Monday, August 24, 2009

She's Out Of My Life

I see that Archie #600 still, for some reason, bears the tiny, archaic seal of approval from the Comics Code Authority, a throwback to the comic-burning days of the 40's and 50's, when dubious psychology studies intimated the correlation between fanboys and juvenile delinquents. I wonder, who are the moms out there who are simultaneously cool and lame enough to know this bit of history, yet use their knowledge of it to dictate their comic-book purchases? But, as always, the CCA is useless here; guess what I don't approve of, and feel like burning?

Yes, several months ago, when I first caught wind of this, I kept my mouth shut; I didn't want to be the harbinger of bad news. But it's all over the radio now: in Archie #600, Veronica is chosen over Betty. (The above panel isn't from that issue, but from an old Betty comic in my personal collection. I thought it properly exemplified her justified disgust with the eternal love triangle.) Do you really want to read my indulgent little tirade about this? If you do, there's plenty more under the cut.

Before setting foot in kindergarten, a time period I would go back to any day if given the chance, I started accompanying my dad on regular trips to the Mount Holly Comics Museum (now Comics World, under new management). In those days, Barbie and Wendy the Witch were the gender-appropriate selections purchased for me, and I had no complaints. Barbie might have come out a little after kindergarten, actually. Fuzzy memories.

But then I was seven years old, in Mrs. Barnes' 2nd grade classroom, asocial even then, and, for some reason, kneeling on the floor before a stack of dog-eared Archies -- selected for classroom use, I presume, by our teacher. Maybe it was D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) time, or perhaps this shelf-o-fun was some kind of reward for good work or citizenship. In any case, it was my first exposure to Archie comics, a title I knew of but had never read or been encouraged to read until this time.

My life would change. In a movie of my life, the T.I. song Dead and Gone would be an appropriate track to play during, or immediately after the scene I described in the preceding paragraph. This, as well as Veronica, Betty and Veronica, Betty, and Jughead, was the title I would request from my dad on future trips to the Comic Museum, and, in time, as this store morphed into Comics Plus and then Comics World, would purchase myself and continue to purchase almost 20 years later. To earn money, I would collect dimes from cleaning out the gutters, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and clearing wheelbarrows full of twigs and debris from the lawn in preparation for mowing. With the changing economy, these dimes would become quarters. Someday, I would get a real job.

From the beginning, I copied the drawings of the characters -- I thought Betty and Veronica were primo examples of feminine beauty. I related to Jughead in a way that I have related to no other character in comics or any medium -- the first openly asexual character in literature, was he? My plastic young mind absorbed the lame puns and rhyming story titles which, perhaps more so than the draftsmanship, continue to influence basically everything I create.

In those pre-Internet times that I desperately hope I will return to after waking up from this dystopian, lonely, artificial nightmare, I developed an interest in the history of comics, knowing somehow that Archie was an old title. Rather than do a Google image search or browse Wikipedia, luxuries unavailable in those prehistoric times, I purchased older issues when I found them, and, more commonly, digests with reprints of old stories. As I read, I carefully noted the changes in styles (art styles, clothing styles, etc.), slang, and advertising. I checked out library books on cartoon history. Archie #1 was always the first issue I looked up whenever the new Overstreet guide came out. It increased in value about $1,000 a year. Probably more now. At a vintage comic book store on the Boardwalk one time, in a glass case, I had the priviledge to cast my eyes upon a battered, original copy of Archie #20, the front cover torn almost completely away.

As we flash forward more into the present day, during a stay in Seattle a couple years ago, I had the rare opportunity to borrow, from a video rental place called Scarecrow, the made-for-tv-movie Archie: Return to Riverdale. In this live-action special, the characters were all grown up. Jughead was a psychiatrist...I have a psych degree, too! And Archie hadn't chosen between Betty and Veronica...or Cheryl Blossom. He had a different girl.

But I suppose that movie isn't the official continuation of Riverdale life, because Archie chose Veronica Lodge, nee Veronica Lake. These 18+ years, I thought I was reading a comedy series.
Instead, Archie's story, begun in Pep comics in the December of 1941, has been a long, epic tragedy all along. Was this always the plan?

No new artwork or creative suggestions today, folks.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I knew you would have something to say about this. I'd been hearing rumblings regarding Archie's choice for a while now.

    I think Betty and Veronica should've rejected Archie. Who needs a man?!

  3. Following in the pattern of Battered Woman Syndrome, masochistic Betty will turn to a domestically abusive relationship with Moose Miller after Midge, a witness to Moose's fatal bludgeoning of the well-intentioned Forsythe P. "Jughead" Jones (his hand accidentally brushed against Midge's as he was passing a handout to her in health class), goes into hiding. Reggie Mantle, losing Veronica for good, now has no reason to restrain his sociopathic tendencies. Holding Dilton Doily hostage, he tortures the nerd, extracting information about how to build pipe bombs and other explosives. All this is part of the plan for a Kill Bill-esque wedding massacre. Coming up in Archie #601.

  4., though I've never read the comic before, I always thought it was a nice little thing. Pipe bombs and bludgeonings, though...whew! :D I admit I wanted to read some of the strip when got a hold of the proposal issue and went wild with it. They predict he will change his mind and not go through with it, anyway. *shrugs* Sounds like a soap opera-esq piece I'd get sucked into and voraciously devour, lol, so I better not even get started. ;P

  5. The paragraph above your post, Becca, was just a work of my imagination. I don't think such a scenario would be approved by the Comics Code Authority; Archie Meets the Punisher is as violent a storyline as the Riverdale teens ever faced, or probably will ever face.

  6. Lol...I figured. My response was supposed to be an abortive attempt at sarcarsm. ;) I never was very good at it, haha.

  7. You know that Betty's gonna pull a "Graduate" on them and Archie will suddenly choose her or something.

    Actually, I think I'd prefer if he chose Cheryl over both of them--she's actually, y'know, *different* from some of the other character archetypes presented in the series.