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Fast times at Riverdale High

Archie, 7/3/06

I have a deep, dark confession to make: when I was a kid, I was really obsessed with Archie comics. There’s something about them that makes the teenage lifestyle seem especially fun and glamorous to a 9-to-11-year-old. You think that high school’s going to be about dating and friends and wacky contests, rather than humiliation and social exclusion. I’ve always been afraid to revisit Archie since for fear of being horrified at my own terrible tweenage taste. Still, it took this brilliant article at the Onion AV Club to make it clear to me that not only does Archie completely fail to capture anything resembling authentic teenage experience, but it’s actually written by adults who harbor active contempt for young people.

Anyway, I recently started reading the Archie newspaper strip, since it’s available at the Houston Chronicle Web site. I’d like to believe that I’d have recognized at least this iteration of the Archie mythos as deeply lame even when I was 10, but I have my doubts. I offer today’s installment for examination only because it illustrates the casualness with which the strip discards the characters’ long-established, deeply-held values. Specifically: Jughead has a job? For which he takes off his hat? What the hell?

Apartment 3-G, 7/3/06

Um, she hooked up with some guy who wasn’t her husband? C’mon, Tommie, keep up.

Incidentally, I think that as a nurse, Tommie has a moral obligation to set a good health example for the America’s young comic-reading public. In particular, she shouldn’t take long, soul-searching walks in the pouring rain without a hat. I’ve experienced some hard times and heartbreak in my life, and never once when I was at a low state did I say, “Hey, you know what would make me feel better? Going outside for hours and getting cold and soaking wet! Yeah!” Call me an old stick in the mud, but I’m quite capable of moping inside with a cup of hot chocolate.

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