Tom Moore, 'Archie' cartoonist for decades, dies at 86

Tom Moore, the "Archie" cartoonist who chronicled the escapades of a freckle-faced, red-haired boy and his teenage friends, has died in Texas. He was 86.

Moore, who began drawing cartoons while in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, died early Monday while in hospice care in his hometown of El Paso, his son Lito Bujanda-Moore said Tuesday. Moore had been diagnosed with throat cancer within the past week and chose not to undergo treatment, his son said.

Moore drew Archie Andrews and his friends on and off from 1953 until he retired in the late 1980s. Annual sales of the comic regularly surpassed half a million during the 1960s, according to the El Paso Times.

"I did one comic book a month," Moore told the newspaper in 1996. "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."

Born in 1928, Moore grew up in El Paso. After the war, Moore used funding available through the GI Bill to attend a school for cartoonists in New York. He studied under "Tarzan" comic strip illustrator Burne Hogarth.

Soon after, Moore signed up with Archie Comics in New York. Bob Montana created "Archie" in 1941, and Moore took over in 1953.

But by 1961, Moore couldn't ignore the urge to be closer to the mountains of far western Texas, according to his son. He and his family moved from New York's Long Island back to his native El Paso. He later took a break from comics and worked in public relations.

Bujanda-Moore said his father loved every aspect of nature: trees, rivers, mountains and deserts. One year the family cooked their Thanksgiving meal at home, then took all of it to the desert just east of El Paso.

"We would be able to have a great Thanksgiving dinner under the stars," he said.

Archie Comics' editor in chief, Victor Gorelick, who has worked at the company for more than 50 years, said Moore "was a cartoonist's cartoonist." He said Archie Comics invited Moore back to help revamp Archie's friend, Jughead, and he remained with the company until he retired.

"Tom was very funny and had a knack for putting together really great, hilarious gags and special pages when he worked at Archie," Gorelick said. Moore, he said, did some of his finer work in the relaunch of Archie Comics' "Jughead" title.

After retiring, Moore kept tabs on Archie — and disagreed when the comic book company decided to kill off the character.

The El Paso Museum of Art displayed some of Moore's work and his vast comic collection about 20 years ago.

"I have enjoyed what I've done and I am pleased that others liked it, too," Moore said at the time. "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?"

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