Thursday, December 16, 2021

#IReadsYou Review: SHE'S JOSIE


STORY: Frank Doyle
PENCILS: Dan DeCarlo
INKS: Rudy Lapick
LETTERS: Vincent DeCarlo; Bill Yoshida; Victor Gorelick
EDITOR: Jamie Lee Rotante
COVER: Audrey Mok
ISBN: 978-1-64576-993-4; paperback; 5.25 x 7.96 (May 18, 2021)
224pp, Color, $10.99 U.S., $13.99 CAN

Josie and the Pussycats began as a 1963 teen-humor comic book entitled She's Josie (She's Josie #1, cover date: February 1963).  Published by Archie Comics, it was created by Dan DeCarlo and focused on the fanciful life and times of a teenager, the sweet and level-headed redhead, Josie Jones, later Josie James and Josie McCoy.  The title was renamed Josie with issue #17 (cover dated: December 1965).

The series became Josie and the Pussycats with issue #45 (cover date: December 1969), in which Josie and her friend, Melody, formed a band called the Pussycats.  The two friends added bassist Valerie Smith, the new girl in school and one of the first major African-American comic book characters.  The trio donned leopard print band uniforms that came with long tails and cat-ear headbands.  Hanna-Barbera adapted this new-look Josie into the Saturday morning animated television series, “Josie and the Pussycats," which ran for two seasons.  Josie's comic book series ended with Josie and the Pussycats #106 (cover date: October 1982)

Earlier this year, Archie Comic Publications, Inc. (a.k.a. “Archie Comics”) published a trade paperback, entitled She's Josie.  The book returns to the time before Josie became Josie and the Pussycats.  She's Josie reprints the story contents of the original She's Josie series, issues #1 to #9, which were published in 1963 and 1964.  This paperback is apparently the first chronological collection the early She's Josie issues.

She's Josie reveals a world-famous rock star when she was an average high school teen.  With her best friends, the witty Pepper and the ditzy Melody, Josie gets caught up in all sorts of misadventures.  Joining this trio is Josie's boyfriend, Albert; Pepper's boy friend, Sock, and the rich and rotten Cabot twins, Alex and Alexandra, plus others in this chronological collection of She's Josie

THE LOWDOWN:  I am a huge fan of Josie and the Pussycats and have been since I was five or six-years-old.  It was the Hanna-Barbera animated television series, “Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space” (1972-73), that helped to launch my love of science fiction and eventually of comic books.  [I saw the original series, “Josie and the Pussycats” (1971-72), a few years after I saw the outer space revamp.]

Over the last 20 years or so, I have been collected early Josie and also Josie and the Pussycats comic books, but She's Josie provides me with my first opportunity to read the very early comic book stories featuring the characters.  Reading these comic books was a little odd because the Josie characters with which I am familiar, Josie's boyfriend, Alan M, and band mate, Valerie, are not present in these early stories.  However, future Pussycat, Melody, is present – ditzy as ever.  Alexander and Alexandra Cabot are present, although Alex plays a much bigger role in these first nine issues than his sister does.

Each issue features a story divided into four chapters, and with the exception of She's Josie #4, those four chapters combine for one story.  Some of the stories are quite dated, but their plots and subject matter deal with obstacles and dilemmas that teenagers still face and likely will for some time.  She's Josie #2 focuses on a visiting instructor's bid to bring Josie's male and female high school classmates together in order to participate in a theatrical production he is mounting.  The behind-the-scenes melodrama of this high school musical theater will illicit some chuckles or perhaps, remind some readers of episodes of the late Fox TV series, “Glee” (2009-15)

My favorite issue is She's Josie #6 with its “Tower of Trouble” story about a reputedly haunted house and the crooks hiding inside it.  This could be the plot of an episode of a Scooby-Doo cartoon, and Scooby-Doo taught me to love haunted house-set comedy.  I find “Tower of Trouble” to be good from start to finish.  I also like She's Josie #3, which has to do with a jewelry heist and stolen sweaters.

Many issues are inconsistent – some good chapters, others are either misfires or dull.  Some of the stories are instantly forgettable, and sometimes, the stories make the characters seem like nothing more than second rate clones of Archie Andrews and his friends.  In the moment of reading them, however, there a few stories that are just delightful.  Overall, Josie and the Pussycat fans, like myself, will be pleased.  Honestly, She's Josie is an indispensable volume if you are a fan of all things Josie.  I highly recommend it … and I hope there is a second volume...

I READS YOU RECOMMENDS:  Fans of Josie and the Pussycats will want to have this low-priced collection, She's Josie.

7 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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