Sunday, May 07, 2006

Everything's Archie

I understand the multiverse. I understand hypertime. I understand dog behaviors, ancient Greek poetry, subatomic theory, Jungian archtypes, Silver Age science, and the popularity of Tony Danza. Such is the power of my mind that, with a bit of application, little is beyond its understanding.

Riverdale, however, is far, far beyond my comprehension.

My free comic on Free Comic Book Day, you see, was the Archie 65th Anniversary Bash. Light. Fun. Cheery. Or so I thought ... !

But first -- kudos is deserved by the publishers of Archie Comics, who (unlike all the other companies, I believe) actually created a comic specifically for the event with the sole purpose of introducing to firsttime readers the essential characters and elements of their line. If all companies did that, FCBD could be more focused on introducing comics to new readers rather than giving free comics to old ones.

So what if it looks like it was written and drawn in a day? They still did it. The Archie Comics group doesn't rely on the fact that its stuff has been around for 65 years; it knows there's always a new child who's not yet read an Archie book, and aimed its offering at them. No wonder the Archieverse remains strong.

Strong, but mind-boggling. Take for example, the Mysterious Box of Nothingness:

Some sort of indicia box whitened out to prevent resale? That's what they'd like you to think...!

Or does Archie's excitement over his bash have a corporal manifestation so prodigious and pronounced that an enormous bowlderizing box is required to obscure it? It would certainly explain the fervency of Betty and Veronica's dedication.

Or is it a visually symbolic commentary on the emptiness at the heart of the Archieverse? "Archie is hollow," the box says, "composed only of literary boundaries of plot that contain no meaning, no continuity, no core."

This interpretation is certainly reinforced by the impossibly achronal appearance of Li'l Archie beside his teen counterpart: "Archie is beyond time and space. Archie is the empty centerpoint of a null zone where all normal reference systems are negated." Spooky, huh? I think Archie's in league with Supergirl.

Only the Null Box allowed me to perceive the meaning of the panel below. I read it several times with a vague feeling of disorienting unease, but after several hours of zen-like contemplation of the anti-space circumscribed by the Null Box I finally noticed what was bothering me...The Bobbsey Twins. The Bobbsey Twins were created in 1904 and their books were published with diminishing popularity up through, say, the 1970s. That was 30 years ago-- in OUR universe. What kind of highschooler today would naturally refer to the Bobbsey Twins? Why is this fella, Beaucoup Hairgel or some such, talking about the Bobbsey Twins as if anyone is going to understand?

Because the Archieverse, the Null Box says to us, is not bound by time and space, only by its own plot devices and narrative needs. Like Shazam's Rock of Eternity, the Archieverse is equidistant from all points of space/time; the Archieverse is the home of God/Archie; everything really IS Archie. Shudder.

Remember Josie & The Pussycats? Long tails, and sharps and flats? Yeah, I thought I did, too, with their cute little pussycat costumes. Until I realized....
The---the tails. The ears. Oh, ye gods of Olympus, they're REAL.

Aahh! The Pussycats aren't wearing costumes, they're some sort of nightmarish hybridized catwomen, like the illicit offspring of Mary Marvel and Tawky Tawny! And ... no one seems to notice. It's incomprehensible...!

And it gets worse.

Okay, there's apparently a band called "The Veronicas". Kind of weird, but no weirder than there being a band called the "Archies", I guess. But, wait, wait ... the "Veronicas" ...

are real.

I -- I don't understand. I can't -- Are they real people comic-bookized to promote themselves? Are they a fictional group being portrayed by live actors? Are they ambitextuals? And, hey, how could the Archies have had a number one hit when they aren't real? My understanding of reality -- it breaks down when confronted with the Archieverse. The nature of God/Archie is beyond the scope of the human mind.

Thank goodness, here's a familiar face: Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Nice, safe, familiar Sabrina. But, what's she doing in this panel? Why, she's -- she's imagining her own forthcoming makeover as a Manga character.
She is actively metacommenting on her own transtextual conversion into manga; it's mind-boggling! And to her it's .... SIMPLE. NOoooo! Et tu, Sabrina?

