Dec 25, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 669: Archie Giant Series Magazine #557, January 1986

We'll finish off our Christmas comics the same way we started, with Archie's Christmas Stocking. This one does a similar thing to one of the comics earlier last week, in that it is a series of interconnected short stories, though the connections are a bit tenuous at times. It's scripted by Al Hartley, who is infamous for having produced evangelical Christian versions of Archie and the gang, comics that I remember being extremely off-putting once you got to the end unaware that you were going to have religion shoved down your throat. The comic reads like one of Hartley's Spire-published comics, in that there's a lot of preaching about love and generosity and the spirit of the season. Jesus' name seems to be on most lips, but given that it's a secular comic, it's never spoken.

Santa appears to Archie and tells him he has to spread Christmas cheer, which Archie inevitably messes up. But the Christmas magic Santa imbues him with seems to spread to his entire gang, like a happy virus, ending with a Lodge-funded Christmas party for under-privileged kids. The story as told, however, is not even close to that coherent - somehow Veronica gets the Christmas bug, even though we see her interacting with Archie only tangentially, and then to yell at him. There is some talk of forgiving people for mistakes at Christmas, but when Archie messes up Mr. Weatherbee's Christmas shopping, there's no forgiveness, only blame. This is a weird comic that seems to want to say something to us, but has a hard time getting it out. And what it wants to say is the same thing that Hartley's Christian comics say - it's just that he's not allowed to in this venue, and thus the story suffers.

As far as I can tell, I've read all of the Christmas Archie comics I have this year and last year, so hopefully I'll manage to find some more over the course of the year. Tomorrow we'll get back to our regularly-scheduled (ha!) program. Onward!

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