Pep Comics #22 in 1941 featured The Shield, but is best known as the first ever appearance of Archie
Pep Comics started off in 1939 as an anthology comic magazine, primarily revolving around action-adventure stories. Its main feature was The Shield, a patriotic hero notable for sporting a flag-themed suit, more than a year before Captain America debuted. In 1941, even though World War II was at its height, publisher John L. Goldwater decided to introduce some humor in the magazine and, inspired by the Andy Hardie movies, he commissioned the Archie character, who would be drawn by artist Bob Montana. Montana was the main creative force behind the title, and he designed Archie and the supporting cast taking his high-school acquaintances as inspiration to launch in Pep Comics #22. The character was a great success, and would soon start to gain more space in Pep Comics, along with other humor strips. Eventually, he’d replace The Shield as the cover character, and would remain so till the magazine cancellation in 1987. Also, in 1942, shortly after his debut, Archie would get his own magazine, simply titled Archie.
These family-oriented, lighthearted stories were such a hit that Pep’s publishing company, MLJ Magazines, changed its name to Archie Comics, and has since launched dozens of titles of variable lifespan, starring Archie himself or some of the supporting characters, such as Betty, Veronica and Jughead. They’ve also published numerous non-Archie magazines, occasionally revisiting the action-superhero theme. The enduring popularity of Archie has turned him into an icon of american pop-culture, and thus his first appearance holds special significance. Nevertheless, comics were rarely collected those years, and few have survived to present day. A copy of Pep Comics #22 in prime condition will easily reach a price of $50000.
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