Barack Obama appeared on The View, and Sarah Palin took time from her own TLC show to visit Dancing with the Stars this year. I guess after The View and DWTS there is nowhere to go but down, so I wasn't too surprised to see that Archie comics featured both as guests visiting Riverdale High in two winter issues.
Yep, those old Archie comics kids are still around. Stories about Jughead, Reggie, and Archibald himself -- along with the other oldest high school students on the planet -- are still captured in speech bubbles and distributed via old-school pulp and digital subscription. There's even an Archie iPhone app. Who knew?
Archie comics wants you to know they are on the pulsebeat of the country, just like when they added an out gay student to Riverdale High earlier this year. Archie Comics co-CEO Jon Goldwater told The Huffington Post
Archie and the Riverdale gang have always been a reflection of what is happening in America. Archie's adventures are happening now, in a world where Obama is president and Sarah Palin is the de facto leader of the Republican Party. Bringing Obama and Palin to Riverdale sprung from a great idea we had and rolled from there. It's kind of a "What If?"-type story.
The cover shows Obama and Palin sharing a chocolate milkshake as Archie, Betty and Veronica look on. Archie says: "Wow, I guess anything is possible." It reads as a bizarre double entendre, because Obama and Palin look as though they are on a date, hands close to each other, eyes blissfully shut, exactly like the classic spaghetti-eating scene from Lady and the Tramp. The storyline has the two politicos visiting Archie and Reggie to resolve student body election shenanigans.
Photo credits: Archie Comics and Walt Disney Pictures
I'm not exactly sure what Archie comics wants to say with this mess. Their milkshakes bring different ideologies to the yard? That Republicans and Democrats could reach across the aisles, because anything is possible and politics makes strange bedfellows? That Barack and Sarah make a super cute couple? They have said they want to be "relevant," but the Obama ran against John McCain and Sarah Palin, oh, a few years ago. The title of the story "Campaign Pain" says this issue is "1 of 2," with the next issue finishing the story. In addition to milking (and shaking) the story for one more issue sale, are the folks at Marvel suggesting that this is the faceoff we'll see in the next election?
Sketching President Obama in for a comic guest appearance is not a first. According to Comics Alliance:
Although the story by Alex Simmons and Dan Parent is way too late to be part of the wave of Obama-exploiting comic books we've seen over the past couple of years, Archie #616 is without question the single best comic to feature the current President and/or Mrs. Palin that we've seen so far. While other books slapped Obama's image on ghastly variant covers or crammed his persona into stories that were variously cute/terrible, Archie's "Campaign Pain" manages to make its sensational guest stars' appearances completely sensible in the world of Riverdale just by availing itself of the classic characteristics of the Archie gang.
Palin has had comics airtime too, like in this special one-shot comic of Steampunk Sarah published by Antarctic Press. But Archie is the first to pair Obama and Palin as a wacky couple reaching for their straws and across the aisle.
"Campaign Pains" is probably more of a PR ploy than a hope to be the next A Modest Proposal, but I don't think there's anything at this point Archie could do to seem relevant to me, gay character Kevin aside. Archie just isn't my style. If anything, I'd rather see Obama or Palin in the next post from Hyperbole and a Half or featured in Lynda Barry's next book. What about you? Did Archie's milkshake bring you to the yard?
Contributing Editor Deb Rox once sang the milkshake song loudly while on a treadmill, forgetting she was in the gym. Where other people can hear stuff. LOTS of other people.
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