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Book in the works about "Archie" creator's local ties

Carol Lee Anderson is working on a book about “Archie” creator Bob Montana. (Erin Plummer) (click for larger version)
October 24, 2012
MEREDITH — "Archie" Comics creator Bob Montana and his support of the Lakes Region will be the subject of an upcoming book.

Carol Lee Anderson is in the process of writing a book on the life and community support of Montana, who lived in Meredith. Many of the "Archie" strips included references to local people, places, and events throughout the comic strip.

She talked about the upcoming book on Montana during a talk at the Belknap Mill in Laconia on Wednesday.

Anderson recently rote a book on the history of Gunstock called "The History of Gunstock: Skiing in the Belknap Mountains." She bought a book of "Archie" comics for her son Dean, and found a comic that made reference to the fictional Gilford Ski Area, with subsequent descriptions pointing to a reference to Gunstock. Anderson said she became more curious to see if Montana made reference to any other local people and places in the comics.

Anderson got in contact with Montana's daughter, Lynn Montana, who she said has great interest in keeping the memory of her father alive. Anderson said she decided to write a book about Lynn's father. She said Lynn shared many stories about her father and her family.

Montana lived on Meredith Neck, and wrote the first "Archie" comic strip in a cabin on Lake Waukewan.

Montana was heavily involved in the community; his support included the Meredith Village Players, as well as the Belknap Mill. He was also actively involved in Meredith's bicentennial celebration in 1968. He asked some of his other fellow cartoonists such as Charles M. Schultz to donate cartoons to be auctioned off at the celebration.

"He was very down to earth," Anderson said. "His success never changed him. He was Bob Montana."

Montana's caring reached farther than the local community.

"When they called him up and asked him to entertain the troops in the hospitals, he just went," Anderson explained.

He would help promote a local business or a community project through a reference in the comic.

"He did everything he could to be part of this community," Anderson said.

Anderson also went to the Meredith Public Library and looked through the strips in old issues of The Meredith News, looking for local references.

Anderson said she found so many other references to local people, places, businesses, and events in the strip. He would help get the word out about a local cause through a reference in his comic.

"It meant something to people here," Anderson said. "He could make something funny for everyone."

In her search, she found an ad called "Earl Sez" with a drawing bearing Montana's signature. After doing some more research, Anderson learned that Earl was a regular at the Sandwich Fair known for giving pony rides to kids and entering ponies and turtles. Anderson discovered the Archie strip that ran the same time as The Sandwich Fair always included turtles.

"He always stuck things in that were going on in his life," Anderson said.

Montana was also a fan of movie making. He produced a film on the history of Meredith around the bicentennial as well as "A Close Shave" and "The Deed." DVD copies of the bicentennial film and "A Close Shave" are available at the Meredith Public Library. Anderson said Montana's son is working on getting "The Deed" onto DVD.

Anderson is still working on the book. She will turn in the final manuscript in August of 2013. The book will likely be out next fall.

Martin Lord Osman
Town of Brookfield
Town of Brookfield
Varney Smith
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