Sep 1, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 554: Archie Giant Series Magazine #594, January 1989

Considering what a strange childhood Archie Andrews and his friends appear to have experienced, it's amazing to me that they've turned out to be such (relatively) well-adjusted young people. Though, more often than not, I imagine that many of the Little Archie adventures are more likely the imaginings of a group of children, rather than their literal lives. Really, such delineations are meaningless. A young lady in the Shakespeare class I took in my undergrad once bemoaned, to the professor no less, that she didn't get Shakespeare because there was just no way for any of the things that happened in the plays to happen in "reality." The professor, an amazing lady by the name of Mary Silcox, patiently (and through slightly-gritted teeth, I think) explained that the action of a Shakespearean play is stylized, that of course there's no way of this all occurring in reality - it's the hyperreality of such situations that's the point, so that we can also read action and drama as metaphor.

From this vantage point, the Little Archie stories make a bit more sense in the loose continuity of the Archie universe. These adventures and perils, this is what childhood feels like much of the time. There's a vague sense of the unheimlish, that uncanniness of childhood that Freud theorizes, in stories like the lead tale here of a young man from outer space coming to Riverdale to do Christmas shopping - the panel where he passes a window full of guns with ribbons tied around them is very odd. And the final story in this issue, where a giant pike remembers Little Archie and friends, offers a strange relationship, the kind a child might imagine, between an instinctual predator and the "bipeds" (as the fish calls them) that occasionally invade its territory.

Childhood is a strange place (as the wonderful Stranger Things has demonstrated). Little Archie embraces the strangeness, and tells some pretty great stories with it. Also of note, this whole issue was written and drawn by Little Archie creator Bob Bolling, so that's pretty neat.


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