If there was a silver lining from this series of sad events, it reaffirmed a sense of preservation of Dan's work and legacy in many. One fan/friend took this on as a mission, former Bongo Comics editor-in chief, Bill Morrison. Immediately after Dan's death, Morrison would either be directly responsible or assisted in various multi-media projects that helped reinforce Dan's legacy.
First of many of these projects came in 2005 with The Pin-Up Art Of Dan DeCarlo;. This was part of a series of books containing pin-up art from Humorama Publications of the 50's and 60's. Fantagraphics Books began to publish digest-sized collections of each of the more popular artists in Humorama cannon like Jack Cole, Bill Ward and DeCarlo. Each set was edited by art collector Alex Chun and Morrison offered an introduction for the DeCarlo book. Sales for the DeCarlo title proved to be popular enough to warrant a 'Volume Two' in 2007.
n 2006, Morrison had written what might be considered the biggest DeCarlo project ever; Innocence & Seduction: The Art Of Dan DeCarlo, a deluxe 208-page coffee table-sized book filled with art covering Dan's entire life; high school, art school, his Army days, his letters to Josette during the war, Timely and Archie comics and right up to some projects after his termination, which included a proposed Betty Page comic for Dark Horse. Like the pin-up books, this was also published by Fantagraphics Books.
The book also featured a detailed biography and an touching appreciation by Josie DeCarlo. In her piece, Josie notes that while Dan is better known as an accomplished artist, but to our family, he was much more.
"Dan and I had a wonderful life together. He was easy to live with, due to his great sense of humor and compassionate nature. He was always concerned with creating a happy life for us. He was very thoughtful and caring." Josie also noted that raising their grandchildren no different than raising their own two sons with the same amount of love and attention; "Most of all, he would relish their every accomplishment, whether it was art or in something else. He would never make them wait; even if he was burdened with deadlines he would leave his drawing table to be with them."
Much like Morrison, Josie continued Dan's legacy with appearances at conventions and related events until her death on March 12, 2012.
Later in 2006, small publisher, Airwave Publishing, offered a complete collection of the Jetta comic from the 50's. Outside of the reprinted pages, there was a new Jetta story written by Chris Yambar and drawn by Richard Maurizio done just for this edition. There are tribute pin-ups by Batton Lash and one by DeCarlo done in 1990. Morrison contributed not only the back cover and the front cover for the Special Limited Edition; but a lengthy introduction piece called, "Dan DeCarlo, Space-Age Cartoonist."
.....and as if the tidlewave of Dan material and the 2001 Josie CD wasn't enough, the T.V. series Josie & The Pussycats was finally released on DVD (8)! As a part of their Hanna-Barbera Classic Collection series, Warner Bros. Home Video released a 3-DVD set of the show in 2007. The only bonus material is a 22 minute documentary with a rather long title, 'The Irresistible Charm of Dan DeCarlo: The Man and His Art Profiling the Renowned Cartoonist, Illustrator, Archie Comics Veteran and Josie and the Pussycats Creator Through His Art and the Remembrances of His Biographer and Colleagues' [deep breath]
As the title suggests, many figure heads are interviewed for this documentary: Stan Lee, Scott Shaw!, Mark Evanier, Casey Kesem, Josie DeCarlo, Bill Morrison, Paul Dini, George Gladir and Michael Silberkleit. Yes, you read that right, Michael Silberleit was interviewed. Up until now, Silberkeit had remained silent about anything related to Dan and the lawsuits. This time, he opened up about Dan's contribution to Archie and to the fact that nobody came close to his style.
While Dan's name and legacy was resurging, Archie decided to give Josie another shot for a comeback, though from a different direction that one would not expect from this company.
In 2005, Archie had begun to experiment with Sabrina The Teenage Witch by adding a visual Manga influence into the mix. To make a VERY long background story short, Japanese Manga and Anime has been invading and influencing these American fanboy shores since the mid 80's and by in the early 90's, comic book companies like Viz Books had begun to sell official translated titles like Mai The Psychic Girl to comic book stores. As the years wore on, these influences managed in invade more mainstream comics like Marvel 'Magzaizing' some of their their popular titles.....and Archie was no different, albeit many years behind the curve.
After a Mangazed debut in Return To Riverdale #3 and Sabrina #68, Josie & The Pussycats Go Manga #1 was released in early 2006. It was written by the same author of the Sabrina Manga series, Tania Del Rio. This title re-traced the bands origins and even added a new character, Alan's younger sister Alison and a rival group the Vixens. This revival didn't last long and had a quick end by the end of the year.
From here, Josie went back into limbo.....deep limbo and if there was any chance for her to get out of this, it would be quite a long shot. As it turned out, some behind the scenes politics tied to Archies change of management and fresher direction would be the shots to do the trick.....a big noisy one!
Following the deaths of Richard Goldwater (2007) and Michael Silberkleit (2008), the keys to Riverdale where handed over to Silberkleit's widow, Nancy Silberkleit, and Goldwater's half-brother, Jon Goldwater. The transfer of power was not smooth as lawsuits soon flew everywhere surrounding Ms. Silberkleit sporadic abusive behavior towards office employees. It would take four years for the dust to settle and when it was done, Nancy's name would only show up on the letterheads as co-CEO with no further involvement.
