Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Archie Beat Marvel And Don't You Forget It (Well I've Been Using My Insomnia to Update My Comic Wishlist I Might As Well Use It.)

So for the past couple of years or so Archie comics has been going through a bit of a revival. And the go to response has been "holy hell Archie is all of a sudden interesting, when did that happen?" For most of my life hell all of it really Archie has been the go-to reference for the safe boring comics that wouldn't piss off your parents.  And I think that's kind of unfair.

First of all, Archie's been chugging away for so long that his resistance to the whims of time has almost become subversive in its own right. Everytime comics decide they need to go dark, with a few exceptions Archie tends to go , "no no that just ain't us man."  Though there are a lot of cringe-worthy attempts.

Second dear god. I loved Sabrina the Teenaged Witch as a kid... and Josie and the Pussy Cats is a fun little rock and roll movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. (If anybody was disappointed about the Jem movie  Josie and the Pussy Cats along with Spice World make a fun consolation.)

Seriously this entire post was basically originally going to be me going on about how fun Sabrina can be. But hey everybody has shows they liked as a kid and while a Sabrina nostalgia trip would be fun I don't know how insightful, hey remember that show is.

My real point is that Archie set the template for nearly every damn piece of fictional media created to hijack the brains of teenagers since.

Okay for those who need a refresher course on this. The post-war WII economy saw massive changes in society, namely creating a middle-class scenario where a single member of the household could financially afford to provide a comfortable stable lifestyle for their immediate family.

Oh, don't look at me like that. I hate the 1950s and their emphasis on conformity to pre-assigned racial, sexual and gender roles more than anybody but I'm also willing to admit being ABLE to economically support a family has a certain appeal even if it's not a path I ultimately choose.

I am willing to admit I am more conservative than I let on.

Anyway, I'm not going to even pretend homemaking isn't a stressful daunting task, but the kids. Well, this shift created a radical difference in what childhood looked like, particularly for the middle class in the United States often granting those kids with a massive dose of leisure time and money their parents would have found unimaginable.

All of a sudden businesses realized they could make a mint by specifically marketing to these kids instead of their parents.

And dear god that trend has become god damned important. Why else is every other anime protagonist an ordinary high school student. 

To bring it back to comics THE reason Marvel became a thing in the 1960s is that they managed to change the super-hero paradigm from being solely an extension of the pulpy genre stories of the 1930s and 40s  (oooh Detective Comics) to also focusing on the anxieties and struggles of the baby boomer teenagers who were actually reading the books.

That is the lights over the head reason why people give a damn about Jean Grey, Peter Parker, Johnny Storm, Kamala Khan, Robbie Reyes and even DC's brand of the same thing.

And Archie did it first.


Note: For me the most interesting part of the Killing Joke debates was which version of Barbara Gordan the fandom decided should be canonical. The darker gritty Oracle version older fans came up with or the newer... older.. whatever teenage version that seemed to resonate well with the audience after all the calls to make comics more inclusive to young girls. And honestly, I like both versions.

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