Wait a minute. I think I get it now: The Archieverse is some sort of plot to break down the barriers between the real and the unreal, crippling the minds of our youth, possibly explaining the moral and psychological decay of society since Archie's arrival in popular culture.

Of course! The erosion of the fourth wall, the impossible dreamlike imagery, the intentional violation of the concepts of space/time and identity; the Archieverse is comics' most insidious nest of SURREALISM.

But who could be responsible for this deceptive madness, this threat to the sanity of society?

It's been obvious all along, staring us right in the face:


Someone call the Boy Wonder!

Archie and Dali attacking your sense of reality, personally.


Anonymous said...

Oh man, you should have seen the Archie FCBD from two years ago. A kid from the real world breaches the barrier of reality to meet Archie and becomes a member of his supporting cast but not before causing Jughead to become a boat captain or something. Mind-boggling is what it is.

Scipio said...

A kid from the real world breaches the barrier of reality to meet Archie and becomes a member of his supporting cast

Whoa! HIGHLY disturbing...

Anonymous said...

Some sort of indicia box whitened out to prevent resale?

... we just put our store stamp there.
Less a foul plot that one and more a 'personalization', I'd say.

Chris Fung said...

Ah I've always liked Archie. A family friend of mine had literally a hundred Little Archies and I used to read them everytime i'd visit. I dont't know if she still has them (probably not) but those were good memories.

Oh and that Salvador Dali joke is great but don't you think he looks a bit like Harold Peary, a huge star of Old Time Radio as the Great Gildersleeve?

Anonymous said...

Wooo, a handsome young redhead with a prodigious corporeal manifestation?

Back off Betty and Veronica, the jailbait's mine!

Steve said...

Archie was my least favorite of this year's free books.

At least until I read this post!

Scotus said... Infinite Crisis, Superboy-Prime was seeking his perfect world, a place with no moral ambiguities and idealized heroes.

And now we have a red-haired young man, aware of his metatexual circumstances and rejoicing in the fact that he lives in a world where teenagers make Bobsey Twin references, wholesome girl rock bands walk down the street without pretention, and it's possible to be in a teenage love triangle for 65 years, without hurt feelings or premarital sex.

It's obvious: Archie is really Jimmy Olsen-Prime.

Anonymous said...

Riverdale, where every age is the Silver Age

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Scipio, bravo.

Anonymous said...

Everything I learned about girls,dating,high school,coolness,cars,gym class,wiccans,aliens,and talking dogs,I learned from the Archie Comic Group.....seriously...

Anonymous said...


Ragnell said...

I appreciate the warning, I got this one myself and was expecting light and sweet.

I'm still going in.

If my brain should melt, please return my body to the safe confines of DC Reality, where time and space make sense.

Anonymous said...

What IS the appeal of Tony Danza, o wise one?

Anonymous said...

The Bobbsey Twins are very popular in the public library where I work, although I do serve a very conservative neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

That bit where Sabrina is thinking about the manga version of herself ACTUALLY BLEW MY MIND! Thanks for that.

Scipio said...

"What IS the appeal of Tony Danza, o wise one?"

Crunchy masculine outside, sweet feminine inside.

Attractive but has a sense of humor about himself.

Not smarter than you, but always interested in whatever smart things you want to talk about.

Scipio said...

"That bit where Sabrina is thinking about the manga version of herself ACTUALLY BLEW MY MIND! "

You should see the ad for Manga Sabrina, where Salem looks exactly like Hello Kitty.

Salem, of all cats, should NOT look like Hello Kitty... .

Scipio said...


Good lordie, Jacob, that is terrifyingly surreal!

Who knew Steve Geppi was a minion of Dali?!

naladahc said...

Now I think they last Archive comic I picked up was probably around 1979 or so when I was nine.

