Perhaps one day Archie Andrews comics will be placed in a time capsule. A time capsule is considered to be something that holds records or objects representative of the current culture of the day. That same container is opened at a much later date in the future probably because the objects inside were too valuable or had too much meaning to be lost forever. Archie Andrews died yesterday stopping a bullet that was meant for a friend. This act of friendship and heroism has been noted by his readers with mixed emotions.
Archie Andrews was born Dec. 22, 1941. He was conceived in the mind of John L. Goldwater, publisher and one-third owner of MLJ Magazines. Andy Hardy movies of the era fascinated him, so he decided to create a comic strip character modeled after young Andy, a teenage boy loved by everyone. He collaborated with Bob Montana, an artist and illustrator, and Vic Bloom, a writer. Working together, Archie materialized in the form of a cheap ten-cent 64 page monthly filler under the Pep Comics label.
Montana, Bloom and Goldwater decided that they were looking for something special in Archie Andrews. So they sat down and came up with the idea of a wholesome, redheaded, typical American teenage boy. Soon his pal, Jughead Jones and his girlfriend, Betty Cooper joined him. A few issues later, they introduced Veronica Lodge, Reggie Mantle and other members of Archie’s world.
Goldwater’s idea took off and Archie’s readership increased. Less than two years after his creation, Archie made the front cover of Pep and two years later MLJ morphed into Archie Comics. Archie was just a typical teenager in love with Betty one day and then Veronica the next day. His friend, Jughead, continued to pester him in a good-natured way, always trying to grub something from him, usually a hamburger. Archie’s world was no different than other kids at the time, including a love triangle between Archie, Betty and the infamous Reggie Mantle.
Over the years, Archie’s life changed: other comic creations have experienced the same phenomenon. In the 1960’s, Archie and his friends entered into a world of adventure and intrigue, similar to that of James Bond. Archie and his friends even became superheroes. By this time, Archie’s Life of Archie comics were so popular that a group of rockers got together and decided to form a band, The Archie’s, and in 1969 they reached number one on the charts with their hit, Sugar, Sugar. In 1971, Archie had his own animated cartoon show and in 1990 he starred in a made-for-TV movie, Return to Riverdale. By this time, Archie comics were popular in several other countries. Archie became so popular that he single-handedly carried his publishing company for more than 50 years. Over the years, many important people have had their possessions and written documents placed in time capsules. Archie Andrews comics could be given their own time capsule. Bob Montana passed in 1975. In 1999, John Goldwater died. Archie has aged ever so slowly. Vic Bloom seems to have disappeared, his whereabouts are currently unknown
Archie was still in high school in 1982 and he met another girl, Cheryl Bloom. Cheryl was quite a trendsetter, she decided to take a vacation, a long 10 year vacation. Archie, still young, waited for her. Archie did not see her again until 1994. Cheryl dumped Archie in the late 1990s for Dilton Doiley; she met him in an online chat room.
By 2009 Archie had finally grown a bit older and graduated from high school. Archie could stop thinking about Veronica and Betty. He had dreams about marrying Veronica and Betty; he just could not make up his mind. A few months later, he meets another girl, Valerie Smith, his first black girlfriend. He fell deeply in love with her and they conceived a child, a baby girl; they named her Star.
In 2011, Archie meets and makes a new friend, Kevin Keller. Kevin decides to follow in his father’s footsteps and goes into the military for a short time. Upon his return to Riverdale, Archie and his friends are invited to Kevin’s 2012 wedding. Just before the ceremony, he tells Archie and friends that he has found the love of his life and that he is very happy with him. A few months after Kevin’s surprise announcement, much to Archie’s disappointment, he and Veronica end their friendship.
The small town of Riverdale is not immune to crime and the use of illegal weapons seems rampant. Shortly after this epidemic hits town, Kevin’s husband is shot trying to prevent a robbery in progress. The world knows that Archie put his friend’s life first by stepping in front of a bullet that was meant for Kevin. People far and wide were astounded by Archie’s act of heroism, even as far away as India. Archie Comics publisher, Jon Goldwater said that Archie was not a super hero like all the other comic characters and that his death meant more because of that. The writers wanted to wind down the strip with a strong message. Perhaps by depicting how something so violent could happen to Archie, others could learn from him in some way. Many Archie fans are not satisfied with the way the comic is coming to a close. Perhaps someone will place some Archie comics in a time capsule to be preserved for a very long time.
By Dennis De Rose