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A Nostalgia named Archie

“When memories overcome your dreams, you are getting old “- Bill Clinton.

Well, Clinton might not be an Aristotle, but he is an ageing man. Many believe it is the memories which are the real treasures of an individual. Remembering them is just like splurging on a never diminishing bank deposit. There are some occasions in a person’s life when he wants to pause it. These occasions must be the time he wants to cherish for the rest of his life. If you ask me what would be mine, then it must be my cruise days as well as my B-school days. Although one cannot do this pausing, it can still be revived by getting associated with people, friends and things of those sunny periods.

Having said that I should also mention that there is still another instance when a person moves to a different world which he loves. He creates a virtual world and creates joy out of it. I am speaking of the imaginary world the person creates while reading the book he loves. Shakespeare said that you could a person could judge a person by knowing his friend; well, on the other hand, I believe we can judge a person by his choice of books.

The first novel I had read was Fredrick Forsyth's "Day of the Jackal" only because it was available at my house and nothing else was. Although I was unfortunate to miss out on Enid Blyton's writing during my early days, I made up for it by reading all other possible genres in my later days, and it's continuing. If there was one book which fascinated me as a kid was "The Archie" comics. Believe it or not, even today a large percentage of adults enjoy reading Archies, including me (only sometimes though ;) )

As a kid, I used to frequent a tiny library near my house. A small family ran this one-room library, and it was amidst a wood cutting shop, remote from the city landscapes. Surviving on the membership fee, this library had books which were mostly donated as gifts by its members. My neighbour, who was a college student, always request me to get Archies for her from the library. So out of my allotted three books, one as, always Archies. I too started reading it and started falling in love. More than anything, it was a window for an unassuming kid like me to peep and romanticise a world full of fun.

Archie is one original comic which does not have a superhero and neither it projects itself as a laugh riot. It is a story about a small town called Riverdale and the happenings in and around it. The hero Archie is a red-headed high school student dating two girls, namely Betty and Veronica. Betty is poor, and Veronica is rich. Jughead is the lazy friend of Archie who lives to eat and sleep. Reggie is the funny villain always trying to catch up on Archie’s girls. To add up to this masala, we have geeks, gals, professors, parents, coaches, dogs, witches and whatnot. No wonder, this had been the inspiration behind Karan Johar’s “Kuch Kuch Hota Hain.”

Jughead - A Visionary for many

Archie comics has sold over 1.5 billion copies all around the world and translated into a dozen different languages. John L. Goldwater created these characters. He got inspired by real characters he met in the Midwest during his travel days across the United States while looking for jobs and places to stay. Archie first appeared in a pep comic on Dec 22, 1941.

John L. Goldwater

Despite its entire goodness, one biggest mistake the creators of Archie have done was trying to make cartoon and other film versions of it. Like they say in marketing, the positioning of a product is in the minds of the people which determines its fate. The positioning of Archie in the reader's mind is way different than those showcased in its other versions. Similar is the case with most of the movies based on novels or comics. Reading a book is a different experience and watching a movie is another. While watching a movie, one is seeing the limits of the character and story, but while reading, the reader creates a different world. If this imagination clashes with the movie limits, then the experience of the movie goes for a toss, and so does the reading experience later on.

Like every good thing, even Archie Comics characters are changing over time. The Jokes have become pretty bold, and so the aspects. Some of the new characters like Kelvin, who is a Gay and Raj Patel, who is an Indian, signify the changing demographics in the present-day American youth. These changes, however, does not hamper the interests of the regular loyal readers of Archie, since this family-owned comic tries to maintain the same old outlook irrespective of the changes it had made.

So when someone who loves Archie gets to hold onto one of its copies, they are transported to a place where people never age and fun never stops. An Adult reader, reading them as a kid will relive the childhood in those brief moments. Next time when you come across Archies in those old roadside bookshops, don’t forget to stop by and pick them. Inside these books, you smell not only the decaying papyrus but also the nostalgia of numerous individuals which this book has succeeded in bringing out.


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