Valerie Smith In Comic Books

Valerie Smith In Comic Books

The Museum Of UnCut Funk presents A Josie and The Pussycats Comic Book Retrospective featuring Valerie Smith.

Josie and the Pussycats is an American comic book created by Dan DeCarlo and published by Archie Comics in 1963. The series featured an all-girl pop music band, consisting of three beautiful girls. While touring the world, the girls undergo strange adventures and spy capers and solve many mysteries. The series was later adapted into a Saturday morning cartoon show in 1970 that was produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The show was known for its music, girls’ leopard print leotards and the first female Black character, Valerie Brown, appearing in a Saturday morning cartoon show.

Josie and the Pussycats is the creation of well-known humor cartoonist, Dan DeCarlo. DeCarlo had also created other teen and career-girl comic characters in the 1950s, such as Millie the Model for Atlas Comics. Eventually, he began freelancing for Archie Comics, which was when he created the characters of Josie and her friends. Josie was launched in Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals #23 in 1962. Eventually, in February 1963, the first issue ‘She’s Josie’ was released. The series introduced sweet natured Josie, her blonde bombshell friend, Melody and bookwormish brunette, Pepper. The initial series also featured Josie and Peppers’ boyfriends Albert and Sock respectively, Albert’s rival Alexander Cabot III and Alex’s twin sister Alexandra.

With the issue #17 that released in December 1965, ‘She’s Josie’ was renamed to ‘Josie’ and in December 1969, the series was renamed to ‘Josie and the Pussycats’, with issue #45. It was in this issue wherein Josie and Melody came up with the idea of starting a band called Pussycats. On asking Alexandra to be their bassist, she insisted on changing the name of the group to Alexandra’s Cool Time Cats. Hence, Alexandra was replaced by a new girl in school, Valerie Smith. Valerie was renamed Valerie Brown in the cartoon. While Josie James became the lead singer and guitarist, Valerie was portrayed as the intelligent tambourine player and Melody Jones as the blonde drummer. Their band uniforms had leopard prints that were complemented with cat-ear headbands and long tails. Surprisingly, Alex was appointed as the manager of the Pussycats.

Josie and the Pussycats #45.

Josie and the Pussycats #45.

The comic series were reimagined in 1970 with Albert, Sock and Pepper being phased out. Thereafter, the series emphasized on the Pussycats traveling across the country and world, performing gigs with Alan M. Mayberry, Alex and Alexandra in tow. The same year, the series was adapted into a Saturday morning cartoon show, under the banner Hanna-Barbera Productions. The series debuted with the episode ‘The Nemo’s a No-No Affair’. This animated series was a combination of plot devices, moods and tones that were different from other Hanna-Barbera shows like Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Jonny Quest, Space Ghost and Shazzan.

The final issue #106 was released in October 1982, after which the series finished its run. Henceforth, the girls were featured in different Archie Giant Series issues and miniseries and one-shot comics of their own. Josie stories were reprinted in Archie digest reprint magazines.  Josie and the Pussycats were released as a live-action motion picture by Universal Studios and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 2001.

Source: “History Of Josie And The Pussycats,” The Iloveindia website, 2013

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