Archie Andrews was my Drug Dealer
By Cristina Miller
I'm going to be upfront and tell you that I love me some Archie Comics. Archie. Betty. Veronica. Reggie. Weatherbee. Grundy. Jughead. Those names were part of my prepubescence. When I caught wind that a major television network was planning on bringing these names to life, my young infatuation was rekindled.
Between the ages of eight and eleven, when I would go to the Palm Desert Town Center with my parents and brother on any given weekend, I dashed to Waldenbooks on the lower level to spin the rack with the Archie Digests on them. With the Archie books, I would look for two things on the cover: Archie Andrews, the happy-go-lucky ginger Casanova of Riverdale High and his two girlfriends, bubbly blond girl-next-door Betty Cooper and raven haired junior aristocrat Veronica Lodge OR Jughead Jones, Archie's whoopee-capped best friend in the middle of any sort of shenanigans. (Yes, I was a sucker for Jughead). I grabbed one and hunkered down in some carpeted corner of the store and drank it in. The compiled stories of these teenagers growing up in the town of Riverdale was my first exposure to comics. The gateway drug, if you will, to what would soon be a passion for powerful mutants and anthropomorphic renderings of concepts. Archie Digests, along with its spinoffs like Betty & Veronica, Pals n Gals, Katy Keene and, you guessed it, Jughead Double Digests, would be stacked next to my bed. They were all read at least five times each and, in the case of the Katy Keene ones, pages missing due to the paper dolls I had to cut out and use. It was due to this world of youthful hijinks, botched double dates and Jughead's snarky asides that these books are ingrained into my tween-hood.
As I approach my fourth decade on this planet, my bookshelf has Betty and Veronica Double Double Digest stacked between Sandman: Season of Mists and Sex Criminals: Vol. 1 (if you haven't read THAT yet, what are you waiting for?). As with all of my other books I have collected, the Archie comics are a brick in my wall of literature and as with some of books I have collected, Archie and friends are jumping onto the small screen in the form of a t.v. show.
"Riverdale" is the name of the show and will be airing on the CW on January 26th. I have only known of this from magazine ads and word of mouth. Archie is moving into more sinister territory with Riverdale said to be a hybrid of Twin Peaks and Gossip Girl. The print ads do not reveal much with the word Riverdale in neon blue across a background depicting an eerie, foreboding forest of trees and a grungy lake. My initial reaction was one of curiosity and slight apprehension. What will they do to the misadventures that I knew and loved? Will Pops Tate's Chok'lit Shoppe be there or will it be replaced with something resembling the Double R Diner from Twin Peaks? How about Archie's sloppy jalopy? Or Jughead's shaggy companion, Hot Dog? I decided to delve deeper and watched the extended trailer/ teaser with a slightly open mind.
After viewing it twice, I am still curious. A few changes -- Jughead's crown cap has been replaced by the headwear of teen angst, a brimless beanie and Veronica is a witchy, gothic smart ass. However, Archie's hair is Carrot Top-level red and Betty is still the girl-next-door. From what I gained upon watching, Riverdale the town is draped in mystery with allusion to a death of a friend or classmate whereas I think of Riverdale as a technicolor town of pastel-hued houses and perfectly poured sidewalks. I plan to see the premiere episode on January 26th at 9PM and find out what all it is about but until then, let me leaf through my Betty and Veronica Double Double Digest in my carpeted corner one more time.