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Ciao Archie

Archie Andrews is dead, making this the most depressing thing to have happened to a redhead since Lost in Translation. He died this week in Life With Archie, a series that imagines his story in two timelines; one where he married Betty, the other where he married Veronica.

There is also a third timeline in which he married Jughead, but it isn’t in the book because their life together is so happy and uncomplicated, it’d be boring to read. Surprisingly, Archie did not die in an accident in that terrible jalopy of his. I’m assuming he still had the jalopy, not that I would know because I haven’t read an Archie comic in 15 years.

In a time before cable TV, Archie was my first exposure to Americana; Riverdale was a portrait of harmony. Everyone was good or average looking, “carrot-top” was the meanest thing anybody was ever called. Pic/Archie Comics
In a time before cable TV, Archie was my first exposure to Americana; Riverdale was a portrait of harmony. Everyone was good or average looking, “carrot-top” was the meanest thing anybody was ever called. Pic/Archie Comics

It’s entirely possible that marriage made him sell his jalopy in exchange for something sensible with four seats, climate control and an excellent NCAP rating. And in the timeline where Archie marries Veronica, I hope he got a Bentley as dahej at the very least, because Mr Lodge has enough money to secretly fund an Indian government.

No, Archie was shot protecting a friend of his from an assassin’s bullet. Obviously some serious s**t has gone down in Riverdale since I stopped reading, because the closest thing the series had to an assassin back then was Jughead’s cholesterol. I read a lot of Archie as a kid. I have an older sister, so there was already a decent collection on the shelf as I got to reading age.

Some were bought at the roadside bookstalls that littered the Churchgate area. Others wore plastic covers, indicating that they belonged to some library and someone had “forgotten” to return them (sorry Shemaroo). And a bulk of them were gifts from relatives abroad, a creative replacement for the duty-free chocolates they’d brought the last four times.

In a time before cable TV (and eons before even 56 kbps Internet) Archie was my first exposure to Americana; Riverdale was a portrait of harmony. Everyone was good or average looking, “carrot-top” was the meanest thing anybody was ever called, and even people’s deepest, darkest thought-bubbles never got to “I want to stab Reggie in the eye with Big Ethel’s nose until the pain fries his brain.”

Riverdale was also inclusive. Sort of. The gang had a token black friend Chuck Clayton whose token black dad was the token black coach. As the years rolled by, more marginalised characters were introduced. And even Reggie, for his constant douchiness, was a stand-up friend when it counted, and the only genuinely weird students I ever saw at Riverdale High were Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol.

I should be sad, but I’m not, for two reasons. One, ole carrot-top is the most boring thing about the comics that bore his name. He’s always been the boy-scout, the voice of reason or moderation. Jughead overeats, Reggie overcompensates, Veronica overspends and Betty overdoes the “When will he notice me?” thing. But Archie? He’s just boring. In the 90s, he met The Punisher (I’m not making that up) and even made that boring.

The other reason I’m not sad is because he died in Life With Archie. He’s still well and alive in Archie, The Archie Double Digest, the Jughead Double Digest, Gals N Pals, Little Archie, The New Little Archie, Explorers of the Unknown, R/C Racers, and probably this week’s episode of Jhalak Dikhlaja. Archie’s death, I can live with. But if any of you harms one hair on Sabrina’s head, or Josie’s, there’s going to be hell to pay.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi

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