At this point, comic sales and the TV ratings were going well. As the old saying goes: ‘If ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ Unfortunately, the correct line for this would be Fudd’s First Law Of Opposition: ‘If you push something hard enough, it will fall over’ (6). Hanna-Barbara (or someone else) decided to tinker and revamp ‘Josie’ for more ratings. Josie was prepped for another round of changes, but could it last? Would she survive this round?
A pundit would remark that these changes would have to be “out of this world”. He wasn’t just throwing cliches
around. So on Saturday, Sept. 9th, 1972 in the same time slot as the old show, ‘Josie & The Pussycats in Outer
In the opener called ‘Where’s Josie?’, the gang visits the NASA space station as part of a promotional event. While posing in front of a rocket prototype, Alexandra tries to hog the cameras by forcing herself to the fore of the gang. However, she gets carried away and pushes herself and the group into the rocket and, on impact, triggers the rocket to blast off blindly into ‘Outer Space’. Thus, ‘Lost In Space’ forever (or until cancellation).
The cast in front and behind the camera remained the same with only minor adjustments. One of them was a new character to keep Melody pre-occupied, a muppet reject named ‘Bleep’.
Now, instead of spies, ghouls and other old-fashioned bad guys & gals, Josie and friends had to deal with left-over creatures from the animated ‘Star Trek’ series. Lots of the old mysteries that made the show campy and good (like any good B-movie flick) were gone and viewers knew it. To keep viewers interested and ratings steady, CBS later ran the old show behind ‘Outer Space’, but it didn’t help. In January 1974, ‘Outer Space’ was cancelled and the old show stayed on until August then both shows went off into Syndicationland.
The comic continued the EC path until #73 (Dec. 1973). By then, the horror theme was gone and Alexandra’s powers were toned down to almost nothing. Everything went back to where it had been just before the H-B shows premiered. The old-fashioned love circle was back at the forefront.
Towards the mid-seventies, America was about to go through another cultural tidal wave and it was spearheaded by disco!! As with any incoming major fad, the previous ones were buried and quickly forgotten. So with disco and its related riptides, the era that produced ‘Archies’, ‘Josie’ and their ilk was eclipsed and forgotten.
With no network show for support, Josie’s popularity and circulation began to wane to the point that by #95 (August 1977), the publishing output was reduced from 7 times a year to biannual books. It seemed Josie was just about gone for good as the new decade of the eighties came upon us with MTV and Ronald Reagan.
After #106 (October 1982), ‘Josie’ became a part of the ‘Archie Giant Series Magazine’. This was an umbrella
imprint that would rotate various smaller titles which included solo ‘Betty & Veronica’ adventures, ‘Laugh’, ‘Sabrina’ and ‘Jughead’. Even with this setting, ‘Josie’ was still out only twice a year.
She was given another chance with Giant Series #540 (August 1984) with a “new image”. The cover story started off with the Pussycats announcing to their audience that they have just played their final gig as inflation and outdated equipment had begun to take financial toll. The Cabot siblings caught wind of the news and came to the Pussycats’ rescue by propositioning “Mr. Money Bags” (their dad) to “invest” in the group.
At first, Mr. Cabot only agrees just to get the brats off his back, but later, he has a change of heart as he drools over the large amount of money he’ll loose as part of a year end tax write off. As he tells his concerned accountant, “Consider my chances! A three-piece all-girl band....and if that isn’t negative enough to guarantee a loss, my own *ugh* Alex, with his room-temperature I. Q., will be managing them, with the help of his scatterbrained sister!” He offers the Pussycats the works; brand-new costumes, equipment and just about everything else including the use of the family jet to take them to any engagement in the world.
Their first run is at ‘The Kit Kat Klub’ in London, England, but as they arrive, they discover that the club is a punk bar/dive. Being show troopers, the Pussycats rearrange their hair and outfits and perform regardless. The club owner isn’t any better a bargain either, since his looks and manners are similar to Ozzy Osburne on too much drugs and pigeon heads. As it turns out, the club is nothing more than a front for a diamond smuggling operation and the ‘Cats’ were only used as decoys. Thanks to Valerie’s’ suspicions, she fingers the owner, his thugs and the smuggling ring and finds the diamonds in Alexandra’s facial jar. The motley crew is arrested and the Pussycats return triumphant to a heroes welcome back home at Cabot’s Airport with fans and show business offers galore awaiting. Mr. Money Bag’s plan for a healthy write-off was, as the punch line went, “written off”.
The old formula from the TV series was back; the globetrotting, the accidental crime-fighting, but this time they were no longer a struggling scruffy pack. They now had the money, but the adventures weren’t as interesting anymore. This pattern continued until its last full issue, #610 (Sept. 1990). Afterwards, ‘Josie’ was regulated to short back stories in Archie’s anthology, ‘Laugh’, reprints in various digests and appearances in a couple of Archie crossovers with ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ (1990) and ‘The Punisher’ (1994).
Blink if you miss 'em
appearances in The
Punisher (left) and