Monday, August 24, 2009

What About Jughead?

If you are looking for trenchant, biting political commentary, you should stop

reading. This is about comic books. It's not just about comic books; it's about sweet comic

books. It has no significant social commentary to make. Rather, it is inspired by the fact

that I read these sweet comics as a kid and enjoyed them. As summer winds down, and you've

heard enough about "death panels" to last you a lifetime; I pose this question. Who should

Archie marry, Veronica or Betty?

This moral dilemma arises because the latest version of Archie has a futuristic

scenario in which Archie envisions marriage, and he asks Veronica Lodge to be his wife.

This has so upset Archie fans that one, a comic collector, sold his mint condition Archie

#1 edition at an auction. (He received over $38,000 for the edition, so his sacrifice is

less than martyrdom, but still...) This man was outraged that Archie picked Ronnie. He

is a Betty fan. Betty winds his watch. Betty is cute and Betty is small-town America, and

Betty is nicer and Archie should have picked Betty. He's pissed and he is not going to take

this lying down. Yes, he is $38,000 richer; but it is the thought that counts. He loved

that first edition, but Betty is worth the fight.

I understand that were I to send this reflection to any of my children, they would

look at me with that blank stare that children reserve for their parents when they are so

out of touch as to be not believed. Archie who? Betty and Veronica, are they in the real

world cabo? What videos have they been in? Do they tweet? How many friends and

followers do they have? OMG, we don't know where you get this stuff, Dad. OK, you have

to be of a certain age to know, let alone care, or even have an opinion. I understand.

However, those among us who have debated in the past whether they liked Mary Ann or

Ginger better on Gilligan's Island, Cagney or Lacey, Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan, or

Judy Jetson or Ann Margrock (from the Flintstones), will have an opinion on this weighty


I personally never understood Archie's appeal. Betty and Veronica were both

cute and both wanted him. I was always a Jughead fan. He was much more interesting

and complex. I pictured him as an early stoner or member of the counterculture. Archie,

Betty, and Veronica always struck me as more status quo, middle of the road types who

would vote Republican more often than not. All that having been said, he has to pick one;

and apparently it is Veronica. I think he made the right decision.

Veronica Lodge is uber rich. Let's face it, Archie is not exactly a rocket scientist.

He isn't going into law or medicine. He probably ends up selling insurance or managing

a Dairy Queen if left to his own devices. Marrying Veronica insures that he gets the

American dream. The newlyweds will move into a huge house that Mr. Lodge buys for

them. (Mr. Lodge had a lot invested in Goldman-Sachs; and now that they have been

bailed out by Washington, he is back in the chips again.) He will give Archie a job in one

of his companies so that Archie can pull himself up by his Gucci bootstraps to become

the all-American success story. Veronica will stay at home and raise the kids with the

help of a nanny and a housekeeper, while working out and getting any necessary work

done so that she remains "cute" for years to come.

Betty, while just as cute as Ronnie (although I have a preference for brunettes),

is a much more problematic choice. As far as we know, she has no discernable skills

except for her love of Archie. She isn't rich. She can't help Archie network. She would

certainly be supportive of him and encourage whatever career he chooses; but she isn't

going to give him much of a boost. Granted, she might be more stable. She would not

be able to afford to dump Archie as easily as Veronica could, should he eventually succumb

to male pattern baldness and middle age spread.

By now, the Betty boosters are crying "foul"! She isn't a spoiled brat like

Veronica. She will be faithful to Archie. For Veronica, Archie is a trophy; but Betty

really loves him. Veronica is cotton candy, while Betty is cute and has staying power.

She will be better for him in the long run.

This is not a matter of earth-shaking proportions; nor is it going to change the

course of any historic events. However, ask your significant other or friends what they

think. (Don't embarrass yourself and ask your children.) I guarantee that every person

you ask will have an opinion. For those of you without a significant other, this would be

a great opening gambit in a social situation. You can learn a lot about someone by how

they answer. (Style over substance, etc.)

For at least one person, Archie's decision outraged him enough to part with

something very valuable to protest this miscarriage of justice. (I am so angry my mother

threw out all my old comic books.)

I moved on from the sweet and light of Archie to the darker, more brooding

worlds of Spiderman, X-Men, Ironman, and the Fantastic Four. They worked and

struggled and were filled with existential angst that would have mystified the kids from

Riverdale. However, I still care about them and want them to be as we are: happy,

doubt-filled, and wondering about what life has to hold. What do you think? I welcome

your comments. Please send them to


  1. When I was young (19-20) I worked at a military hospital in Japan - during the Vietnam war. When we weren't busy, the technicians would go to the break room and read Archie comics. We had stacks of them. Even though I'd given up comics years before, I found myself reading these old favorites and loving it. It was a great break from the jobs we were doing.
    Take care, and who is this Lion of the Left the funeral is for back east? Don't they know the Lion of the Left is from the Left Coast?
    Pam Over
    Novato, CA

  2. Let me urge everyone to keep up with Naomi Klein by way of Amy Goodman on today's program...