As part of Archie’s 70th Anniversary celebration, Archie Comics has been opening the doors to its archives and bringing back its entire stable of characters. In the last few months we have seen the return of Lil’ Jinx in Life with Archie, Sabrina the Teenage Witch (complete with bob haircut) in Archie and Friends, Josie and the Pussycats and That Wilkin’ Boy, Bingo Wilkin are scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of Archie and Katy Keene is slated to appear by the end of the year. Furthermore, as part of the now classic Night at the Comic Shop, some of the stranger and more obscure members of the Archie Comics family has made their return, including Cosmo the Merry Martian, Gloomy Gus the Homeless Ghost, Captain Sprocket, Sam Hill – Private Eye, as well as more far too lengthy to list. Archie Comics is really showing off its stable of characters, reminding readers that Archie Comics’ history extends far beyond Riverdale USA. However, amongst the characters reappearing there seems to be one strip that is being completely ignored by the people at Archie. One of the strangest of all the Archie comic titles ever produced, there seems to be no indication that Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood will be returning to Archie Comics for the 70th celebration. What? You never heard of Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood? Trust me. In one of the biggest “WTF” moments of my career as a pop culture addict, neither had I until I stumbled across a one page comic gag in an early 1980’s issue of Archie. One part ego trip, one part nepotism and 100% weird, little actual publishing information Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood seems to exist, making the strip one of the oddest and perhaps misguided, moments in Archie Comics’ history.
So before we can continue, we must first answer the question “Just who is Glenn Scarpelli anyways?” Well, Glenn Scarpelli was not a fictional character. No. He was a real guy appearing in a hit television show. Joining the hit sit-com One Day at a Time in 1983, Glenn Scarpelli was basically the “Cousin Oliver” of the program – a good looking, inoffensive kid who was introduced in hopes to add a new element that would boost sagging ratings. Having nearly no real presence on the pop culture map previous to One Day at a Time, Glenn made perhaps a blip on the radar, being popular enough with viewers, getting a little bit of attention in teen magazines and, at one time, even going so far to record a dance album. However, for the most part, Glenn didn’t really become a stand out television star nor a major teen idol. So if this was the case, why did Glenn Scarpelli get his own series of comic adventures in Archie Comics?
The answer was simple. His father, Henry Scarpelli, was one of the principal artists at Archie Comics. Now it all makes sense. When your Dad is drawing the comic books, you can end up wherever you want. Originally getting into the teen humor genre in the 1960’s by drawing Dan DeCarlo style comics for DC, including Swing with Scooter, Leave it to Binky and Date with Debbi, in a “if you can’t beat them, join them” move, Henry Scarpelli joined Archie Comics in the early 1970’s, eventually becoming one of the primary artists alongside Dan DeCarlo himself. Now, when Henry’s son Glenn got the role of Alex Handris on One Day at a Time, it was natural for Henry and his colleagues at Archie Comics to be excited for the prospects of Glenn’s chance at the big time. However, instead of seeing how it all worked out, with Henry Scarpelli at the helm, Archie Comics jumped the gun a bit and put Glenn Scarpelli front and center in Archie Comics without seeing just how much of a teen sensation he actually would become. Glenn’s first appearance would be in Archie #330 where he appeared on the cover being sandwiched between Betty and Veronica as Reggie and Archie glared on, obviously thinking exactly what the rest of the world was thinking – WTF? Reggie growls “Glenn Scarpelli has everything, Archie! Looks, talent, charisma! All the girls idolize him!” with Archie begrudgingly replying “But does that have to include Betty and Veronica?” Wow. There wasn’t much humbleness coming out of the Scarpelli camp when it came to good ol’ Glenn, was there? Of course, time would tell that Archie and Reggie would have the last laugh, and the real punch line would be on Betty and Veronica when Glenn Scarpelli ended up being gay. Of course that didn’t happen in the comic books (the first gay character in Archie Comics is, of course, Kevin Keller who made his debut in 2010). However, long after his time in Hollywood, and long after his comic strip would be barely a memory, Glenn came out of the closet and settled down in Arizona with his long time partner. But, before this revelation, much of Glenn’s adventures in Hollywood, as written and drawn by his father, usually revolved around the beach, girls and celebrities.
From his appearance in Archie #330, Glenn was immediately given his own back up feature throughout the Archie line of comics titled – you got it – Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood. Of course the feature was written and drawn by his father. Most of the strips were one page gag strips but at least a few full length stories existed. Just how many and what issues they appeared in has been unrecorded, but Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood did appear in Archie’s TV Laugh Out #100 and Laugh Comics #386 and 387. In one outrageous strip, Glenn was seen attending a Hollywood party with some of the 80’s top stars including Eddie Van Halen, Brook Sheilds, Mr. T and Boy George! I can pretty much guarantee you that that probably never happened!
Yet, after a while it seemed that the Glenn Scarpelli strip was sort of like beating a dead horse. Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood was appearing in Archie Comics as late as 1985, despite the fact that One Day at a Time had ended in 1983. After One Day at a Time Glenn was hired as a regular cast member, but yet again not the star, in the promising NBC sit-com Jennifer Slept Here with Ann Jillian, but the series lasted only a mere thirteen episodes. By 1985 Glenn was reduced to appearing in Love Boat episodes, and was featured in an episode of Amazing Stories and MacGyver. However, Glenn really never found any success further then One Day at a Time. As his acting career dwindled, Archie Comics finally put the hammer down on the comic feature and Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood was discontinued with only a mere whimper. Readers, if they had even noticed the comic had existed, didn’t notice it dissapear at all and most of them probably had no idea who Glenn Scarpelli was anyways.
Henry Scarpelli continued to work at Archie Comics, eventually taking over the daily newspaper strip until his death in 2010. Glenn, meanwhile, left acting altogether and became a SEO of Arizona based television network Sedona Now Network.
Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood remains to be an obscure tid-bit of Archie history which has been overlooked by comic historians because, quite honestly, nobody probably really cares. It is no wonder that Archie Comics doesn’t seem at all interested in bringing the strip back to the forefront and, with Glenn having long moved on from acting, music and comics altogether, we probably wont be seeing him in any Archie Comics during the company’s year long 70th Anniversary. Personally, I wont lose any sleep knowing that Glenn wont be hanging out with Archie and Jughead and crushing over Kevin keller, but I must admit that if he does I’ll probably have a pop culture freak out of the highest level if it does happen. C’mon Archie. Give Glenn Scarpelli his due. Bring him back at least once, in one panel. Give the guy a mention. Glenn Scarpelli in Hollywood may be a part of Archie history best left swept under the carpet of the vast comic archive and warehouse, but it will continue to come back and haunt comic collectors in the musty yellow pages of old 80’s Archie comics for decades to come. Glenn Scarpelli’s gift to the pop culture journey is to have generations of comic fans go “WTF” for decades to come.