Archie and his gang of friends have been making us laugh since they first appeared all the way back in Pep Comics #22 in 1941. They’ve made readers laugh with their unique brand of teen antics, slapstick humour and romantic mishaps ever since. Readers have seen Archie try to pick between Betty or Veronica and get into trouble every time because of it. Jughead and his unlimited stomach. And as always, Reggie being a jerk.
But with over 75 years of stories, it can be a bit daunting to figure out where to start. Luckily, Archie and all of the spin-off series are some of the most accessible out there with next to no prior knowledge needed to start reading. This guide answers any questions you might have and points you in the right direction to Archie comics that you’ll love.
While there are a lot of different places in which you can start reading Archie Comics there are three distinct flavours of the Riverdale gang I can recommend:
While it’s not officially called “Traditional Archie” I am calling it this to differentiate it from the others mentioned in this guide. But traditional is a good way of describing this flavour of Archie Comics. They’re comics usually drawn in the house style developed by cartoonist Dan deCarlo, suitable for all ages and generally plenty of fun. These are the original comics and by far when someone says Archie Comics these are the ones that come to mind, making them the most recognisable.
Comics Included In Traditional Archie
For almost 80 years of publication, there have been a lot of different series. Here are some of the more popular ones:
- Archie and Friends
- Betty and Veronica
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- Archie’s Funhouse
It’s worth noting that almost every Archie character has at one stage starred in their own comic or at least had multiple strips dedicated to them – even the school principal, Mr Weatherbee!
Each character’s book has it’s own style of humour and stories. Something like Jughead leans into the character quirks such as his laziness and food obsession heavily, while Sabrina is more about magical misadventures.
Pick a comic based on the kinds of stories that your interested in and you can’t go wrong.
What Are The Digests?
Since the introduction of New Riverdale (see below) the classic Archie has discontinued in the single-issue format. Instead, Traditional Archie is released in a digest format which are affordable comics, but with way more pages. These square-bound comics include a few new stories and reprint classic stories from different points in Archie Comics history. They’re lots of fun and perfect if you’re looking for something a more substantial than the regular floppy comic.
So, Where Should I Begin?
The great thing about Traditional Archie is that the stories are all self-contained and usually require no prior knowledge. You’ll get to know the characters pretty quickly and learn the character-based gags – like Jughead’s bottomless stomach or that Reggie is a jerk – pretty quickly. With that in mind, you can pretty much start anywhere with Archie from the companies 75+ year history and find enjoyable reads.
If you’re still not quite sure, here are some options to help you get started:
- Choose completely by random. Like I said earlier, Archie is very accessible so you can start almost anywhere. So why not just grab the first comic you see that catches your eye?
- Choose based on the character(s). If a certain character appeals to you then try their comics first. For instance, if you like the Betty and Veronica dynamic check out their series. If you’re more of Jughead fan then Jughead is for you.
- Digests. As I mentioned earlier digests are a good way to sample lots of stories old and new at a good price.
- Archie Graphic Novels. There is a heap of different graphic novels collecting Archie comic stories and strips. Most of them either collect stories around a theme or a curated best of. Some of these graphic novels are massive and collect 1000 pages of content!
- Digital Exclusive Comics. In recent years Archie Comics has been collecting Traditional Archie in curated digital comic collections. Like the graphic novels, they collect stories based on characters or a theme. Unlike graphic novels, these collections are only available digitally. Series include PEP Digital and Archie 75 Series.
Is The Riverdale TV Show Anything Like Traditional Archie?
Riverdale, or as I like to call it “sexy Archie”, takes the characters and their characteristics and then wraps them up something much darker and not appropriate for younger viewers. Traditional Archie is tonally nothing like Riverdale and is constructed on stories that are light, humour-centric and pretty fun overall. So nothing like it.
That’s not to say you won’t enjoy these comics, it’s just worth noting so you know that going in.
If you’re craving something with a bit more of a modern edge to it then New Riverdale is for you. Created by some of the best creators in comics, New Riverdale takes the core of classic Archie and brings it into the present. The result are comics starring these classic characters which are fresh, but also recognisable at the same time.
Visually, the classic house-style is put aside for artists with their own unique interpretation. So far there has been heaps of fantastic artists work on Archie including Fiona Staples, Derek Charm and Audrey Mok just to name a few. The stories are have a modern feel, adopting longer-form storytelling and elements of continuity.
Altogether, it’s a reboot for a new generation of comics fans which benefits from the best elements of modern comics and Traditional Archie.
If you’re a fan of CW’s Riverdale then this is the closest comics to the show – although nowhere near as dark or sexy.
Comics Included In The New Riverdale Line
Below are some of the popular comics which are part of the New Riverdale line:
- Archie (Read a preview of Archie #1)
- Betty and Veronica
- Josie and the Pussycats
- Reggie and Me
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch
- The Archies
Most of these series have trade paperback collections available and they are great places to start. Start with volume 1 and make your way till you’ve caught up. It’s worth noting that most of the story arcs for Jughead are self-contained so it’s easy to jump on in single issues with the first issue of a story.
Which Comic Should I Read?
Each of the comics has a particular tone to them. Archie is more drama driven with humour laced throughout. On the other hand, Jughead is a straight comedy – often involving crazy situations. My suggestion is to base your decision on the kind of tone you like to read and if you enjoy it seek out more.
How Do I Tell Traditional Archie and New Riverdale Apart?
As many of the Traditional Archie and New Riverdale comics share the same name it can be confusing to tell the two apart if you know nothing about Archie Comics. There are a few different ways to tell the difference:
- The New Riverdale line began publican in mid-2015 so anything which is not a digest is most likely part of this line.
- Traditional Archie usually adopts the Archie house-style while New Riverdale had a wide range of styles. If it’s not in the house style then it’s more likely to be New Riverdale.
- The Archie Comics app is very good in separating the different lines, which can be used as a good reference if you are unsure.
Imagine you had the Archie gang and threw them into a horror movie setting. Well, imagine no longer as that’s essentially what Archie Horror is. It first started with Afterlife With Archie, a gory version of Archie in which zombies have taken over Riverdale. The line has since expanded with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, which is horrifying take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Comics Included In Archie Horror Line
- Afterlife With Archie
- Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
- Jughead: The Hunger
You can find out more about these comics and others in the Archie Horror Guide.
Is Archie Horror All Ages?
No. Nope. No Way. This is positively a comic for older readers. If you’re looking for an Archie comic for a younger audience then definitely stick with Traditional Archie. Archie Horror features horror themes, violence, sexual references and more.
Where Can I Find Archie Comics?
- Your Local Comic Book Store
- Newsstand Retailers
- Archie Comics App
- Archie Comics Webstore
- Online stores
If you’re looking for even more places to start here is another recommendation which has come from a reader:
— Tim Mikulski (@tim_mik) February 16, 2017