Comic Book: Josie and the Pussycats

The first issue of Josie's own title.
Josie and the Pussycats is the eventual title of a long-running Archie Comics feature starring the redheaded Josie. Josie was originally created by Archie mainstay Dan DeCarlo as the star of a proposed newspaper comic strip. She instead ended up becoming an Archie spinoff character, debuting in Archie's Pals and Gals #23 (Winter 1962-1963) shortly before getting her own title, She's Josie.

Originally, she was something of a Distaff Counterpart Archie Expy, a levelheaded and easy-going girl whose best friends were Dumb Blonde Melody and Brainy Brunette Pepper.

Following Filmation's success with The Archie Show in 1968, Hanna-Barbera sought to develop its own Archie property. Since The Archie Show also produced a number of hit records by The Archies, Archie Comics revamped the Josie property to support similar crossover possibilities. Josie became the headliner of a band, Valerie, a new girl at school, was introduced as that band's new bassist, and Josie's series was retitled Josie and the Pussycats in late 1969. The animated Josie and the Pussycats debuted in September of 1970.

Josie and her friends have remained regular Archie Comics fixtures. Although the Josie and the Pussycats title was canceled in 1982 (followed by a brief revival on the heels of the 2001 feature film), the characters have regularly appeared in Archie titles. In 2010, Valerie became a love interest for Archie Andrews, a romance that was explored (as with his longtime romantic interests Betty and Veronica) in What If? stories that show an older Archie and Valerie marrying and having a baby together.

