On History: The Origin of Jughead's Hat

By | Tuesday, March 28, 2017 Leave a Comment
No, this is not another one of those "what kind of hat does Jughead wear anyway" posts. It seems like everybody's done one of those at one time or another. Yes, it was originally a fedora turned inside out and the brim chopped up, which was a thing back in the first half of the 20th century. You know all that, right? This was even explained in Jughead and Friends Digest #25 from 2008.

No, what I'm talking about is where Jughead got his actual hat from and why it makes sense that he should still wear it in 2017.

The origin goes back to Archie’s Pal Jughead #8 circa 1951. Like many children of 1930s (Jughead debuted as a teenager in 1941, meaning he originally would've been a child throughout much of the prior decade) he wore a button beany as was the fashion. But in the 1951 story, he's convinced that he should grow up and starts sporting an unmolested fedora.

It's at that point that his friend Archie starts casually playing with a loaded gun, which he accidentally fires at Jughead! The bullet nearly hits Jughead, going through the brim of his new hat. At which point, Jughead declares that the incident "scared me out of five years' growth" and made him a kid again. He promptly starts cutting away the fedora's now-bullet-holed brim to make himself another felt crown.

Various stories over the years have shown Jughead's hat to be a source of luck/power. It's become something of a totem in many respects. But what I find striking is that the notion dates back to 1951, and provides a legitimate rationale for why Jughead might have come to see it as such. Given that context, it make sense that he'd want to hang on to the item that (sort of) saved his life.

But the brilliant part, the really brilliant part, of that origin story is that it's completely contemporary even a half century later! Gun violence is still totally a thing, and most gunshot wounds are from accidents exactly like this! They've updated the characters in both the comics and the television show, but this piece still fits in completely seamlessly! Geez, think of that story in the context of Riverdale -- the emotional angst Jughead could go through in reconciling things with Archie could last weeks, or even months, as a subplot! The folks behind the show want to make things edgier? Do this story, and you've got a poignant, edgy story that also serves up some really old school fan service! How can you lose with that?

See, this is why knowing your comics history can benefit your "all new" "modern" take on things!
Newer Post Older Post Home