|Archie Comics character|
|First appearance||Archie's Pal Jughead #84 (May 1962)|
|Portrayed by||Cindy Ambuehl |
(Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again)
|Voiced by||Jane Webb |
(The New Archies)
(Archie's Weird Mysteries)
|School||Riverdale High School (Archie Comics)|
Ethel Muggs is a character frequently featured in Archie Comics. She is a student of Riverdale High School, sometimes known to her schoolmates by the nickname Big Ethel, though this nickname has largely fallen out of use since the 1980s.
She was first drawn by cartoonist Samm Schwartz, probably modeled after a prototype designed by Bill Vigoda for a 1948 Archie Comics story. She has been voiced by Jane Webb, Jazzmin Lausanne, and Michele Phillips. Cindy Ambuehl played Ethel in the television film, Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again, and Shannon Purser portrays the character in a recurring capacity on The CW's Riverdale.
History and character
Ethel Muggs (originally Ethel Dinklehof) was portrayed in the early era as a tall, skinny, homely, somewhat boy-crazy individual that had a huge infatuation with Jughead Jones. This was explained in her first appearance in Archie's Pal, Jughead #84 as the result of Dilton Doiley's "Electronic Mate Selector" selecting Jughead as "the perfect mate" for her. She usually resorted to devious means to get Jughead in her clutches, and would typically end up running after him. Ethel has also pursued Jughead by appealing to his appetite; the Betty and Veronica comic title often featured real recipes that Ethel used to make her way to Jughead's heart through his stomach. Earlier issues featuring Big Ethel show her bearing a strong resemblance to Jughead, also, with her prominent nose, dark hair, and angular build. In the late 1980s, Ethel was occasionally drawn with braces on her buck teeth.
Although Ethel is usually portrayed as gangly, plain, and with no figure, one story involving a makeover by Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge in an attempt to attract Jughead's attention revealed her to be quite curvy and pretty (albeit still with buck teeth). Despite her new look, Jughead was as uninterested as ever.
In the later era, she has been portrayed as an average, somewhat likeable individual, whose infatuation for Jughead has lessened quite a bit. She now has other interests that keep her mind from Jughead, including Dilton and Archie Andrews, to keep her company. This actually tends to make Jughead a bit jealous. She and Dilton share mutual sympathy due to their few successes with romantic relationships, which is one of the reasons that they occasionally date. She has even been on one memorable date with Archie in one story. That date showed another side of Ethel, where she was funny, smart and attractive. The same story also introduces Hank, a friend of Ethel's who works at a local club Archie and Ethel visit on their date. It is later revealed that Hank was originally a pen pal of Ethel's, and she sent him a picture of Veronica instead of herself because of her low self-esteem. When Hank met Veronica standing in as Ethel, he dumped her because of her vanity. He soon ran into the real Ethel, and told her she was the most exciting girl he has ever met, and that Veronica could not hold a candle to her. When she questions his sincerity, he replies that he does mean it, and she is even more beautiful than Veronica.
Although Jughead drives Ethel away when her affections are too obvious, he can often stand being around her when she keeps her calm. In a storyline that ran in Jughead in the early 1990s, Ethel told Jughead she is tired of chasing him, and begins a romantic relationship with Jeffrey, a blind boy. During this time, Jughead also had a semi-romantic relationship with Anita, a paraplegic African-American teen. Both Jughead and Ethel displayed jealousy at the others' relationship, but the storyline was eventually dropped.
Various stories depict Ethel as a fan of science fiction, art, and trains. She also has a talent for making doll-house furniture, and often works as a babysitter. She is also a fine cook, which is one of the reasons Jughead occasionally submits to being around her. She is fond of dogs, and sometimes uses her attractive female poodle, Clementine, as bait to lure Jughead and Hot Dog.
Afterlife with Archie
In the second issue of the 2013 Archie Horror series Afterlife with Archie, Ethel attends the Halloween dance dressed as Snow White and after an attempted flirtation, a zombified Jughead bites and infects her. When the reanimated Ethel goes after Betty, Veronica blasts and hits the zombie with a fire extinguisher. When she doesn’t stay down, the kids realize that a zombie apocalypse is upon them.
Archie's R/C Racers
In the Archie's R/C Racers series (which takes place outside the regular Archie continuity), Ethel was a member of Archie's team who was traveling across the United States racing radio-controlled cars. She was given her own subplot in the series when she chose to leave Archie's team and join Babette and her henchmen, one of whom had a crush on Ethel and whose feelings were returned. They promised to help Ethel's aspiring country music career. Gradually, she became a starlet, known as "Ethel Sue".
