Awhile back, I wrote a post on Losing Your Romance Novel Virginity, revealing my first–ever time reading a Romance Novel. But I later realized there were a series of books that prepared me, or “set me up” for reading stories that featured romance as the central theme:
Specifically, Archie comic books. Probably around nine to ten years of age, I started reading them and it quickly became a habit. The stories were about the daily lives a group of teenagers, fascinating stuff when you are looking forward to becoming one. While the plot lines were silly and the “romance” aspect pretty harmless, there was still enough sexual tension between Archie and his girlfriends (yes, he had two GF’s), Betty and Veronica, that it fueled my young fantasies. Snuggling and kissing were as far as it ever went, but that certainly was tinder for a fertile young imagination.
I began to wonder what it was like to be kissed, to have a boyfriend. Barbie and Ken dolls were great to practice with, having them dress up and go on dates. I also filled the pages of a notebook with my own crudely drawn comics, my own characters that had adventures and fun. And yes, they kissed, too. Lots of kissing.
Generations of girls (and likely some boys, too) grew up reading Archie Comics. They were first introduced in 1941 and have remained popular ever since. New comics, with storylines and artwork reflecting today’s trends are still being produced, but the old ones have their following as well. Through the website you can purchase books, comics, games, merchandise, and other collectibles.
The stories have also branched out in interesting ways- my Hubby, who has an obsession with the rock group Kiss, found the “Archie Meets Kiss” series and brought it to my attention. Kiss is everywhere these days, like it or not, but I wasn’t expecting that one! It turned out to be a silly story, but great fun. Monsters, zombies, and Kiss descend on Riverdale! Also the book I bought had artist sketches in the back, showing the development of the story, which was cool.
Another interesting series in the Archie world is the “Married Life” series, where in one storyline; he marries Betty, in the other, Veronica. I haven’t read it yet, but apparently it extrapolates out the life Archie might have ‘if’ he married either of girls. Which one is better? Can’t wait to find out (personally, I am rooting for Betty. You?)
Archie also has diverse characters, and has for many years. There have been characters of different races, a gay character, and in a new release this month, a disabled character. What a great way to introduce young people to the concept of diversity in fiction!
But the biggest surprise of all for me was to discover there is a series called, “the Death of Archie”. Scheduled for release this July, it chronicles the death of the beloved hero, and how his family and friends cope afterward. Archie Comics will continue, but this particular series’ story line will end with the character Archie’s demise.
I say kudos to the writers and producers of Archie Comics for continuing to explore various topics and creative storylines. Today, there is so much more going on in Archie’s world than sitting around at Pop’s , going on dates, and kissing. Although, I hope they never stop doing those things altogether! The “Teenage Romance” aspect is still important. Who knows how many budding Romance authors are reading Archie Comics right now?