I'm still kind of shocked at the staying power of this line.

But I gotta ask...

Who are the audience for Archive comics?

With the shift from newstand 20 years ago and the general shift from this kind of light-hearted stuff, who is this material targeted to?

Scipio said...

Kids. Specifically, kids daydreaming about becoming teenagers.

Same people it always was.

In fact, the kid audience is one of the reasons for the Fourth Wall Violations.

Kids have a greater tolerance for that sort of thing. It doesn't spoil "the integrity" of what their reading, it just feels like it includes them. When superhero comis were written for kids, you had that sort of stuff happen, too, such as Wildcat being inspired by Green Lantern comics, Barry Allen collecting Flash comics, Superman winking at the reader, etc.

Anonymous said...

Note that I read 'em in the early nineties, before getting bored with it and moving on to superhero comics. (Yes, early-nineties superhero comics. Sigh.) So I'm not surprised they still have a fanbase today.

naladahc said...

Are they sold anywhere outside of comic stores?

Sadly, I've seen one kid (about 10 or so) in the past year buying comics. Hell. The kid wanted the Justice League Unlimited stuff and unfortunately the guy working there was handing him Classified and stuff.

I'm glad that stuff like Archie is still being produced.

I'm just trying to understand the economics for this kind of line in 2006.

Anonymous said...

My grocery store still sells Archie comics. In fact, they still sell the little digests at the checkout right up by the Soap Opera Digests and the TV Guides. The "impulse buy zone" where little kids can point and whine and mom or dad is just too tired of telling them No for the 4,736,523rd time, so they give in and buy them an Archie digest - a good scam (and admittedly probably better than buying them a candy bar).

In fact, I probably see Archie comics more places than any other magazine-format comic book. They're all over the place - I wonder how they do in their newsstand sales.

Gwen said...

This has nothing to do with Archie - I just wanted to say I love superhero radio and I think I can offer a superhero song to add. Superman's Ghost by Don McLean

Anonymous said...

I now understand Josie and the Pussycats. Mary Marvel and Tawky Tawny! It explains everything! What number Earth is this?

Marc Burkhardt said...

I was sorry we didn't see Pureheart the Powerful as well.

My son and wife love to read Archie, so I would guess the secret to his longevity (65 years!) is that it is truly the all-ages comic the Big Two are unable to produce.

Plus, the Archieverse is the best of all possible comic universes. No logic, no continuity, just fun!

Scott said...

Why be bothered by the presence of the real-world Veronicas in Archie, which after all is usually (barring Sabrina or Captain Pureheart) a non-genre world, when the Outsiders had John Walsh as a special guest-star, and DC used to have all kinds of Bing Crosby and Jerry Lewis licensed comics - that *did* sort of cross over with the DCU!

See, it's not just Marvel that does this sort of thing.

JP said...

Pops is Dali? Wowser.

You know what else is surreal? Art historian Michael Bell's contention that "It remains a dire need, if truth be still an honorable cause, to set forth an option upon the records of time by which considerate humanity might judge for itself the merits and the players in one of our century's most vilified and degraded forms of expression." He was talking about surrealism, but could as well as have been explaining the need for comics bloggers. It's all coming together in my head now.

Unknown said...

archie comics, above all else, were funny, funnier than all else, save carl barks's scrooge mcduck series.

i still laugh at time in the newspaper strip of archie, when archie asked jughead what happens when you don't pay your excorcist?

of course, jughead replied "you get repossessed."

Carl said...

I prefer "Cherry Poptart", myself.

Carl said...

Link: Cherry Poptart

AutismNewsBeat said...

There are no cameltoes in the Archieverse. How sad.

Anonymous said...

I think The Veronicas were a successful teen pop act from Australia who were sued by the Archie Group for trademark violation. The settlement of this suit now effectively makes them official spokesmodels for Archie comics, to everyone's benefit.

Andrew Ironwood said...

the illicit offspring of Mary Marvel and Tawky Tawny