This comic provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Josie, sometimes, though the comics are inconsistent about whether her surname is Jones or James, or whether it's McCoy as in the 2001 film.
  • Author Appeal/Write Who You Know: Josie was based on Dan DeCarlo's wife, also named Josie. As you can see here, the real-life Josie also filled out a pussycat costume nicely.
    • Pepper was based on Dan DeCarlo's son's girlfriend.
  • Beatnik: Albert, who plays a guitar, doesn't cut his hair, and hangs out in coffee houses. When hippies replaced beatniks in pop culture, he was dropped from the comic and replaced with the hippie Clyde Didit, who looked almost exactly the same except with Cool Shades.
  • Beauty, Brains and Brawn: Melody, Valerie, and Josie, respectively. Although Valerie could be both Brains and Brawn.
  • Black Best Friend: Valerie to Josie and Melody.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Originally, Melody, Pepper, and Josie. Later, Melody, Valerie, and Josie.
  • Brainless Beauty: Melody, beauty and ditzy.
  • Brainy Brunette: Pepper.
  • Cat Girl: The theme of the Pussycats. They are examples of costume wearing cat girls.
  • Cool Shades: Clyde Didit.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Josie's friends Pepper, Albert, and Sock vanished from the feature in the 1969 Re Tool, though Pepper returned for a brief cameo in a 2007 story.
  • Creator Cameo: Josie #38 has an teenaged Dan De Carlo running into Josie with the usual results when he meets Melody.
  • Darker and Edgier: For a while in the early '70s, the comics featured adventure and even horror stories in addition to the typical Archie-style humor. This trend may have reached its apex with the story "Vengeance from the Crypt". In this story (no doubt inspired by The Exorcist), Josie is a victim of straight-up, no-kidding Demonic Possession! (Don't worry, Satan is ultimately banished by the Cabot family Bible!)note 
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pepper. Valerie also developed into this after her first few appearances.
  • Dispel Magic: The Rich Bitch Alexandra Cabot can cast witchcraft spells, but these are fragile spells whose effects are ended by as little as Melody Valentine snapping her fingers, which Melody is wont to do.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Josie and her early friends were very much opposite-gender versions of the Archie gang- a redhead hero, a quirky best friend, a blonde nice character and a brunette nasty one competing over the hero, etc.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Melody is the poster girl for this trope. When male characters see her, they uncontrollably fall for her and lose all sense of anything else, frequently leading to chaos; although, she is usually oblvious to this.
    • She nearly got lynched by a town full of angry teenage girls whose boyfriends got distracted by her. And she only escaped because Alan M is her male counterpart.
    • She is also a dumb blonde. One time they put her in a heavy fur coat, and the guys are STILL going crazy, which prompts Josie to say, "I dunno. Maybe they have good memories?" And she ignores it.
    • In another, Melody chases off some boys to get "peace and quiet," while Josie and Valerie get depressed.
  • The Ditz: Melody. She is an absent-minded, bubbly sort of character often taken to using silly, nonsense language, and provides much of the comic relief of the series.
  • Dumb Blonde: The blonde Melody is a classic example. There was a story in which she was certain that nylons were an endangered animal and that Josie and Alexandra's fake fur coats were made from "cute, cuddly orlons".
  • Dumb Is Good: Melody may not have a very big brain, but she certainly has a very big heart, making her one the nicest Archie characters, especially in the animated series!
  • Dumb Muscle: Sock
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Issue #17
  • Expy:
    • Alexandra, of Veronica Lodge. Same attitude (though Alexandra almost never gets a Pet the Dog moment), same dark hair (with a white streak in it), same role towards the Nice Girl Josie. The only difference is that Alan M, her romantic target, scarcely reciprocates her feelings at all - that, and the fact that she had magic powers for a time.
    • Josie herself is a near-Expy for Archie
    • Pepper has a similar role to Jughead.
  • Follow the Leader: Archie Comics knew a good setup when they had one. A story about a redheaded hero being fought over by a blonde and a brunette, while having a brunette rival and a quirky, dark-haired best friend.
    • The comic itself underwent many retools in response to pop-culture trends. In 1968, due to the popularity of Laugh In, the comic became a Laugh-In clone, even using catchphrases directly borrowed from the show.
  • Freudian Trio: Melody the Id, Josie the Ego and Valerie the Superego.
  • Fur Bikini: Josie and the Pussycats wear them occasionally. Melody sometimes will wear one in contrast to one-pieces worn by Josie and Valerie.
  • Gender Bender: In the Archie Comics story "The Great Switcheroo", Sabrina the Teenage Witch's cat, Salem, casts a spell that changes the sex of everybody in Riverdale. This includes Josie and the Pussycats, who perform as "Joey and the Junkyard Dogs".note 
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Over in a issue, Valerie told Josie that their van broke down on the highway, and was asking for money for repairs. Josie says that she's also broke, but it doesn't matter, since the van will probably be torn frame by frame by road pirates by the time the girls get there. Now, read this exchange:
    Valerie: I left Melody in it, to guard it.
    Josie: If those roadway pirates see her frame, they won't bother stripping the van!
  • Hello, Nurse!: Running Gag is that Melody causes this reaction wherever she goes, and is too naive/dumb to notice.
  • Hot Witch: Alexandra, in a number of stories, was secretly a witch, with Sebastian as her familiar, and would often use her magic or mischief or to get back at Josie for perceived wrongs — though it would almost always backfire on her in some way. The original concept was that she was descended from a warlock named Sebastian Cabot, who had re-incarnated as her black-and-white cat — and so, whenever she held Sebastian in her arms she could cast all kinds of spells. It would vary from story to story whether she needed Sebastian or not; in some stories her powers wouldn't work without him, while in others she was fine working magic even if he wasn't around. It also varied wildly whether Alexander knew about her magic or not.
  • Inept Mage: Alexandra, in the issues where she had magical powers. "I seem to be some sort of an inaccurate witch."
  • Informed Deformity: Several early issues imply Pepper is supposed to be unattractive.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: One comic has Melody try to undress in front of men, only to be shielded from view by "spoilsport" Josie.
  • I Owe You My Life: The plot of issue #8.
  • It's Fake Fur, It's Fine: Alexandra switches her furs to this, but Melody thinks she just killed a bunch of orlons.
  • Jerkass: Alexandra. Also, Alexander can slip between this and Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Large Ham: While this fell to Alexandra in the cartoon, Alexander often exemplified this trope in the comics.
  • Love Triangle: A minor one between Josie, Albert, and Alexander at first, though Alexander was clearly somewhat unwanted. With the "Pussycats" retool came Alan M., and then it became purely unrequited on Alex's part.
  • Malaproper: Melody does this frequently. One story has Josie and Valerie shocked that "she finally got one right!" In another story, Melody's 'mixed-up maxims' are mistaken for Spy Speak, and she's handed something from another agent, because she inexplicably rattled off a code-phrase!
  • Ms. Fanservice: Melody. She wears the skimpiest outfits and draw all the male attention.
  • New Season, New Name: Twice, the comic was initially called She's Josie (see image above), then changed its name to Josie starting with issue #17, only to change its name to (the obviously most famous title) Josie and The Pussycats starting with issue #45.
  • Nice, Mean and In-Between: Melody is the ditzy but nice one, Alexandra is the mean and sarcastic one, and Josie is really nice, if not as nice as Melody.
  • Obliviously Beautiful: Melody. Often she misinterprets the reason why men are interested in her.
  • Pretty in Mink: Alexandra.
  • Redheaded Hero: Josie, of course.
  • Re Tool: She's Josie was a fairly simple series, featuring Josie as a red-haired everygirl who had a snarky, odd-dressing best friend, a nice blond and a nasty brunette fighting over her, a rich rival, etc. Basically a Distaff Counterpart Archie. When Hanna-Barbera asked the Archie company for another group to mimic the success of "The Archies," Josie suddenly shifted into being defined by her existence in a band. Best friend Pepper was dropped, Black Best Friend Valerie was added, and the focus of the feature became "traveling band" instead of a regular teens in high school.
  • Rich Bitch: Alexandra, the sarcastic and selfish twin sister of the Pussycats' manager, Alexander.
  • Rock Trio: A pop version that swapped the bass guitar with a tambourine.
  • Sexy Spectacles: An issue has Melody gets glasses, and for some reason, attracts even more guys (if that's even possible), which prompts Josie and Valerie to pretend to be blind in order to get glasses themselves.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: The issue that introduced Alan M. also introduced two other new characters as potential regulars, The Unintelligible drummer Gloomer and his girlfriend/translator Instant Replay. Neither one ever appeared again.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Melody is so beautiful that almost any man who sees her gets Distracted by the Sexy and suffers Amusing Injuries. In one story, the Pussycats can't get any work at a club because the female customers are so infuriated at losing all their boyfriends to Melody.
    • Zig-zagged in a story where a little boy is seen stalking Melody. When Alexander uncovers him, the kid tearfully confesses that he was stalking Melody because he was in love with her. Melody is so flattered she kisses the boy right on the lips, which sends him rocketing into the sky.
  • Standardized Leader: Josie suffers from this at times. Alexandra is the main plot driver, and Valerie is the main problem solver, leaving Josie not very much to do.
  • There Are No Adults: Teenage musicians just wander around performing in strange places with no parents, or chaperones, or other authority figures... and everyone's okay with this.
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Josie the child (sweet, lovable, innocent), Melody the seductress (Hello, Nurse!, Ms. Fanservice), and Valerie the wife figure (smartest, looks out for the others).
  • The Vamp: Melody becomes this on the rare occasions when she stops being the Innocent Fanservice Girl and deliberately tries to seduce men.
  • Tomboy: Valerie is frequently a Wrench Wench or Tsundere. She Cleans Up Nicely, though.