When I was a kid, I almost always had an Archie comics double-digest nearby. My mom would buy them for me at the grocery store, and I would pour over the pages. As a kid, the comics gave me a look into the future and what it would be like to be a teen.
While I knew I was dealing with some quaint, old-fashioned story lines (many of the double digests switched back and forth between teen Archie of the 1940s and teen Archie of modern times), it didn’t stop my imagination from churning, about what life might be like someday.
And those comics fed my romantic imagination too, as I pictured one day going on dates with a cute football player/class president/guy next door.
As I grew up, and those stereotyped romantic story lines gave way to the shape of my own adult life, I still nostalgically look back on lessons from the Archie comics.
- Always have a group of close pals and nurture those relationships.
- Be honest with your friends and family.
- Remember you’ll always be a little bit Betty and a little bit Veronica, sometimes at different points in your life.
- Take care of your neighbors.
I have not leafed through an Archie comic book cover-to-cover in more than a decade, but I was surprisingly saddened by his death, depicted in the last issue of “Life with Archie” comic book, released Wednesday.
The Globe and Mail published a thoughtful obituary for Archie, capturing the high points of the fictional redhead’s life.
Here’s the hardest part for me; in my mind, Archie wasn’t supposed to grow up.
But he did, and in his fictional life he encountered many of the same things I have in my own; interracial dating, openly gay friends, friends going off to war, and getting married, to name a few (“The Archie Wedding” issue was released months before I was married in 2010).
Selfishly, I wouldn’t have minded if teen Archie and the gang were still hanging out at the Choklit shop and planning their next adventure. Instead, I am shaking my head at the thought that Jughead owns the famed Riverdale soda shop, as if its news I am hearing from a real-life friend about a fellow high school classmate.
And now, with Archie’s death, instead of a window into the future as the comics have always been, they now provide a window into my own adulthood today, and what my own son will be looking at tomorrow.
While not as innocent or as idealistic as when I read my first Archie comics, the pages still offer similar lessons that ring true for past, present, and future generations. I miss the old Archie.
But years from now, when my son is old enough to read, I will dig out some of my old Archie comics and let him leaf through them, and I will point out that some of the simplest lessons we learn in the comics are the most important.