Friday, April 30, 2010

Approved Reading



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.

By Professor Batty



10 Comments:

Blogger Some Chilean Woman said...

In my Mormon days I remember feeling guilty looking at Archie comics -weird!


Blogger Professor Batty said...

I feel a little guilty looking at this cover!


Anonymous Niranjana said...

Bootilicious!

Apropos of nothing, the comics had immense social cachet in India. I'd probably have donated an organ to get one of those door posters.
Not to mention Hostess Twinkies.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

When I was feeling that I was a good boy, I liked Betty. When I was feeling naughty, I liked Veronica. When I was feeling really weird, I liked Miss Grundy!

Hostess Twinkies! I'd have never imagined them having an international following.


Blogger Rose said...

So Niranjana and Batty have been on an Archie binge at the same time. That's pretty weird. Maybe we should all make a date to something equally weird--at the same time--
I vote for eating a hostess cupcake! Now that's something worth feeling guilty about,


Anonymous Niranjana said...

@ Batty: Eighties India was a socialist republic. A glossy American ad featuring a cupcake that supposedly was a bigger attraction than a hyper-sexualized Josie--imagine what that did to the country's deprived teens.

@ Rose: Sure, I'm all for a flash mob weird activity!


Blogger Professor Batty said...

~Niranjana- I think American pop culture can be more interesting from the point of view of an outsider than from within. An early contributor (2005-2006) to FITK was an Indian woman from Chennai (RS in those posts) and every once in a while she would throw me for a loop with an American cultural reference, i.e., a Liz Phair quote...


Blogger Comica said...

I just bought a Betty & Veronica double digest the other day! You've discovered my filthy secret: I occasionally still read Archie comics. My grandmother initially gave me a copy from the forties, and I've collected various ones like dirty magazines ever since.

I always rooted for Betty when I was younger; I thought she "deserved" Archie more, but now that I'm much more educated and progressive, I think that Betty deserves a guy she doesn't have to chase after! Viva Feminism!

(Actually, Betty should just date Jughead)


Blogger Comica said...

...and I just read what Betty said. Yikes!!


Blogger Professor Batty said...

Comica ~ Isn't Jughead gay?

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