Comics – In Search of Change

bettys-diary-17

Writer: Harold Smith
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Rudy Lapick
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring/Production: Barry Grossman
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Betty’s Diary, No. 17
Cover Date: June, 1988
Length: 5 pages

I’m changing things up again this week, mostly because NaNoWriMo has started, and I’ve decided to participate again this year. This means you might be getting more comic reviews this month instead of TV reviews. I’m still working on the big movie review, so that will be coming up eventually.

I’ve decided to review a story from the “Betty’s Diary” series. “Betty’s Diary” ran for four years from April of 1986 to April of 1990 (cover dates), totaling 40 issues. Unlike the other series, the main focus of this series wasn’t on laughs; it was to make you pause and think. As the name implies, the set-up is Betty is reflecting on events as she writes about them in her diary, and she comes to some kind of conclusion. I guess the closest comparison would be Doogie Howser’s journal entries at the end of each episode.

Before we get into the story, holy shit, can you imagine there was a time when Betty Cooper had two solo titles? Now, she has none. How times have changed!

Betty muses about how, sometimes, something that seems really bad turns out pretty good after all. Today, she went to a movie and stopped for a pizza. She found she had only one dollar left for bus fare, the bus accepted coins only, and the driver had no change.

Betty looked for a place to get change. A bakery wouldn’t give change without a purchase. A “self-service” laundromat (there’s another kind?) had a change machine, but it short-changed Betty by 75 cents. She refused to spend her last remaining quarter to call the (six-digit) service number. The laundromat was deserted, so Betty decided to call Archie to pick him up, but she was so upset that she dialed the wrong number – and then got upset when the person hung up. Why? Was she planning to ask this stranger to come to the laundromat and give her a lift?

Upset, Betty started walking. She passed by a basket filled with deposit bottles and got an idea; they’re worth five cents each. She collected as many as she could. Some stores wouldn’t take certain bottles, but she managed to collect 75 cents. She needed just 25 cents more.

Betty came across a homeless man digging through a waste basket for bottles. He mistook her as being homeless and decided to show her where to redeem the bottles, because “homeless people have to help each other”. He’s been homeless for over a year. He lost his job and then his house. He, his wife, and his young son live in his car. Betty felt horrible for him and, overriding his refusal, gave him her 75 cents and two bottles. She also gave him the address of her church (this is a rare religious reference in Archie Comics), which she, for whatever reason, has memorized. She said they’ll help him find work and a place to stay.

Betty felt really good for helping that man, who she wouldn’t have met if she hadn’t lost that dollar. Also, she’d been so preoccupied with looking for bottles that she hadn’t realized she’s walked more than halfway home. I just want to point out that, if she hadn’t waited for the bus and then gone off in search of change and bottles, she’d be home already. Why take the bus such a seemingly short distance?

Just then, Archie showed up and offered Betty a lift. She declined, saying “I just got the biggest lift in my life!” She concludes she’ll have to explain that to Archie someday.

This is a pretty nice story. Betty went “in search of change” and ended up bringing change to a man’s life, however small. See what I mean about humor not being the primary goal? “Betty’s Diary” is one of my favorite comic series, because it offers insight into Betty’s character beyond what you get in a typical Archie story (comic or cartoon). I’ll probably review more stories from this title whenever I don’t have enough time to write an episode review.

Tune in next Wednesday!

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Author: markmooreauthor

I love watching anime and superhero movies, and I love playing video games. I also write fan fiction and original fiction.

3 thoughts on “Comics – In Search of Change”

  1. I always thought Betty’s Diary was better than Betty and Me.
    This plot shows how hard it is for writers to work around the cellphone problem today. They couldn’t write this story now because Betty could call everyone she knows for a ride. Even if they can’t come right away she can just sit down and play with her phone till they show up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think I remember reading this one. If I recall correctly, it was actually Al Hartley who started writing the Betty’s Diary stories (when it was still an ongoing feature in BETTY AND ME) as longer, more heartfelt personal pieces about Betty. Prior to that, it had just been a series of short gags (usually only a page or two) of the same type as the cover shown here — Betty perceives something that Archie did or said in a delusional manner, as being flattering to her, and signifying some deep feelings toward her (which obviously is not the case) – or at least that’s the spin she’s putting on it for the record in her diary entry. I’m not too familiar with Hal Smith’s oeuvre working as a writer for Archie Comics, but this was a nice little story. That said, I always felt that BETTY’S DIARY only really came into its own as a title due to the continuing contributions of Kathleen Webb. You could tell that she really identified with Betty as a character (and nearly all of her B&V stories are slanted towards Betty’s perspective), and her stories had a real feeling of genuineness to them that was rarely captured as well by any of the male writers.

    Liked by 1 person

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