15. July 2014 · Comments Off on Farewell, Riverdale · Categories: Ain't That America? · Tags:

Can’t say that I ever really got into comic books – about the only time I ever really encountered them was at the shoe store, the venerable establishment where Mom used to take us to get our shoes, which was also the place where she and Uncle Jimmy had also been taken in the 1930s to get their shoes. Yes, it was that venerable – and one of the practices of this venerable establishment was to present very small children and babies who had gotten new shoes with a balloon on a string, and the older children with a comic book, each. Otherwise, the only regular graphic publication which really interested us as we grew was Mad Magazine – bought at the dime store news stand as issues appeared.

It was different for my daughter, who cut her teeth on Asterix and Obelix, and much later – when she learned to read – the Archie comic books. The adventures of Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead and the rest of the gang had been going on since the early 1940s – so talk about venerable establishments! They were timeless and gentle stories, perennially stuck in high school, and I believe Blondie was pretty well convinced that the Riverdale that we drove through between Hill AFB and South Ogden (an otherwise indistinguishable suburb) was the Riverdale of the Archie stories.

So, eventually one outgrows the comic books of youth – I know that Mad Magazine stopped being the last word in amusing to me about the time I finished high school, and Blondie experienced a similar evolution when she moved on to Dragonlance novels. But still – one retains a distant fondness for childish things, as well as distaste for seeing them changed out of all recognition. Indeed, one can almost see such changes as desecrating a shrine … so, reading about an adult Archie being gunned down by an assassin going after his gay friend – a politician – and having gun control worked into it was … well, the mood varied between horror and discombobulation. It was kind of like discovering that Laura Ingalls Wilder really grew up and became a lesbian chanteuse in Paris and dallied with radical politics.

Anyway – just thanks to the publisher for wrenching a mild and uncontroversial traditional set of characters, beloved by kids of a certain age for the last sixty years and more, into the trendy cause of the moment. I know the desecration will have been complete, if it turns out that the assassin was a Tea Party type.