Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Now That's Heavy, Man: "The Tangled Web" by Malmgren and Bolling

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! If you know much about comics of the early 1970s, you know that comicbooks got pretty heavy into dealing with "issues of the day". We called the trend "relevance". Some of the most famous were the Spider-Man "drug issues", Captain America dealing with corrupt government, and, of course, the legendary (and that overused adjective honestly fits here) Green Lantern/Green Arrow series. We also had lots of mags with the JLA dealing with pollution, the Teen Titans battling the Generation Gap, Wonder Woman doing her thing for Women's Lib, and of course The Batman taking down dope dealers and muggers.

One publisher, though, did more than their fair share to bring relevance to their readers. They, too, dealt with things like pollution, the Generation Gap, Women's Lib, and yes, even muggers. That company, believe it or don't, was Archie Comics. All the mags in the Archie line touched on real issues of the day at one time or another, but a few, especially Betty and Me and Life with Archie, found ways to deal with the human condition (yes, even religion) in a gentle, semi-humorous, sincere way.

Dick Malmgren and Bob Bolling's "The Tangled Web" (Life With Archie #112) is a story that has stuck with me ever since I brought that mag home from the local King Kwik back in May, 1971. In one ten page story that angered, saddened, and, yes, educated Young Groove, I learned lessons about honesty, responsiblity, friendship, and citizenship that have remained part of me to this day.

Now THAT'S heavy, man!


  1. Wow - I went through an Archie phase and read considerable amount of these, but I never remember reading any stories like these, with Archie being such a complete jerk and then getting arrested (!).
    Also, your observation that Archie comics sometimes dealt with religion reminded me of that time I unintentionally picked up one of those Spire Archie comics - now those were a completely different beast (and quite frankly, a bit creepy).

  2. Nothing like a good,old tale from Riverdale...even a story with a serious theme. Thanks!

  3. Thanks, Groove. "The Tangled Web" brings back memories. I had this issue, and was angry that my favorite Archie artist, Dan Decarlo, did not draw the story, though he did illustrate the cover.

    Archie Comics did numerous serious stories, and they were good, but I was glad when they returned to 100% frivolous tales.

  4. i like Archi! is very cool :p XDXDXDXDXD

  5. Wow, that was a pretty heavy story. Especially for what I call a "kid's comic". I could never figure Archie out. Although in real life, I'm a brunette man, but if I was Archie, I totally would have taken Betty over Veronica.

  6. I read a fair number of Archie comics in the 70's, but I don't remember any with this kind of serious story.



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