Betty Cooper: Door Mat, Girl Next Door, or More?

Note: This post is crossposted on Maddo’s comics tumblog.

I follow Comically Vintage on Tumblr for the lulz to be found in out-of-context panels from older comics. Usually I get a chuckle and scroll on, but a few weeks ago I came across a post with the following image:

Image from PEP #192, April 1966

Maybe it stood out to me because I’ve been writing for this blog, but it really caught me off-guard. I had two simultaneous reactions: 1) I laughed at Jughead being humorously asexual and insensitive (as is his wont), and 2) I wondered what the hell Archie had done to upset Betty now. I probably haven’t picked up an Archie comic in a decade or longer, but my response was immediate and visceral. A decade-and-then-some younger version of me had suddenly surged to the front of my consciousness.

I sometimes forget the fact that the first comics I read regularly (outside of the Sunday funny pages) were the various Archie Comics digests–smallish paperback compilations of newer and older Archie Comics.¬†Which is to say, I’d read them whenever my mother would indulge my sister and me and buy us each a double-digest at a bookstore or from the grocery store checkout lane. I treasured the joyful, and ultimately futile, struggle of trying to make a double-digest last. It hadn’t occurred to me until I saw the comicallyvintage panel that I might have a very different perspective on the comics as an adult. It was time for (cursory) research and reflection!

The Archie Comics series has been around since 1941, and the comics are still in production today, with dozens of offshoots focusing on different characters.  Continue reading