Review of Bob Bolling's ARCHIE AND FRIENDS #30

Written: 20 May, 1998

Archie and Friends #30 came out today! As you may know, I've been waiting for this issue for a few months, when I first heard that it would be an all-Bob Bolling issue. Bob Bolling is my favorite Archie writer/artist -- he drew several Archie & Me stories that I enjoyed very much circa 1983-84 -- so it was good to be able to buy a new comic that is written & penciled by him.

Anyway, the first story is 11 pages long and concerns the Archie gang, along with Mr. Weatherbee and Mr. Lodge going out to a lake to go fishing. Bolling uses an owl as a commentator at various points in the story -- I was glad to see this Bolling technique used here since I remember him using narrators and hosts in past stories. A mood of danger is established by the prescence of a large pike floating under the water, with a lure embedded in its mouth, a mark of a previous encounter with Mr. Weatherbee! The wildlife and environment of the forest and lake is emphasized in this story, so much so that it reminded me of some Disney Donald Duck stories I've read that had a similar feel. Dilton Doiley appeared younger than I expected him to look when he climbs up a tree to view a bird's nest. The real estate manager named Craig encounters a sea-beast named the Gummi-Gammoo and its offspring in Loon Lake. The writing in this story is intelligent and the drawings of the humans and animals are amusing. I wish that the story had gone on longer, in fact, and had gone into more detail. Bolling seems to put a lot of detail and atmosphere in his story and would be a good choice to do an Archie graphic novel, or an extra-long story.

The next story in the issue is a 6-pager about Archie helping Dilton on a paper route. Dilton has a machine that will deliver papers faster, but the machine backfires. Later when Dilton asks for Archie's help again, Archie refuses, only to learn later that it was for a different job, helping Dilton at a summer school for girls. Archie missed out on that job, and ends up as a dishwasher for Pop Tate. The final story of the issue, and the funniest one in my opinion, is a 5-pager where the whole gang is on the beach. I was reading this in a car on a hot day, and this story really reflected the mood of summer to me. The funniest part of this story was the stuff about Moose...he doesn't understand a joke, and Dilton tells him to forget it, and why not collect some shells. Well, Moose finds a big artillery shell and brings it over to the gang. Then suddenly Moose starts laughing, since he finally got the joke from before! Everyone is afraid that he'll drop the shell and blow them all up, so they are hiding behind rocks as Moose laughs on the beach, holding the shell!

Well, that's all for the comic! I enjoyed it. I especially liked the first story because of the mood and the unique bolling touches like the owl as commentator. It'd be nice to see Bolling do Archie comics again on a regular basis!