I participated in a Yankee Swap recently. Even I was the last to pick a gift, I had my eye on one special item of interest:
This collection of Archies comics got traded twice. The first time, it very nearly left my grasp, because the party guest in question had to leave and take another guest to the train station. But fate intervened and someone swapped it before it left the house.
The Archies have been a part of my life in one form or the other since I was a little kid. Whether it was the band singing Sugar, Sugar, or the animated series that aired in the ’90’s, or Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or the issues of Archie and Betty and Veronica Digests, or the individual issues of the comic series that had been hijacked by some religious right wing group, the Archies were constant.
So I could not live with myself if I had left that party without this book in my hands. And the best part was, I wound up a little bit closer to a member of the Writer’s Group that I had worried about upsetting on a previous meeting, as he was the one who brought the gift.
I’m taking the book in doses right now. But I think this is the earliest incarnation of Archie comics that I have read and it just goes to prove that time is an immutable barrier. You take away the cellphones and the Internet of the modern era and you read these comics that were set in the 40’s and 50’s, and there’s nothing in here that a teenager wouldn’t find relevant nowadays. Although maybe, like me, they’ll see these characters and feel like they could actually belong with this group of people.
It was also surprising to me that Bob Montana, who was in charge of the creating the Archies strips at this time, had lived very close by, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. I’m consistently surprised to find how many artists that have touched my life in one way or the other, weren’t all that far from me, at least geographically. Maybe I didn’t have the same life experiences that Montana drew on to create his strip, but I feel as I hope many do that he was telling his story to my generation just as as much as he was telling it to his own.