Over in the Archie Comics corner of the comics universe, a story is underway in which they will be – sort of – killing off the eternal teenager who serves as the publisher’s namesake.
I say “sort of” because it’s happening in just one of the comics they publish, a series entitled Life With Archie, which, inasmuch as there’s any real continuity in Archie comics, is an out of continuity comic. That’s my understanding, at least: I occasionally read things about Archie Comics, but I don’t actually read any of the comics themselves, and haven’t done so for decades. The closest I’ve come is reading the utterly fantastic Criminal: The Last of the Innocent, which, deservedly so, was on all sorts of “best of” lists a few years back.
(Archie tends to be in the news – at least the comics news – frequently, as they’ve done a lot of interesting things lately, such as introducing an enormously popular openly-gay character, launched a horror comic called Afterlife With Archie, with a complementary horror-centric Sabrina the Teenage Witch comic on the way, and apparently* they tagged Girls creator Lena Dunham to write a comic.)
In any case, the upcoming issue featuring the final fate of young Mr. Andrews is going to feature a lot of variant covers by different artists, including this fantastic cover by AH! himself, Adam Hughes.
Earlier today I shot the link above to Scott, which prompted the inevitable question: Betty or Veronica?
I replied that for years my default answer, without even really thinking about it, was Betty. Granted, Veronica is rich, and, in theory more physically attractive than Betty (in practice, owing to the general artistic style of Archie Comics, they tend to look the same, just with different hair), and I do tend to prefer dark-haired women to blondes, but Betty wins out largely due to her personality. She’s more good-natured, less high-strung, and not nearly so high-maintenance.
However, in recent years I’ve found myself drifting a little more towards Team Veronica. Ultimately, my answer hasn’t changed – it’s still Betty. However, it’s not as reflexive a response as it once was.
After explaining all of this, I said, “And yes, I have thought about this a lot.”
Because of course I have.
So what has changed over the years to make me less steadfast in my choice? (By the way, in a perfect world, my answer to the question “Betty or Veronica?” would be “Yes. And also Midge. And Josie. And the Pussycats. And Sabrina.”)
Scott asked if I’d become a gold digger. It’s not that, though sure, the money would be appealing. If anything, it’s just that I’ve become more shallow.
But no, it’s not really that, either. Despite the fact that I’ve thought about it a lot, I’m not really sure that I know the answer, other than that when I was younger, I was more drawn to the tomboy, girl next door type, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed more of an appreciation for the more, for want of a better term, girly types. At the very least, I can appreciate someone who is very well put-together.
(And yes, this is all horribly objectifying, but we are talking about actual objects, given that neither Betty nor Veronica is a real woman, and to the extent that this is at all applicable to real women, it’s more to do with general archetypes than anything else. Or something. And of course it should go without saying that the assumption is that we’re talking about adult versions of Betty and Veronica.)
The other questions that this discussion raised was, beyond the obvious “Because of course I have” response, why have I given this a lot of thought?
As mentioned, I don’t actually read any of the comics, so what brings it to mind? Well, Betty and Veronica’s floating heads adorn one of the signs on my spinner rack, so that’s probably part of it, but really it’s just a matter of spending a lot of time thinking about all sorts of comic book women.
Comics do, after all, play a big role in who I am, and my interest in them is something of a defining characteristic. It’s only natural, then, that comic book women have an impact on my thoughts about and interactions with actual women. I’ve mentioned in other posts about how certain women in comics have had an influence on the kind of women I’m attracted to.
And the fact is that I spend more time thinking about women like Lois Lane, Jinal, Zatanna, Kitty Pryde, and a host of others, but Betty and Veronica find their way into the mix as well.
One of these days I might get around to actually writing up a post exploring just what impact the fictional women listed above have had on my feelings about actual women – at least in terms of what qualities I find attractive – but this isn’t that post.
Mostly I just wanted to get you all to look at that awesome AH! cover, and also share my amusement at my own statement about thinking about this a lot.
*That’s a sarcastic “apparently.” I’ve got a news app on my phone that, amongst other things, is set to find me articles about comics. At the time that the Dunhman-penned story was announced, there was a period of several days in which the only results I got – mostly from non-comics news sources – were about Lena Dunham writing an Archie story.