Archie Comics and Changing Times

It’s been awhile since the release of the brand-new, revamped version of the Archie comics, but it’s only now that the meaning of this has really struck me: No more Archie as we’ve always known it. For those of you who aren’t aware, Archie comics are being drawn (and written) in a whole new style. This is what the new version looks like:

Picture courtesy: http://www.businessinsider.in

Way different right? My knee-jerk reaction was to howl as if I had been physically wounded. What happened to Archie’s dorky hair? Why the heck does he look like an almost-blond Andrew Garfield? I hated it. That illustration seemed totally out-of-character with who Archie is supposed to be. He’s an adorkably average teenager, not some confident-looking guy with great hair. And his hair. It’s supposed to be red, for Pete’s sake, not dirty blond.

But like it or not, Archie’s comics have always been changing. Take a look at the 1940s version of the comic we all love:

This era is not really my favourite, either. I can’t help feeling that Archie looks more like a total weirdo (in a bad way) and Betty and Veronica are practically cartoon Barbie dolls. The story-lines aren’t too much better than the illustrations. I avoid these at all costs, but they sometimes sneak into older comics in a two-page or three-page dose. Check your grandma’s Archie collection if you don’t believe me.

That classic picture represents my favourite style, which also happens to be the most common one. They are just cartoon-y enough to be comic characters, yet not so cartoon-y that they look like dolls. This version has been running for so long that they’re always going to be around. And that’s a comforting thought.

Besides, once you reconcile yourself to the thought that Archie has changed, there’s no getting around the fact that the illustrations are gorgeous. Yeah, they’re different, and they don’t align themselves with the personalities of the characters, but they are gorgeous. The way the characters act in the comics will probably restore their personalities. So long as Archie’s comics continue to run, it’s okay if they develop a new personality. Maybe some future generation, raised on a supply of the new Archie, will groan about how Archie comics looked in our times.

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