April 24, 2019
One in a weekly series of enthusiastic posts, contributed by HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of our favorite comic books, comic strips, and graphic novels.
Oh, Veronica. Va-va-voom! Hair so black it had blue highlights. Breasts like a roast on a platter — all firm, meaty promise. I was eight or nine, wedged inside the linen closet, to read and reread my brother’s handful of Archie comics. I wasn’t hiding, exactly — but I loved the soapy, dusty smell of the sheets and towels, some combination of flaking plaster and Ivory Snow. I chewed grape bubble gum in gaggingly huge wads because the twenty-five cents my brother spent on comics at Gus and Bernie’s I spent on Big Bazooka, the size of a deck of cards. I dutifully read the boobless Bazooka Joe comics before discarding them, but they did not move me. I longed for the x-ray specs that were advertised on the back of the comics — imagining the hidden parts I could see beneath everybody’s clothing — but I was too embarrassed to ask my parents for the $1.25 check, and I didn’t know what a money order even was. I was small and sticky and weird.
You know the Dolly Parton song “Jolene”? How it’s supposedly about a man the singer has lost to her rival, but instead, almost accidentally, it’s just a kind of ballad about the rival’s beauty and charm? Betty and Veronica were like that, at least for me. Archie was some kind of negligible, eponymous fulcrum between them. It was all about the girls.
I have heard Archie referred to as a “gateway comic,” and it was that for me. But not an entry into the realm of darker, edgier comics. More like a portal into a certain kind of innocent pervertedness. Veronica’s mean-girl platter of boobs left me boob-hunting. I paged through my brother’s National Lampoon magazines and my grandmother’s Cosmopolitans for the inevitable naked-breast photos, which I looked and looked at. (I would have looked at penises too, but there weren’t any around to see back then.) And years later, my husband and I would buy a dirty comic book in a well-lit shop in Paris — the one comic book I have ever purchased in my life — and I would realize who the busty, smoking-hot black-haired protagonist reminded me of. “Stuff my mouth with bubblegum,” I didn’t whisper out loud, but I could have.
SERIOCOMIC: Mimi Lipson on LITTLE LULU | Sara Ryan on AMPHIGOREY | Gary Panter on THE NUT BROS./THE SQUIRREL CAGE | Gordon Dahlquist on POGO | Robert Wringham on VIZ | Matthew De Abaitua on CAPTAIN BRITAIN | Jessamyn West on FUN HOME | Bradley Peterson on HELLBOY | Stephanie Burt on KITTY PRYDE RETURNS | Jenny Davidson on OOR WULLIE | Luc Sante on MARSUPILAMI | Susan Roe on BLOOM COUNTY | Marilyn Berlin Snell on CHARLES ADDAMS | Deb Chachra on ARKHAM ASYLUM | Judith Zissman on ERNIE POOK’S COMEEK | Alexandra Lange on BETTY (ARCHIE) | Catherine Newman on VERONICA (ARCHIE) | Josh Glenn on SPIRE CHRISTIAN COMICS | Adam McGovern on THE CREW | William Nericcio on ERRATA STIGMATA | Chelsey Johnson on DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR | Sherri Wasserman on TANK GIRL | Tom Nealon on MEGATON MAN | Erin M. Routson on THE WEDDING OF SCOTT SUMMERS & JEAN GREY | Douglas Wolk on FRANK IN THE RIVER | Annie Nocenti on DICK TRACY | James Parker on 2000 AD | Adrienne Crew on NUTS | Vanessa Berry on MEAT CAKE | John Holbo on WITZEND | Michael Campochiaro on SPIDER-WOMAN | Miranda Mellis on RED SONJA & BÊLIT | Michael Grasso on THE NEW MUTANTS | Ty Burr on BINKY BROWN | Bishakh Som on AMAR CHITRA KATHA | Mark Kingwell on CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED | Brian Berger on JIMBO | Kenya (Robinson) on AGENT 355 | Seth on THE ETERNALS ANNUAL | Susannah Breslin on SLASHER | Lisa Kahlden on JACK CHICK TRACTS | Mandy Keifetz on KRAZY KAT | Tom Devlin on DUM-DUM POSSE READER | Eric Reynolds on ACTION COMICS #460 | Rick Pinchera on EIGHTBALL #16 | Juan Recondo on DAYTRIPPER | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on ROZ CHAST | J.E. Anckorn on HALO JONES | Deborah Wassertzug on GREAT POP THINGS | Peggy Nelson on MAD MOVIE SATIRES | Holly Interlandi on ANGEL SANCTUARY | Karen Green on THE SMITHSONIAN COLLECTION OF NEWSPAPER COMICS.
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