With the dust of transfer settled and with Jon firmly in charge, Archie began to change direction into new territory with a new series of titles, covering such terrain that the company would have never considered even 5 years ago!
2010 first saw the introduction of Riverdale's first gay character, Kevin Keller, created by Dan Parent. At first, he was a character that Veronica failed to get with (but buddied up with Betty.....OUCH!) and soon found himself in his own comic title with much success. Other titles soon gradually began to address some no-no's that the old guard wouldn't address like death, gun control (which launches the mini-series 'Life Without Archie', same-sex marriage and other forms of the outside world invading Riverdale.
Then, through IDW Publishing, the company began to release a series of hard cover books each showcasing many of their old artists like Harry Lucey, Stan Goldberg, Samm Schwartz and Dan. In fact, as a testament to Dan's output for Archie, it took four books to cover a lot of his material, more than any other artists in this series. As with the 2001 'The Best Of Josie' collection, each book contained digitally scanned and colored pages.....only, this time, with his name on each of these titles. Dan's streak with IDW Publishing continued as they also re-published Airwaves’ complete Jetta collection that same year.
.....and the middle of this upheaval, Josie slowly returned.
In the pages of the main title, Archie, Josie and the Cats were featured in a story called 'Battle Of The Bands' that pitted her against The Archies during a American Idol show. However, a small sub-plot would soon ignite a major spark; mainly between Archie and Valerie as their rivalry turns to friendship and straight into a romance. Their new relationship goes through various challenges with band politics, publicity and jalousies, well as set off riptides like Betty and Trevor starting off on their own romance and Veronica budding up to Alex Cabot!
About a quarter into the story, Valerie goes for a walk and her mind begins to wonder about her future with Archie and a scenario unrolls unto the reader; Valerie and Archie marry and leave their respective bands to open a music school leaving The Archies to reform under a new name and Josie finding a replacement with Veronica. Events do accelerate when the couple expects a baby girl, Star (right). However, this bliss is interrupted by fame in the form of the paparazzi commandos from the likes of TMZ.
Valerie snaps out of this and soon thinks about other scenarios that turns down scarier paths. This time her imagination gets all caught up in the drama and she snaps out of it in a fit of panic. Archie finds her and both make a pack to focus their relationship on 'Here And Now!'. Dilton Doiton over hears and utters words you'd never read in a Archie comics of yore to the reader: "Roman poet Horace coined the phrase CARPE DIEM!! It means SEIZE THE DAY!!
In 2013, in the middle of the zombie craze, spearheaded by Max Brooks 'World War Z' and the comic and TV series Walking Dead, Archie launches 'Afterlife With Archie', a drama/horror mini-series speculating a zombie apocalypse raging through Riverdale with Jughead as "Patient Zero" (9). Issue #10 offered a solo story that takes place on 'Halloween B. P. (Before Plague)' where a reporter is about to interview Josie at the Chateau Marmont in L. A. Right off the bat, Josie reveals that she was born in 1906! Talk about foreshadowing!
What follows is an alternative goulash history of Josie which begins as a small baby left at the doorstep of an orphanage and she is left to her own wits through abusive hands of the owner, Alexandria Cabot. Despite the harsh surroundings, Josie makes friends with her fellow roommates, Melody, Valerie and Pepper and in short order they discover they could sing well together. A boyfriend of Alexandria senses an show-business opportunity, crowns them 'The Cabot Sisters' and puts them on tour.
The group proves to be a success, but the act is soon broken up when Alexandria marries Pepper off to her "Uncle Buddy". The rest of the girls are soon whisked off to a private party at a secluded mansion and it is there that Josie meets the owner who offers her an opportunity to "be a star and live forever" and the night ends with a lot of blood and red ink. When the girls later press Josie on what happened on the previous night, she pulls them aside and turns them into vampires and are soon seen flying off to their new "non-daylight" lives.
At this point, I won't give away any further plot points other that the last scene features The Pussycats about to land in Riverdale in the middle of its plague.....and as for the reporter.....and Pepper? To say the least, this is a very dramatic and interesting read. Like the rest of the 'Afterlife' series (and unlike standard Josie fare up to this point), this is meant for the older teen crowd who do like a little horror in their reading.
The success of these new comics launches more titles that are separate from the rest of the companies main output, aimed at an older audience with higher level of quality and maturity with artists far outside the usual stable, names like Adam Hughes and Jamie Hernandez (of Love & Rocket fame) soon started to appear in their pages. It seems that any animosity the comic industry had against Archie over Dan DeCarlo's treatment (and vice versa) began to fade off. A bigger and historic example of this new calmer age was the demise of the Comic Code Authority.
By 2010, many publishers were abandoning the CCA to set up their own ratings system leaving the Authority with only one participant left, Archie, who also owned and separately ran the CCA. Sensing a path to its demise, Jon Goldwater finally pulled the plug on the CCA by taking the 'Approved' logo off Archie covers and closing the offices forever. (10)
Another break from the past came when Archie began to offer digital copies of compilations of their old catalog through their web site and Amazons ComiXology. Under many of these old pages offered actual credits of artists behind these once anonymous pieces.....Including the name of Dan DeCarlo!