Watching the Indian film The Archies brought to mind the start of the school summer holidays and the last day of the final exams. My sister and I would make a beeline for the library where we’d pick up a stack of Archie Double Digests. The first two days were spent in Riverdale following the antics of the good-natured but clumsy teenage boy, Archie, his best friend Jughead, his two loves, Betty and Veronica, and his arch rival, Reggie. Of course, Archies would be incomplete if it did not involve at least one story of his shenanigans with Veronica’s father, the millionaire Mr Hiram Lodge, who shows very low tolerance for Archie’s clumsiness, especially around the former’s mansion filled with expensive artifacts.
We especially enjoyed Archie’s foolery with his toupeed school principal, Mr Weatherbee, whom the gang affectionately call “the Bee”. Interspersed among the pages were the funny shorts of Li’l Jinx, the mischievous yet lovable blonde girl featured with her friends and her father. Stories of Archie and his gang as children were inevitable and were looked forward to but when the comic book included stories about the teenage witch, Sabrina and her two aunts, it was a bonus!
While each of these characters were eventually established eponymously in their comics, the years following 2010 saw Archie Comics dabbling in more mature and contemporary themes. The teen romance was replaced with superhero action and horror. This development may have helped boost the sales of Archie comic books, though I could not bring myself to read these.
In a world which needs more love and laughter, the fading away of innocent enjoyment in the frolics of Archie and his gang is sorely missed.