie’ available was the ‘Heart’ track on ‘25 All-Time
Greatest Bubblegum Hits’ on the Varese Sarabande label and, if you’re really lucky, a old laser disc collection of the
complete ‘Josie’ TV series from Japan.
The rebroadcast of ‘Josie’ started off with a marathon and a
regular prime late afternoon slot. Thanks to continuous airings
and consistent time slots (usually shown along side other H-B
shows of the same era), ‘Josie’ was reintroduced and finally
recognized in the limelight of animation and cultural
consciousness.

In 1995, ‘Wild Kartoon Kingdom’ (an imprint of ‘Film Threat’)
welcomed her back by posing such burning questions as, “Why
(does) Josie...always sing a song while running away from their
enemies?”, “Are Josie and the Pussycats all maternal twins with
different haircuts?”, and, possibly, the biggest question of all,
“Is it wrong to fantasize about cartoon characters?”  For what it’
s worth, this seemed like a positive review, even the editors
rated the show a 9 in watchability and a 10 on ‘sex quotient’.
‘Q’, the British music magazine, named ‘Josie’ as one of the top
sexiest in animation, describing the Pussycats as “eponymous,
be-leopardskinned, Russ Meyer-esque...”
In his July 14, 2000 article on bubble-gum music (“Why ‘Greatest Bubble-Gum Hits’ Is Not An Oxymoron”), LA Times
famous (and notorious) music critic Robert Hilburn picked “Every Beat Of My Heart” as one of the best in this genre
saying, “This single is an inviting Phil Spector’s legendary ‘girl group’ sound and the Southern, horn-accented heat
of Elvis Presley’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ period. The big question here is why this record wasn’t a hit?... Maybe it’s too
good for the bubblegum market.”
    
In the late 90’s, a fan got impatient for a digital reissue of the 1970 Josie LP and released all available ‘Josie’
recordings (with a few creative additions) on a collectors bootleg CD. You can sometimes find this at specialty record
stores and, of course, on E-Bay. The only ‘legal’ digital ‘Josie’ available was the ‘Heart’ track on ‘25 All-Time
Greatest Bubblegum Hits’ on the Varese Sarabande label (7) and, if you’re really lucky, a old laser disc collection of
the complete ‘Josie’ TV series from Japan.

During this same time, MCA Records released ‘Saturday Morning’, a tribute CD filled with alternative bands covering
themes from the old animated shows. Among the highlights in this set were ‘Spiderman’ (The Ramones), ‘Scooby-
Doo’ (Matthew Sweet), ‘Johnny Quest’ (Rev. Horton Heat) and, of course, ‘Josie’ covered by Juliana Hatfield and
Tanya Donelly. The CD even offered a lyric section!

Archie brought her back in 1993 with a new issue number one, a DeCarlo cover and centerfold (Allison Flood inks).
For die-hard fans, this was a treat! However, the biggest surprise was that out of the 48 pages, only 8 contained new
material. The rest of the issue was reprints of ‘Decisions, Decisions’, ‘What Kind Of Fool Am I?’ and ‘Up, Up & Away’.

Number 2 (early 1994) followed the same pattern. The new story was called ‘Love & War’ and it had the girls go up
against a bunch of Bon-Jovi types who called themselves ‘The Snake Brothers’. The reprints this time were ‘Work Of
Art’, ‘To Grandmother’s House’, ‘Brawn Is Beautiful’, ‘If The Spirit Moves You’ and ‘Maxim Mix-Up’. This issue also
contained a long-lost feature - a letters column. Unfortunately, the sales weren’t up to the publishers expectations,
and thus ‘Josie’ was unplugged.... again.

In the April 1994 issue of Tower Records’ ‘Pulse!’ magazine, Josie and the ‘Cats were featured in the ‘Flipside’
section, entitled ‘Josie & The Pussycats: The Original Riot Grrrls’. Valerie tells Josie about a ‘Riot Grrl’ article in
Pulse! (of course), and that there more ‘Grrl’ groups than ever before. These groups not only play their own
instruments but manage their own bookings, crew work, finances and merchandising. “...and get this,” Val adds,
“some bands have even signed deals to appear in comic books? Now where did they get that idea?”

Two issues later, a letter was printed protesting the Josie/Grrrl comparison. It concluded that the Pulse! comic was
“denigrating to the powerful young women who make up this movement...(Riot Grrl) bands address topics that ‘Josie’
would never touch.” This letter from Seattle ended by demanding a apology for printing “this ...piece of misleading
trash.” Not many were buying the nostalgia, especially with cultural misunderstanding involved.

This was one of many small bumps on the road to rediscovery for Josie. Although there some merchandising (a
refrigerator magnet and few T-shirts), these were limited and wasn’t much push behind them.  Even some hardcore
collectors didn’t catch many of them. Archie, for reasons only known to itself, didn’t really know what to do with her
(there was an unconfirmed rumor that they were planning to sell her off). Alas, nostalgia was not finished with her
yet, as there was one ace in the hole....