Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Comic (Re)discovery: 'Fast Willie Jackson'
I'm happy to report that every member of my household now "reads" (quote marks are for our 4-year-old) at least one comic book a month. But reading Betty & Veronica comics to C. left me with a nagging question: Why, after all these years, do Chuck and Nancy appear to be the only black kids at Riverdale High School? (Valerie of Josie & the Pussycats doesn't count, because she is a resident of neighboring Midvale. I'm just saying.)
While I don't remember much about the shenanigans of Willie and his friends, I recall quickly losing interest — maybe because no one in my family used phrases like "Can you dig it?" or dressed like a pimp. I must have sensed that it was knockoff, one certainly not approved by Fawcett Publications. (Then again, I read Spire's Christian-themed Archie books, so I had a pretty high tolerance for sketchy comics concepts.)
Given the iron grip of the Archie brand at that time and "Fast Willie's" apparent over-emphasis on jive-talking, it's not surprising that it only lasted for a few issues. In any case, it did bring some diversity to a monochromatic corner of the comics world. It also serves as a reminder of how much can change in 30 years. Despite Chuck and Nancy's token status, I doubt Archie Comics would have them speaking in outdated slang or turning Dilton on to the new Jeezy CD.
Read a more authoritative analysis of Willie & Co. here.