Cover, Archie Comics, c. 1950
Rites of passage vary from culture to culture, but in the United States (at least) Archie Andrews and his Riverdale chums have kept pre- and early teens supplied with sex education information for seventy years. The mysteries of adolescence are confusing and often frightening; these comic books show young men and women interacting in enjoyable teen-age activities, with a base of sexuality underlying the proceedings. In a sense, it is a realistic depiction- desire and frustration is the motivation in many of the stories. In another sense, it is quite unrealistic- there are never any lasting consequences or real violence. Nor is the darker side of sexuality shown.
Over the years these comics have actually become less suggestive, more "acceptable" in terms of its presentation. This may have more to do with trends in illustration. The creator of Ren and Stimpy, John Kricfalusi, has explored this fascinating cultural phenomenon in his blog, JohnK Stuff.