Comics – Telling It Like It Is

bettys-diary-17
Writer: George Gladir
Pencils: Stan Goldberg
Inking: Mike Esposito
Original Publication: Betty’s Diary, No. 17
Cover Date: June, 1988
Length: 5 pages

Hey, I’m sorry for doing a quickie this week, but it’s been crazy with interruptions, so the review that I’d been planning to get up today isn’t done.

Before I start, I want to advertise something that I’ve created: Riverdale Radio, a custom station on Pandora. Basically, I seed songs and artists (as much as are available on Pandora) that have been featured in any production based on Archie Comics (although, obviously, the station will play much more than that, and I do little to limit that). Obviously, the biggest influences are the 1996-2003 live-action Sabrina series as well as “Riverdale”, but I think everything is represented in some way. The station is updated every so often as I identify songs from Sabrina, or a new episode of “Riverdale” airs. Check it out.

This week, I’ve decided to review another story from the “Betty’s Diary” series. This time, I want to focus on the relationship between Betty and her older sister, Polly.

Polly Cooper takes some explaining. Originally, Betty didn’t have any siblings. However, in the “The Adventures of Little Archie” title, writer/artist Bob Bolling created an older sister (Polly) for Betty. Polly first appeared in #23 (cover-dated Summer of 1962). Bolling also created an older brother (Chic). His first appearance seems to be in Little Archie Mystery #1 (cover-dated August of 1963). Their existence was ignored in the mainstream Archie titles until they were eventually introduced into “normal” “continuity”. Adult Polly was introduced in Betty’s Diary #11 (cover-dated September of 1987). Adult Chic’s first appearance seems to be in Betty #4 (cover-dated February of 1993). Polly was a news reporter in San Francisco, and Chic was a spy(!). That explained why they weren’t around. Polly eventually moved back to Riverdale and was seen more often (in contrast, Chic has rarely ever been acknowledged; I count eight Adult Chic stories total), but the story that I’m reviewing today takes place before that; in fact, it seems to be her second appearance.

Betty muses about how, back in sixth grade, she imagined high school would be all sports and parties – and ended up being way wrong. Of note, sixth-grade Betty imagines The Archies playing music, so either she’s the one that came up with the idea for the band, or they were already playing music in sixth grade.

Betty’s had plenty of fun times at school with the gang – but greatly underestimated the amount of studying involved. Lately, she’s been wondering if her A average is worth the effort and considers settling for a C or D average. She questions the usefulness of algebra and a foreign language.

Suddenly, a screech of tires outside her window (apparently, Betty’s bedroom overlooks the street) alerts Betty. She goes out to meet the visitor and announces “Golly! It’s Polly!” They hug. Polly explains her TV station sent her to cover a story here, and she’s the only one on the staff that knows any Spanish. Polly asks about their mom and dad, but Betty says they won’t be back until much later. Having only an hour together, Polly takes Betty for a bite to eat.

During the drive, Polly asks Betty about “Riverdale’s teen-queen”. Betty’s like “All of this fucking school work sucks.”

After they get out of the car and are heading for the eatery, Polly tells her that it will all pay off. This is a problem that I’ve noticed with comics: characters seemingly have short conversations over long periods of time. It’s a result of sequential panels occurring in different locations, which itself is a result of limited pages in which to tell the story.

Anyway, Betty wonders if it will really pay off, and…why the fuck is Polly leading Betty everywhere by the wrist? That’s so rude.

After they’ve gotten their stuff (Betty got a sandwich and drink, and Polly got a coffee or hot tea) and are sitting in a booth, Polly tells Betty about an incident that happened when she went to Riverdale High.

Polly and two others from the honors class volunteered to clean up the stands after a football game. Sharon Miller, the “social butterfly and most popular girl in school”, came over. Polly doesn’t believe Sharon missed a single party or dance during her entire four years in school. Sharon unintentionally insults the “grade grinds” while trying to compliment them. Cathy is now a banking officer in Boston, and Nina is a “glamorous” advertising executive in New York.

When they get up to pay, the woman behind the counter asks them if they enjoyed the sandwiches that she made (I guess Polly just chowed hers down before starting her story). Polly recognizes the woman as Sharon Miller (I guess the sandwiches weren’t prepared fresh when they came in). Sharon has heard about Polly’s career and is impressed. Polly says it’s exciting but also hard work.

Outside, Betty asks Polly if that’s the woman from her story, because she’s a dumbass. Polly confirms it (the identity of the woman, that is).

On the drive back home, Polly beats Betty over the head with the moral of the story: you can’t have your cake and eat it too, and you’ve got to pay your dues to be someone in life.

After Polly drops Betty off and drives off, the two of them wave to each other. Archie comes by and asks Betty if she’s doing anything tonight. Betty says she can’t go to the spring dance, because she has to study. Archie tells “kiddo” (that’s rude) that he needs help with his algebra.

Betty agrees to help, and they study into the night while having cookies and hot chocolate. Betty writes in her diary that Polly was wrong about one thing: sometimes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Okay, let’s talk about this story. It goes the “hard work pays off, and slacking off doesn’t” route. However, there are plenty of factors involved in the real world. I was an average student in school. I didn’t strive for excellence but didn’t totally slack off either (as Betty was considering in this story). I went to college after high school and got a four-year degree in Business Administration. I then fell into the “no job without experience and no experience without a job” rut. I’ve had one office job, but I’ve primarily worked in retail, because that’s what makes up most of the private sector. Today, I’m a nobody at the company, but I’m making more money than I ever had before. It’s not great, but it’s enough to live on, barring anything truly bad happening. Part of it is my own doing, but it’s not due to not studying; it’s the simple fact that I have no motivation to excel and “move up” in someone else’s company; that means kissing ass and following someone else’s rules. If I ever get the nerve to take the plunge and open my own business, I’ll at least be happier. I wouldn’t be happy being a department manager or even a store manager where I work. If I don’t have that kind of drive (and a lot of people don’t), getting the best grades in the world won’t matter. There’s also the economy where I live (which makes Riverdale looks like a metropolis in comparison), which sucks and is worse than the state average. In contrast to my situation, I’ve worked for people that are, to put it lightly, dumbass motherfuckers, but they’re the ones that are in charge, because they have that drive (or they’re just lucky); they’re “social butterflies” if you will. So this story simplifies a complex issue.

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.

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