Jul 30, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 886: Life With Archie #172, August 1976

https://www.comics.org/issue/212809/

Okay. This is a weird one. In 1976, most of the United States were caught up in Bicentennial Celebrations. Archie Comics was no exception, and here' their comic.

It's amazing. And so problematic I don't even know where to begin. How about with the title?

"The Birth of a Nation." As in, the same title as a 1915 silent film that celebrates the founding and the actions of the KKK.

Um.

(Oh, and the only Person of Colour in the entire comic is a picture of Joe Morgan in an ad for free baseball cards in Hostess Snack Cakes. Native Americans are entirely absent.)

Or how about the strange strange depiction of historical figure Paul Revere? All of the other historical figures Archie meets in this story look like the traditional depictions of themselves, albeit Archie-fied. Except Mr. Revere. Instead, Jughead is cast in this role. Because...reasons.

Our red-headed everyman bounces around through the years 1773 - 1776, experiencing the signing of the Declaration of Independence, a visit to which prompts Archie's journey through time. He is overcome with swells of patriotic pride with each event he witnesses, waxing positively poetic in the caption boxes that move the tale along. Some of these boxes sound much like the writer was trying to sound like a piece of writing from the 18th century.

And then there's the end, where Archie is told by a security guard that, once or twice a year, someone has a similar experience while reading the Declaration. People "get caught up in the story behind [the] piece of paper." And he asks to shake Archie's hand because he's "the same kinda nut" that the Founding Fathers were, that he is America.

And then there's the Li'l Jinx strip midway through the comic, which I'll scan as soon as I get my new printer up and running and post here, a strip that proves that there were still subversive voices in Archie Comics in this thoroughly patriotic time.

To be continued.

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