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!

Comics – A Date With a Dummy

archie-comics-digest-magazine-102

Writer: Harold Smith
Art: Tim Kennedy & Rudy Lapick
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman & Gregg Suchow
Production: Gregg Suchow
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Original Publication: Archie Comics Digest Magazine, No. 102
Cover Date: June, 1990
Length: 6 pages

I’ve decided to review a comic this week, mostly to give myself more time to work on the big review. This is actually the first Archie story that I ever read (excluding the cover gag), because it’s the first story in the first Archie digest that I ever got. It’s also the new story in the digest. Back then, new stories were credited, but reprints weren’t (these days, with everything credited, who knows?). Of course, not knowing anything about Archie back then, I assumed the entire thing was new.

Jughead invites Archie to attend a triple-bill monster festival with him on Saturday night, but Archie declines, because he’s taking Veronica to the “Grateful Zombies” concert. Jughead is impressed, because his broke ass couldn’t afford the tickets. Somehow, I can’t picture Jughead as a Deadhead, er,…Zombiehead? Archie explains he got a part-time job as a “stock boy” at the Riverdale Department Store on Saturdays from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM. He’ll cash his check at lunch time, and that’ll pay for dinner before the concert. Jughead is envious.

Saturday, at 2:30 PM, Archie’s boss, Mr. Sellers (yes, really, and I’m not gonna make fun of it, because I once had a boss that worked as an employment specialist, and his last name was Works), asks Archie to drive out to their store in the mall and pick up a mannequin that they need for their display. So…the Riverdale Department Store has an additional store in the mall? What do they call it? It’d be pretty odd to walk around the mall, in Riverdale, and come across a store called Riverdale Department Store. Anyway, Archie agrees to do it, but first he calls up Veronica to tell her that he’ll be an hour late. This worries Veronica, but Archie says it’ll still be enough time to go to dinner.

Veronica decides to go to the mall and “console” herself with some shopping.

Later, Veronica walks out of the mall with a shit-ton of bags (which, by her standards, isn’t “serious purchasing”) and spots Archie driving off in his car with a red-headed “floozy”, which pisses her off.

Later, Archie has arrived at the main store with the mannequin. While Archie was out, Mr. Sellers got a phone message that Charlie McGee, the window dresser that the mall is sending over here, has car trouble and has Archie pick “him” up at the mall store. Wait, wait, wait. If Archie was heading out to the mall store anyway, why wasn’t he told to pick up Charlie? Or why didn’t Charlie bring the mannequin over to the main store?

Veronica comes by and confronts Archie about his “red-haired girl friend” (odd spelling). Archie points out her error. Veronica apologizes, embarrassed, but Archie finds it funny. He has to cancel dinner to pick up Charlie, and Veronica gets a good line in: “Your working for a living is ceasing to be amusing!”

At the mall, it turns out that Charlie is a hot blonde woman named Charlene. When Mr. Sellers said he got a “phone message”, does that mean he didn’t take the phone call himself? Archie assumed the dresser was a guy, and Mr. Sellers went along with it before even reading the name.

Meanwhile, Veronica remembers she forgot to pick up her dry cleaning and has to go back downtown.

She spots Archie and Charlie entering the main store and gets pissed again.

Mr. Sellers has Archie return the mannequin to the mall, because they don’t need it after all. Archie calls Veronica to tell her, but she tells him to fuck off.

Unfortunately, the store at the mall is closed once Archie gets there. By the time that he gets back to the main store, that’s closed as well. Archie’s mad at Veronica but then decides to take the mannequin to the concert.

Reggie and…some girl (Midge, I guess) see Archie carrying the mannequin, and Reggie has a good laugh over “the perfect date – a pair of dummies”.

Overall, this is an okay story, but it relies on a lack of communication. I hadn’t read it in years (possibly decades), but it’s still fairly funny.

Tune in next Wednesday!