I really wanted to give this issue of Simpsons Comics
The kindest thing that I can say about Archie is that it’s not to my tastes. As a kid I bought everything, including the Archie digests. Not for long. Even as a kid I couldn’t stomach the adventure/soap opera of Archie. I felt the comedy was lame, the romance overplayed. According to my colleague Penny Kenny — who week after week contributes incredible reviews to this site on the subject of Archie — the Archie comics have changed, became more sophisticated.
The Archie group introduced a gay teen, expanded Archie’s romantic choices, including making Archie’s most serious relationship with Josie and the Pussycats bassist Valerie, who happens to be black, and established that neither Betty nor Veronica truly love the cross-hatch haired teen. All well and good, but even the presence of Norm Breyfogle just cannot motivate me to try Archie again.
Ian Boothby, Stan Goldberg and Andrew Pepoy craft a superb ersatz Archie, but therein lies the problem. It’s too much like Archie. Apu becomes Apop. The old malt shop owner. Bart naturally becomes Bartchie. Milhouse turns into Jughead. Sometimes they have to stretch it. Terri and Sherri become Betty and Veronica. Lisa becomes Sabrina,
The send up of the Archie decades is gem in the breadth of the material. The writers and artists explore every corner of Archie’s world–including the superhero versions of the characters, the current future Archie storyarcs and of course the dubious musical abilities introduced In the animated series spawning an actual hit by the truly melodic vocalists and musical talent behind the lame cartoon: “Sugar, Sugar.”
The art is frightening. Since Archie and the gang are teens. Goldberg matures The Simpsons cast to better fit the subject, and the results are ghastly. I mean that in a good way because the art reminds me of Archie, twisted in that Matt Groening sort of way. It’s a parody in the literal sense, and in that way the illustration is disturbing. Art Villanueva’s colors just add to the grotesqueness. The candy colors of the Simpsons work only for The Simpsons and Futurama. They look so out of place in this Archie world: particularly the fleshtones of Sherri and Terri.
For me the best moment in this issue of Simpsons Comics occurs when a Futurama cameo happens out of nowhere. The feeling I received from that is similar to the single best instance in Torchwood: when Jack Harkness hears the sound of the TARDIS, a broad grin breaks his face as he runs to meet the Doctor. It was then I realized I don’t even like Torchwood. I loved Doctor Who, always have and always will. I don’t even like the Archies. I love The Simpsons. Always have always will.
Ray Tate’s first online work appeared in 1994 for Knotted. He has had a short story, “Spider Without a Web,” published in 1995 for the magazine evernight and earned a degree in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 1995, Ray self-published The Pick of the Brown Bag on various usenet groups. In the POBB, as it was affectionately known, Ray reviewed comic books, Doctor Who novels, movies and occasionally music. Circa 2000, he contributed his reviews to Silver Bullet Comic Books (later Comics Bulletin) and became its senior reviewer. Ray Tate would like to think that he’s young at heart. Of course, we all know better.