Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Comic Book Ad: Count the upskirts

I'm not a fan of the Archie line of comics. While I find the Golden Age books interesting that is mainly for the historical value. Like many comic books of the time the early Archie books were blatantly full of subtext, double entendre and Good Girl art all while pretending to be a wholesome product for the kids as an alternative to the more obvious lurid fare on the market.

One example of how that faux-salubriousness of the Archie line was perpetuated through the years is revealed in this ad where Josie and her friends are at a wholesome, chaperoned and safe (physically and spiritually, no doubt) Co-Ed Skateboard Club.

In this Hostess advertisement from Archie's Madhouse #107 (1977) the catty Josie and her Unnamed Black Friend realize that the way to attract a man is not through being equal to their male counterparts, wearing pants or through hard work and skill but by manipulation and acting "like a girl". Melody, the "stupid blond" character who acts helpless and girly, manages to flash her underwear to the reader three times in seven panels, stealing all the meat puppets from the other ladies. Josie can't stand being the Mayor of Loserville so she resorts to trickery and manipulation to get attention.

Madhouse #107 - Josie
While this ad is post-Pussycats and Josie was a role model in her cartoon, what is clear is that pre-Pussycats, Josie was a zany man-hungry bitch, which was typical of how most women in comics were portrayed. Even those women in leading comic book roles were not used much differently and the second tier characters like Josie were originally little more than plot devices for wacky situations and foils to the main character. Portraying Josie and the gang in the style of her late 60s appearances in the ad may have been due to her television exposure waning by 1977. Having had the original cartoon and the follow up show, Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space, being canceled and only seen in syndication could explain why the ad did not take advantage of the recognition of using Josie and her Unnamed Black Friend in full Pussycat gear to push sugary treats.

Josie is a good example however, of how the popularized version from other media, the cartoon, changed how she was portrayed in most instances in her book appearances from then on. So as to match her cartoon version, Josie received a character upgrade for the better. No longer written as a zany force of nature modeled on the Lois Lane School of Writing Women in Comics template, she became far less wacky, a successful professional and a leader.



  1. Unnamed Black Friend? No, my good sir, that's Valerie Brown, fellow Pussycat: Bass, Tambourine, and Back-up Vocals.

    My, god. I actually knew that from memory.

  2. But the point was (I think), she's unnamed in the advertisement. Notice they call Melody and Josie by name, but NOT Valerie :)

    Take it and run.

  3. Oops, wanted to add;

    Hey's at least Melody is WEARING panties -- who knows if the new Supergirl is?

    So the good old days had SOMETHING going for them :)

    Take it and run.

  4. That Valerie was unnamed was the point, yes.

  5. Part of me thought that might be it, but some other part of me wanted to show off my old-school Josie trivia knowledge.

    The very sad, lonely part of me.

    Great Hostess advert, though. One of my favorites. Imagine how funny it would be if they colored Melody's panties differently each time.

  6. "Imagine how funny it would be if they colored Melody's panties differently each time."

    A la' Jessica Rabbit car crash scene?


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