Archie Comics ruined my life.
That may be sheer hyperbole, but it is nonetheless at least somewhat true. Archie and his gang provided a fairly substantial impact during my formative years and, while the stories and quips may have seemed harmless at the time, I’ve lived a disillusioned life as a result.
I can’t exactly remember when I started collecting Archie Comics, but I clearly remember being surrounded by dozens and dozens of them while growing up, mostly in the ‘60s-‘80s eras. It probably had something to do with my parents having been brought up in India, where Archie is sold in droves providing insight into an idyllic representation of American teenage-hood. And, oh man, did I ever devour them: I absorbed the way these teens spoke and maneuvered, many times appropriating their jokes, imparting them to my fellow kid friends, only to receive a wash of blank stares in return. Archie’s cheeky humour and lexicon was at times wickedly sharp, but more importantly, outdated and understood only by those who actively subscribed to his world. I mean, just try using “natch” in a conversation after 1965. Archie got away with it, but I sure did not. This, however, did not even remotely curtail my Archie ambitions.
But as I began to embark onto adolescence, I came to realize that the picturing Archie provided was hotly romanticized. I was a total rookie at life and not even in an endearing way such as the gang. I did not even remotely look like any of the pals ‘n’ gals, nor had the kind of dating life that any of the girls boasted. I suppose I should have figured as such — even the utopic-no-place of Riverdale, USA, with its simultaneous beaches and snow-endowed mountains, is a bit of a stretch for reality. But, I truly did believe that my teenage years would follow suit (and how wrong I was).
So yes, Archie, for a short while, managed to make real life seem pretty fucking disappointing. And sometimes I find myself accidentally working an antiquated Archie-term into conversation. Also, this is by no means a unique sentiment: I’m sure many of you fell victim to Archie’s idealisms, only to be greatly disappointed at a later date. All this being said, I love Archie. And Betty and Veronica and Reggie and (most of all) Jughead. I never did really stop reading them and I will never get rid of my old Archie collection (which is easily in the hundreds). It reminds me of when I approached everything with a sense of youthful naiveté. I still, and will always, find myself retreating into Riverdale, even if only for a page or two.
By Nivedita Iyer