21 April 2012

[comics] Archie Comics #636, Where Girls Will Be Boys, and …

2800You can probably finish the title yourself.

I'm amused that, amongst all the people or things that are bravely (or accidentally, even) leading us into the future, Archie comics would be one. When I was growing up, of course, Archie was fun, but conventional, safe … and rather boring. While the visual style has always been engaging, as time went on the impression I got was of something that didn't require too much skill. I imagined that Archie characters weren't so much drawn as assembled.

But within the last year, Archie has taken what is, for me, an unexpected place at the front of the changing times. But then, what does popular art do but reflect the times, if it does anything worthwhile at all? So, last year, we had two important supporting gay characters get married, something which stirred up its own controversy. And now, Archie's going all Freaky Friday on us.

According to this article at gay.net (http://www.gay.net/hot-reads/2012/04/19/archie-gang-goes-gender-bender), as the story apparently goes, the male side of the gang and the female side of the gang get into a big argument about who has it easier … so Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (and her kitteh) decide to change everything up so that each other gets to see for sure.

What got me about the whole thing though was the art. There's something subtly different about the cover art (see the link). The standard Archie kit is all there, but it's somehow more accomplished. Of course, Veronica is adorable in that cute mini-dress (that said, I've always been a Betty partisan. I liked Mary Ann over Ginger, for what that's predictably worth), but one of the keys to a winning comic is drawings you like to look at (as Charles Schultz alluded to when he commented on Calvin and Hobbes) and these two cover arts are comic arts I enjoy looking at. The burger-munchery on the part of Jughead was a little gratuitous, and I still wonder how Archie gets those grid-prints in his hair, but the indignant look on Betty's face is one for the books, and the irritation between Archie and Veronica is the most real emotion I've seen in a long time from any Archie comic.

Despite the adventure, some things remain ere the same; on the cover of the swtiched (see the link) identities, "Archina" (argh!) is still the meat in the "Ronnie"-"Billy" sandwich. But that's all they're tipping thier hats to.

Archie #636 is scheduled to hit the newsstands in August, so we'll all have to wait until then.

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