Thursday, June 9, 2016


That's blood.
Filling a howling need which I'm not sure anyone was experiencing, America's Favorite Teenager Archie famously made the switch to short-pants in a series of Little Archie books which launched in the mid-Fifties and ran through the better part of the Eighties. Reducing Riverdale's cast of characters to pint-size brought us pocket-monster versions of Jughead, Veronica, Betty, Reggie, Moose, Samhain, Busternut, Thunderbutter, Cash Back, Slow Clap, Ace Bonghit and all the other classic Pep Comics characters we'd come to know and love. Plus one more -- Little Ambrose.

The sound of Ambrose being murdered. For larfs.
Little Ambrose Pipps was one of a handful of characters created specifically for the Little Archie series, and the only one who spun off into his own short-lived comic. While other roles had been filled among the newly-created cast -- the Little Archie gang acquired a class bully, a rival street gang, a fat girl, a poor girl, a slightly mentally disturbed girl, a couple of aliens and a pair of psychopaths -- Ambrose had the misfortune of being the scapegoat.

Little Archie is already famous for the -- let's call it "rough" -- sense of humor of creator Bob Bolling, for whom the height of comedy involved a chubby-cheeked Archie bashing the living fuck out of girls whenever his anger overtook him. I can clearly recall Little Archie straight-up pulling Veronica's hair and slugging Betty right in the face, and I would not be surprised to find there was also a scene of Ronnie being hucked through a fourth-floor picture window and Betty losing a finger to Little Archie's bespoke Yakuza.

"...let them beat you within an inch of your life!"
But however bad the girls had it, Ambrose had it worse. Diminutive and weak, Ambrose made a too-tempting target for the tyrannical triumvirate of Archie, Jughead and Reggie (and Moose, sometimes, so I guess they're actually a cruel quartet, but I hadn't established the alliteration for that in advance). Desperate to be included in "the big kids gang," Ambrose was frequently taken advantage of by the hard-hearted boychiks -- ditched, abandoned, tortured, abused, robbed, lied to and ignored.

In the first issue of his eponymous series, Ambrose has his life savings ripped offa him, is thrown into a haunted house, robbed a second time, strongarmed into surrendering a pretty amazing soapbox bus he's built himself, left to die in aforementioned now-runaway bus, and generally mocked and despised.

Ambrose gets his own back, but the kid without a mean bone in his body only ever uses his reverse fortune to cozy up to his abusers. There's something kind of sick about Little Ambrose.

Possibly the saddest part of Little Ambrose's unfortunate career is that he got Funky Winkerbean'd when no one was looking. After decades of obscurity and an unmarked grave out behind the Little Archie clubhouse, Ambrose was brought back in one of the company's recent speculative futures for their characters. This time around, however, Ambrose was portrayed as an orphaned child of divorce, suffering from delusional memories and mocked and degraded by those around him. Chee. Some fun, comic books, I can see why sales are higher than ever.

Normal healthy boys spend a night in the box.


Ted Craig said...

That last panel reads like a scene from the first season of "Oz," with Lil Archie as Vern Schillinger and Ambrose as Tobias Beecher.

Frankipop said...

Little Ambrose resembles a young Andy Capp. That would explain a lot.

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