Occult #11: Josie Possessed

In the last Occult post, I showed you a story in Archie comics that seemed a bit heavy handed with the occult. Well, that was nothing, folks.  In this one, Josie becomes possessed by an evil spirit... and it is disturbing as shit.  

I know Archie comics became "born again" at some point in their history, but this ain't it - the rest of the issue is completely "normal".  The Josie issues before and after this issue were free from overt religious messages.... so, I don't know what the f--k is going on here. 

I'm no expert in Archie comics (I have, however, been reading them for four decades), so I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable than I can fill me in. 

Perhaps Archie comics were slipping in "born again Christian" story lines as early as '73, but I seem to remember this happening much later (like the early eighties). Or, perhaps, the authors had just seen The Exorcist and let their enthusiasm run away with them.

Either way, shame on them.  Archie comics are supposed to be lighthearted fun. How dare they have Josie literally scratching and growling like Linda Blair. If I had read this as a kid, I would have rolled up into the fetal position and crapped my pants.  This just serves as another example of how nothing, I repeat NOTHING, was off limits in the seventies.

Check out the story in its entirety. I'm not making any of this up, and I haven't altered a single image. This is the real deal - Josie & the Pussycats #72, October 1973.   You have been warned.




  1. That was righteous! Could have been straight out of EC Comics, except for the art.

  2. Dan DeCarlo's young women are adorable even when their faces are "contorted into masks of indescribable evil."

  3. The artist for this story is Dick Malmgren, not Dan DeCarlo.

  4. I truly detest the Spire Christian Archies with a passion...but this story almost makes them look good by comparison. The Spire stuff was at least written with some earnest intent, however dogmatic. I think you're right that this one was nothing more than an attempt to capitalize on The Exorcist.

  5. I have read this before, but I always get a kick out of bikini-clad Josie running round screaming "Hate! Kill! Revenge!"

  6. Odd, to say the least!

    It had to irk DeCarlo (creator of Josie) this story was approved, let alone published, as it deviates even more from the average Archie tale with dramatic overtones than usual. If he had worked on it, it would've been drastically rewritten and injected with his trademark humorous visuals!

  7. I don't believe the "Spire Christian Comics" Archie series existed in the same continuity as the "Classic" Archie comics (of which the above issue of "J.A.T.P." is a part). Spire was its own distinct entity, and no real overlap between the two was intended (a bit of an unrealistic set-up, since we're dealing with the same characters in both series. I remember being a bit confused as a youngster by the "two Archies," myself. I always preferred the more "risque" classic version!). If this was D.C. comics, they would have referred to it as "earth 1 Archie" and "earth X-12 Archie," or something.
    I'll admit that the story you featured (with its themes of theistic possession)serves to blur the lines even further. It wasn't easy being a kid in the 70s.

    an exhaustive and interesting history of Spire and the people behind the scenes can be found here: http://generationexploitation.blogspot.com/2006/06/history-of-christian-archi_114951302719460209.html

  8. Yeah, this was from a brief period when Archie was trying to tap into the "relevant" trend in comics. There were some fairly dramatic ones that I remember liking quite a bit. Not that nostalgia would be coloring my memories....

  9. Good god (no pun intended)--that's the kind of story and theology that would embarrass the idiots over at Chick Publications. I'm offended by that story as an atheist--but I'd be even more offended if I was a Christian. Because I really hate mayo, does that mean my rage will live on, ruining the good times of everyone who eats tunafish sandwiches?

    And the physical act of holding a Bible, because it's the "truth"? Does that mean exorcists also used Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy--until after 1905, then they used those articles on Relativity from Einstein?

    What kind of misguided idiot would think that kind of primitive animist idolatry had ANYTHING to do with the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth?

    On a wholly unrelated note, what is that musical note that follows everything Melody says? Does she whistle? Or sing a note? Bang like a gong? As someone who's always been partial to platinum blondes and T-Rex, I could really go for a Bang a Gong Melody......

    Now I forgot what I was talking about.

  10. Melody speaks in a "sing-song" voice, hence the notes included in her word balloons.

  11. Also, I think I can shed a little light on what the heck was going on with this "children's" comic. In 1970, Josie and Co. got their own animated Saturday Morning cartoon. The series was done by Ruby/Spears, the same folks responsible for Scooby Doo, and structurally was more similar to Scooby Doo than it was to the actual comic. Whether this was an artistic decision or board room driven ("Give me another Scooby Doo, drones!"), I can't say.

    No doubt, the folks at Archie Comics thought it would be wise to bring the comic into the same mystery-solving genre as the show, so with the September 1971 issue, things got a whole lot creepier and stayed that way until issue 68 (April 1973). Remember, too, that the Comic Code had been changed early in 1971, meaning things like demonic possession, the undead, vampires, and the occult were now fair game again. Although no one in the business really knew what they would be able to get away with.

    By April 1973, the T.V. show had been canceled (although it continued in reruns for a few more years), so the Josie comic returned to form -- that is, teen humor, rather than teen horror. Issues 71 and 72 were probably leftover commissioned stories from the era where they were following the teen-sleuth model and published because Archie didn't want to pay for something and not use it.