May 16, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 811: Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #230, February 1975

Today's comic did not produce the kind of ire yesterday's did, that's for sure. This is not to say that there aren't problems with the stories, but there's only one tale within the comic that hinges on the presentation of the female body to the male gaze, and the self-image that is associated with that gaze.

Now, what we do need to recognize is that each story actually revolves around domesticity. It's almost as if Betty and Veronica are not able to have adventures in the 70s that have anything to do with something other than the keeping of house. Betty is shown to be baking pies as a way of winning Archie's heart. Veronica shows her self-sufficiency by making breakfast for her parents (who end up being too busy, so Jughead is her begrudging default food disposal unit). The final story actually breaks slightly from the domesticity trope, in that Veronica is tasked with using the Lodges' new leaf vacuum, but once she notices a cute boy watching her, the manual labour becomes a fashion show. Rather than rely on her skill or the fact that she is doing something useful, Veronica's self-worth is wrapped up in how she looks.

There is another story in this issue that is kind of intriguing. After seeing an infomercial that asks a housewife to replace her one reliable cleaner with 12 competing brands, Veronica has a dream about Christmas being replaced by 12 holidays of her own choosing. Where Betty and Archie decline this exchange, based on the "meaning" surrounding Christmas, Veronica and Reggie get greedy and take the 12 holidays. But when Christmas roles around, it looks like they want to participate, but won't be able to. I say "looks like" because the center pages of the comic are missing. I find this is a common occurrence with the Archie comics I procure. They're not the sort of thing that people buy and keep safely stored in bags, boarded and boxed. Rather, they're the fleeting bits of entertainment that get left at a cottage, or shoved under a bed, that get read and re-read so many times that, eventually, the flimsy paper gives up and lets go of its stainless steel bonds. The missing pages are a sign of a comic being care-worn.

But it's annoying to miss the end of a story. (If anyone has this issue, and feels like sending me scans of the center pages, that'd be awesome!)

To be continued.

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