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Draw comics? Hell, I'm happy just reading them. But here at TMC, we dig beneath the kiddie art and superheroes to the meat of the issue: what's with comics, anyway? What makes this modern American artform tick? What makes a good comic? And why do so many fail spectacularly? What's the real difference between Metropolis and Gotham? So, crack open your archival bags and dust off your acid-free boards for some 4-color glory at Too Many Colors Comix Reviews.

Everything's Archie No. 16

when relevance hits riverdale

by Erik Swedlund

The 1960s were times of great upheaval across America. All across America, that is, except for Riverdale. Throughout its sixty-plus years of incorporation, almost nothing has changed in this town. Its citizens never age. Their social interactions never change. Their clothing has barely varied. And throughout the 1960s, none of the characters in the Archie series ever mentioned Viet Nam.

In 1968, Richard Nixon was elected president, promising he had a secret plan to end the war. Four years later, he began implementing this secret plan on the eve of the 1972 elections, bringing him one of the most lopsided landslide victories ever.

In October 1971, approximately seventeen years after the beginning of U.S. involvement in Viet Nam and one year before Nixon hatched his secret plan, the war finally came to Riverdale. None of the characters in the Archie series are of draft age, being either 17 or indefinably "old," but the fine folks at Archie Music Corp. offered up Everything's Archie No. 16 with this proviso:

Readers--Remember this!
The Archies are still a year away from being drafted; but this is the way it would have happened, this is not really the end, but a means to an end!
The End

Don't forget to go to your local record store to look for Archie albums!

Notwithstanding the horrific grammar, this passage still does not make any sense. So it goes in the Archie world, where Archie has two dates on the same night--every night. Still, the writers behind the scenes must have been yearning to write a relevant story. The editors must have been hoping to create a meaningful comic. The publishers must have been dying for a piece of the hip youth movement (yet still put a parent-friendly, morally-responsible product that bears the seal of the Comics Code Authority). The result of their collective wishes: this train-wreck of a comic, pure drivel and stilted dialogue and a mish-mash of half-formed bad ideas.

The key to decades of Archie's success is the exact opposite of the relevance this issue hopes for: an irrelevant, vanilla-flavored world in which the same corny gags never fail. Veronica is always snooty. Betty is always nice. The only feature that distinguishes them is their different hair colors. Jughead is always hungry. These are the ideals on which Riverdale was raised; tamper with them at your own risk.


The result of their collective wishes: this train-wreck of a comic, pure drivel and stilted dialogue and a mish-mash of half-formed bad ideas.
The Archies should not be discussing politics. They are bland. This is exactly what makes them so palatable. Their lack of distinguishing features is a survival trait, designed to not off-put their audience. If they must be current, let them be gung-ho about the space shuttle. Let them ooh and ahh over Dilton's latest video game. But for crying out loud, don't get them tangled in politics.

As a literary theory grad-school drop-out, you realize that everything is political. Every object has a cultural significance. Every word has a complicated linguistic origin and should not be used in certain circumstances. Clothing makes the man/woman/person. Media is colonization.

Except the Archies. The Archies are not politcal.

Witness, then, selected panels from this ill-fated issue, showing exactly why Riverdale should never try to be relevant.




They tried so hard. But they couldn't even make sense.

2001 | Back to Too Many Colors