Thursday, January 15, 2009

New Thoughts About Old Comics

My mom has been bugging me to get my childhood crap out of her house, so I've slowly (very slowly) been bringing pieces of my old "Archie" comics collection to Tallahassee. My collection used to be huge, but ... well, it's a long story for another day.

Anyway, my daughter really likes these books, and in re-reading them, I'm struck by a few things:

1) Despite the fact that it's an old-fashioned classic, most "Archie" plotlines are all about raging hormones. Some of the bathing suits and plunging necklines Betty and Veronica wore in the '70s were downright risque. While wearing said getups, they're usually being trailed by a pack of (literally) panting males. Yet, we're supposed to believe that this teenage crew's "dates" are as innocent as malts at the Chok'lit Shoppe. Clearly, a lot went over my head when I was 8. The next time you're in the supermarket, flip through "Archie" comic and tell me Reggie and Veronica haven't totally done it.

2) Archie and Co. always seem to be ambling past someone's house, which is plausible until they wind up in front of Veronica's mansion. Veronica is supposed to be the richest girl in Riverdale, maybe the entire region. So how is it that the Lodge estate is right up the street from Jughead's place? There are some fine houses within a mile or two of my subdivision, but none of them qualify as a millionaire's retreat. Another thing: Given how much Mr. Lodge loathes Archie, why is he sending his daughter to the same public high school he attends?

3) While the stories in the main "Archie" books are standard (prom, love triangle, pool party), my old "Little Archie" digests are full of life-or-death scenarios. The following took place in just one of my old comics — and I've made nothing up:

  • Little Betty is abducted, bound and gagged, and left in an attic by some bank robbers hiding out near her summer camp. Little Veronica leads a search and rescue party.

  • Little Archie is in a terrifying car accident with Betty's older brother, Chick, behind the wheel.

  • Little Archie helps foil two burglars who attempt to steal one Mr. Lodge's priceless artifacts. (Shouldn't this act alone have earned Archie years of goodwill?)

  • Little Archie saves the life of a bongo-playing Martian who must drink ammonia to survive.

Now that I'm a parent, these scenarios are out of my worst nightmares — but I totally get why a kid would be dig them. Good times.


Christina said...

I swear that the ammonia-drinking alien story line sounds veeery familiar. I don't think I have any of my old Archie comic books any more. My parents used to buy them for me by the ton (that's how I ended up with some of those Christian versions) but I think when we left Germany we threw them all out. :-(

EDP said...

I'll totally scan/mail it to you. It's the weirdest thing, and I remember wondering whether the whole thing was just a trap for little Archie. There was also one where Archie was just such an asshole to little Betty, and he redeemed himself in the end by walking her home and letting her clip a lock of his hair. Yeah, that's a healthy message for girls.