Ethel eventually learned the truth about the trio when Babette convinced her to pose for some publicity photos. Standing in front of a large metal target, Ethel suddenly became strapped to the target and Babette prepared to shoot her with a ray gun, which Ethel believed was a camera. Babette explained that the ray gun was a device that can give the recipient mental powers and she planned on using it on herself after testing it on Ethel. Before she could be zapped, Archie's team saved her. Babette instead zapped a tour guide, who became a villain in the series. Ethel left Babette and returned to Archie's team.
Life with Archie: The Married Life
Ethel Muggs appears in Life with Archie: The Married Life.
An early unnamed prototype for the Big Ethel character drawn by Bill Vigoda appeared in Archie Comics #30 (1948). In the story "Patch as Catch Can", Riverdale had a "patch hop"; the girl who could sew her patch on a boy's clothes is his date for the dance. Archie was trying to avoid Betty. While running from her, he found a boy on a tandem, and jumps aboard. He soon realized the boy was actually a very unattractive girl, whom Archie referred to as a "Zombie". Except for her freckles she looks exactly like Ethel with black hair in pigtails, a buck toothed smile, and a tall skinny figure. Archie jumped off the bike, and continued to dodge Betty throughout the story. In the end, he ended up strung from rope tied to a flagpole, and the "Zombie" returned and sewed a patch on Archie's underwear. The story ended with Archie lying on the railroad tracks, saying "It's no use, Jug. This is a much easier way out."
There was also a later character similar to Ethel named Ophelia Glutenschnable. Ophelia was also tall, skinny and dark, but her hair was styled differently , her nose was much bigger, and she usually had no buck teeth. She relentlessly pursued Jughead and all the other boys. In contrast to later stories, Jughead willingly went on dates with Ophelia. In one gag, Archie asks Jughead why he asked Ophelia to the dance, and Jughead replies that she was different: "She's the only one who'll go with me!" Eventually, Ophelia was replaced by Big Ethel.
A separate character named "Big Ethel" appeared in Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #95 (November 1963). This version of Ethel is an obese, disheveled red-haired girl that chased Jughead. Betty and Veronica gave her a makeover (secured by a waist-slimming girdle) that turned her into a voluptuous beauty; however, her makeover was undone after a sneeze caused the girdle to break and her hair and clothing to become a mess. In later reprint stores, the character is renamed "Esmeralda".
Ethel has never had her own series, but has been a supporting character mainly in the various Jughead series, as well as some of the Betty series, as she has a close friendship with Betty Cooper. She also has solo stories in the various Archie anthology titles. In 1982, she co-starred in the Spire Christian Comics title Archie and Big Ethel.
In other media
- Ethel made her television debut in the early Filmation Archie cartoons, most notably in the "How to Catch a Man" segments on Archie's Funhouse, where she is voiced by Jane Webb. Webb went on to voice the character, among several others, in numerous Archie-based television projects from 1968-1977.
- Ethel appears in The New Archies, voiced by Jazzmin Lausanne.
- Ethel appears in Archie's Weird Mysteries voiced by Michele Phillips.
- Ethel appears in the 1990 television film, Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again, where she is portrayed as an adult by Cindy Ambuehl. Ethel is now a gorgeous fashion model, having been a late bloomer, and still has a crush on Jughead Jones. By the end of the movie, Jughead and his son decide to stay in Riverdale so that he can pursue a relationship with Ethel.
- Ethel is portrayed by Shannon Purser in The CW television series Riverdale, which debuted in 2017. In the series, Ethel is not shown to be obsessed with Jughead and is actually good friends with his girlfriend, Betty Cooper, and later Veronica Lodge after their shared experiences with harassment by Chuck Clayton.
- "Grand Comics Database".
- Who's Who in Riverdale Archived 5 July 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Archie's Riverdale High #8
- Archie & Friends # 12
- Jughead #29-38
- "Afterlife with Archie" Issue #2, November 2013.
- "ARCHIE'S R/C RACERS (1989) #6 - Large Image". Mile High Comics. Retrieved 2010-12-26.[dead link]
- Ask the Archivist - Jughead and Girls Archived 9 February 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #95
- "''Archie and Big Ethel''". Milehighcomics.com. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
- "Big Ethel at Archie's Funhouse". Web.archive.org. 2009-10-26. Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
- Stack, Tim (August 30, 2016). "Barb from Stranger Things to join Archie reboot Riverdale". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 30, 2016.