Reading the Classics

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I was in the mood for some classical literature when I stumbled across a box of Archie comic books. Real, honest-to-goodness Archies, printed on actual paper and everything.

Some of you are thinking that I should take them to a comic book dealer and see what I can get for them. I thought of that, too, but these Archies are all recent—the oldest in the box was from 2007. Some of you are now surprised because you didn’t realize anyone was still publishing Archie comic books.

Yes, Archie Comics are still being produced. Man, are they being produced! Judging by the advertising in the comic books, they are publishing about 50 “different” Archie titles a month!

I had to put “different” in quotes because, while there are “new” Archie comic books coming out on an almost daily basis, they are remarkably “non-fresh”. I don’t say stale, but the Archie comics coming out today are remarkably like the Archie comic books you remember from your childhood.

Archie and his gang have been teenagers for 40-something years now, but they’re not really typical teenagers. Years ago, I realized that the Archies were written for pre-teens. Now, I realize that they are written for pre-teens by adults who would like their pre-teens to turn out like the Archies.

Now, what’s the first thing you think of when you think of the Archies? If you’re a woman, the first thing you think of is probably their music. But if you’re a guy, the first thing you think about is Betty and Veronica. Now, comic book aficionados (the male ones, anyway) may talk about the gravity-defying bodies of Storm or Wonder Woman (though, have you seen her lately? She’s built more like a man on steroids than a woman these days!), but the defining comic book women for most of us guys—whether we’ll admit it or not—will always be Betty and Veronica.

Why is that? Is it because they’re built impossibly well? Well, yes. But it’s also because a] they are both incredibly crazy about clumsy ol’ Archie—he of the funky red hair with the inexplicable tic-tac-toe pattern on the side of his head—giving all us mediocre guys hope that one day an incredibly beautiful girl like Veronica will notice us; and, 2] in spite of their incredibly tight clothing—short in the thigh and all—both girls (and Midge, the other girl we secretly loved but didn’t want to admit it because, well, if she were to come to life then so would her boyfriend Moose and he’d probably pound us into the turf) are remarkably and admirably chaste.

And this is what struck me most about the “new” Archie comic books. They text, they go to raves, they wear the most modern of clothing and they talk about current stars, but—in many ways—they still live in an innocent time. The guys’ worst worry is whether the Riverdale basketball team will be over the food poisoning from the cafeteria before Friday’s big game and the girls are fretting over which one of them Archie will dance with first. And, if the dance gets really out of hand and the hormones are raging, in Riverdale that means Betty might—MIGHT, mind you—kiss Archie on the cheek at the end of the evening.

Since coming across this box, I’ve discovered that Archie comics are for sale at the front counter of most of our big stores here in the panhandle. At first, I was wondering who was buying them. It’s probably parents buying them for kids, more than kids buying them for themselves. Or, just maybe, it’s parents buying them for themselves, wishing the adolescent and teen years their own kids are experiencing could be like those we once all dreamed of in Riverdale.