Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Reading: The Original Romantic Entanglement

Don't judge.

For the last several months, I have been reading Archie comics. Well, not all of them. There is a new series out called Life With Archie which is something of a "Sliding Doors" saga - each issue presents two different scenarios. This follows up a previous mini-series where Archie married Veronica in one sequence, then Betty in another. Archie and the gang have graduated from hanging at the malt shop and ticking off Mr. Weatherbee, and now have to deal with real problems like paying bills and breaking hearts, and deciding is there really is no place like Riverdale...even with the threat of chain restaurants spoiling the view.

Of course, there is an element of soap opera in each issue. Not to give too much away, but each issue has rich Mr. Lodge meddling in town affairs in his usual "money talks" manner. Veronica, who has matured and is less Kardashian here than she was as a teenager, has turned from Daddy's Girl into showing some cajones where business is concerned. Betty remains Betty, optimistic and adorable. I have to hand it to Archie Comics - this is a smart move taking the gang from teenagers to adulthood. Once a certain readership grows out of simple comic books, you have something here that appeals to an older audience. Truthfully I'm surprised with how quickly kids are growing up these days. I look at my six-year-old and she's watching shows aimed at tweens, when just last year she was still on The Wonderpets. She even knows how to work my iTouch. When I was six I played with Barbies, and she designs the clothes!

Only thing I'm not liking so far about Life With Archie is that, in the commitment to present real-to-life drama, they are getting serious in the present-day Funky Winkerbean way by having characters die off. I won't say who, but it is sad to read. I've read Archie in some form off and on for thirty-plus years, and while I like this shift, part of me wants everybody to remain timeless, and alive.

Anyway, while I bought the wedding series in print as a keepsake - and to pass down to Little One if she expresses an interest in comics - I've been buying Life With Archie via the Archie Comics app. What a pain in the ass. Every time I buy one it doesn't load immediately, or sometimes the purchase won't go through at all and I have to keep at it. When I update the other apps, however, I find it eventually works.

Why do I keep the app, then? Well, it's difficult to find Archie comics, particularly this series, outside of a Borders where I live. Comic shops around here don't carry them, so it's either this or mail order, and I'm trying to cut down on cutting down trees.

Is it silly for somebody on the edge of forty to be reading comic books? Well, there are people in their forties who write them, and I know many adults who read YA novels and manga - I don't see how one comic book a month qualifies me for the mid-life crisis just yet. Like I said, don't judge. :)

If you'll excuse me now, there's an adorable Hello Kitty t-shirt on eBay I have to get.

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