Life Without Archie

New Betty Veronica

Archie Andrews heroically takes a bullet for his gay friend Kevin Keller.

Nothing lasts forever 

After 75 years, Archie (Archibald) Andrews, beloved, freckle-faced comic character and poster child for indecision, will meet his end in a rather dramatic and heroic fashion in a 2-part story, starting with issue #36 of the comic Life With Archie, and concluding the story and the series with issue #37. According to reports, Archie takes a bullet intended for Kevin Keller, the first gay character in Archie Comics. Later today, fans will find out just how everything goes down and who pulled the trigger.

The internet has been a buzz since it was announced in April that Archie was going to die in the pages of Life With Archie, but when it was revealed that he was not only going to die, but die taking a bullet protecting his gay friend, people went crazy! Washington Post, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, and every comic nerd on your Facebook feed has been posting and tweeting about it. Even Dave Letterman went on a long rant about Archie’s death on last night’s Late Show (while I was writing this article). It seems all kinds of people are pretty passionate about Archie. 

The beloved character of Archie Andrews was created back in 1939, by Bob Montana and John Goldwater, in an attempt to tap into the popularity of the Any Hardy pictures starring the late Mickey Rooney and co-star Judy Garland. Ever since then, he and his friends in Riverdale have brought countless hours of reading joy to children and adults everywhere by means of Archie Comics. It was also a successful cartoon show which gave us the cavity-inducing song “Sugar, Sugar”. 

I loved getting the Archie Digests in the checkout at the supermarket or when I raided my Mom’s old comic book pile at my Nana’s house in Sunbury, PA. I always picked one up over the years, but I really got into the Archie Universe again when I wrote about Kevin Keller. I interviewed Dan Parent, who created Kevin in 2010, and he told me he wanted to keep the comics current for his kids. 

Archie’s death is just the latest attempt for the Archie Comics to develop more realistic and provocative story lines. The comic Life With Archie, which started in 2010, not only tackled the big question of who Archie would choose, Betty or Veronica, but dealt with many real world problems as well. Characters we used to see hanging out a Pop’s Chick'lit Shoppe in a lighthearted comical scenario were now dealing with things like financial hardship, breast cancer, gay rights, gun violence, and more. Kevin Keller is now a Senator, who wants better gun control. His husband was shot in a robbery.

Death Sells

Comic Publishers have consistently relied on the death of a character to generate sales. It seems like every character has died and come back, like Superman, Batman, The Human Torch, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Spider-Man, Captain America, The Flash, Green Arrow, Supergirl, and more. Marvel has been hyping the upcoming Death of Wolverine for months in hopes of huge sales. It remains to be seen if Wolverine will stay dead because I think he’s too popular a character to be dead for too long. 

And don’t be too worried about your favorite red-head; The Life With Archie storyline is more of a “what if” kind of story and Archie will be alive and well with all his friends in the regular Archie Comics. Yes, you heard me right, the main Archie comics Universe will still have Archie Andrews and he will still be pining after Betty and Veronica for the foreseeable future.

And if you want to get your copy of Life With Archie #36, head to your local Comic Shop now, because they will sell out with all this press coverage.

Special thanks to my friend Patrick Neil for the great artwork!!

© 2014