1/13/14

Archie vs Wilbur

Recently I've been reading through some Golden Age MLJ comics, specifically Pep and Wilbur, and was struck by how some of the Wilbur plots were lifted directly from Archie stories. Wanting to check my memory, I tracked down some of the duplicates.

Some of the stories use a similar plot, but don't follow exactly. For example, in "Pop's Rest Cure" in Wilbur #21, Wilbur causes a lot of trouble when he drives his sick father to Uncle Ben's farm for some rest. Parts of this story come directly from Pep #38, "On the Farm." Archie causes trouble while trying to help out at his sick uncle's farm. Compare a two page sequence from each of the stories.

 



The Pep story is written and drawn by Bob Montana, whom some have said is the rightful creator of Archie. The pencils for the Wilbur story are attributed to Bill Vigoda (at the Grand Comics Database), but the writer is unknown.
 "Bob Montana created Archie; he wrote, he drew, he designed it...But John Goldwater, for merely saying, 'I would like an imitation of Henry Aldridge,' claims creation." - - Comics Between the Panels
Normally, I would assume that the same writer came up with both stories, and they were just pushed for time. Except, the Wilbur story was published four years later. Bob Montana wrote the Archie stories, and then left to fight in World War II. Four years later, after the war, the Wilbur stories seem like an echo.

Here's another example. "Batching It" appears in Pep #40 (1943), with script and pencils are by Harry Sahle (aka "Jewell"). The plot is that Archie and Mr. Andrews run the house while Mrs. Andrews is on vacation. Five years later, in Wilbur #12, "It's a Man's World" with pencils by Bill Vigoda has a similar storyline: Wilbur's mother leaves to visit her sister and Wilbur and Mr. Wilkin have to keep house.
The first and last pages of the story are eerily similar.




It might be acknowledged that the plots have been simple enough to allow for some duplication, but the last example is the oddest. In both the Archie and Wilbur stories, the principals decide to use psychology to promote better behavior from Archie and Wilbur (deep down, aren't Archie and Wilbur just good kids? It's Reggie and Red who are the rats!). Anyway, I'm including the full stories here for comparison. 


"Aboard the NARCISSUS" is from Pep #49 (1944), with pencils by Harry Sahle and script by Ed Goggin. "Down in the Dumps" is from Wilbur #21. 
In Pep, Mr. Weatherbee gives Archie the task of hiring a boat for the school picnic. Archie accidentally charters a garbage scow, but everything turns out all right in the end. In Wilbur, Mr. Dripwaite gives Wilbur the task of hiring a boat for the faculty excursion. Wilbur accidentally rents a garbage scow and causes Mr. Dripwaite a lot of trouble.

PS: Sahle later worked with Mickey Spillane on a comic called "Mike Danger", which was the original version of Mike Hammer. 






















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