Archie, one of our favourite comics growing up, had a number of artists, one of the most prolific being Thomas Moore or Tom, the Archie cartoonist who gave our beloved red-haired, freckle-face and his Riverdale friends their defining characteristics between the years 1953-1988. It was on Monday that the Archies Comics fandom were given the sad news that their beloved Tom Moore had passed away at his hometown of El Paso, Texas at the age of 86. He had been diagnosed with throat cancer.
The freckle-faced Archie, called “America’s Typical Teenager,” and his Riverdale gang of friends comprising, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Midge and the others have made generations of comic lovers laugh with their shenanigans and innocent antics. In honour of his memory, the Archie Comics Facebook page posted one of his well-known strips on Tuesday night.
Moore’s life as a cartoonist began while he was serving the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He had caricature of his captain and instead of reprimand, received praise for it and a job as a staff cartoonist. After the war he attended a school for cartoonists in New York training under Burne Hogarth, the famous “Tarzan” comic strip illustrator. It was just after this that he signed up with Archie Comics and took over the art in 1953 after it was created by Bob Montana in 1941. However in 1961, Moore took a break from work to return to his homeland and from then on, he worked on and off with Archie Comics, including on the revamped Jughead.
Calling Tom Moore a “cartoonist’s cartoonist,” Archie Comics’ editor in chief, Victor Gorelick said, “Tom was very funny and had a knack for putting together really great, hilarious gags and special pages when he worked at Archie.”
During the 1960s with Tom as its artist, Archie’s annual sales regularly went beyond the half million mark. In an interview in 1966, Moore said, “I did one comic book a month. I did everything. We always worked six months ahead. I’d be doing Christmas issues in June and beach stories with a foot of snow outside my window.”
Some of Moore’s work was also displayed at the El Paso Museum of Art in 1996. In an interview he said, “I have enjoyed what I’ve done and I am pleased that others liked it, too. I think it’s such a kick that my stuff is going to be hanging at the museum. Who knew Archie would have such universal appeal?”
Apart from Archie, Moore also designed Snuffy Smith, Mighty Mouse and Underdog.