Comic books were a staple in my childhood, and reading them was like watching a movie unfold in real-time. Here is a look at three of my childhood favorites through adult eyes.
Comic books are still hugely popular today, no longer only the purview of adolescents. They are a great reading alternative for anyone who doesn’t normally enjoy reading. They’re also another interesting genre of books for avid readers. My siblings and I still make space for comics on our bookshelves. However, I’m much more critical of the content now than when I was a child. Here is a look through adult eyes at three comic book series I enjoyed as a child.
The Archie comics were the most widely read in my childhood. All my siblings enjoyed it, so we circulated them for months within our household. The adventures of the Riverdale gane were funny, with Jughead Jones being my favorite character. There were spinoffs, such as Betty and Veronica, Veronica, and Jughead. We loved wholesome Betty, snooty Veronica, gluttonous Jughead, and the accident-prone Archie.
We couldn’t identify with these characters, though, because their lifestyles and behavior differed from ours. They seemed very mature for high schoolers, and we wouldn’t have been able to get away with half the things they did. Maybe that’s the reason the comics appealed to us.
Thirty years later, the Archie comics series are still popular but are now digitally accessible. The series also now features one of the first openly gay characters, Kevin Keller, who also has his own solo series, making it much more diverse a series than when I was growing up.
When I read these comics now, I see Archie as a faithless, callow man. His affection wanders, and he revels in pitting Betty against Veronica. He’s still a wonderful friend though, which is in his favor, as he’s the center of the Riverdale gang. The characters I find most disappointing now are Betty and Veronica, as they always seem to sacrifice their friendship in pursuit of Archie, afterward resuming said friendship as if nothing happened. They also date other men, so it’s almost as if their affection for Archie is superficial.
Thirty years later, Jughead Jones is still my favorite character in the Archie universe because he is who he is. The Archie comics are still an enjoyable read, and with the TV adaptation of Riverdale, it certainly has gained a new set of fans.
Richie Rich is the ‘world’s wealthiest kid’ in the comic book world. He was also commonly referred to as the ‘poor little rich boy’. He seemed to have very few friends and was mostly alone in the Rich mansion. His collection of eccentric relatives added great humor to this series of comics. Most character names were a play on certain characteristics or money, like Dollar the dog and the van Dough family, to name a few.
Richie Rich was a boy with a gentle heart, but who was also tough as nails. He was altruistic and kind, and his middle name is a $ sign. Decades ago, that seemed intriguing, but today, that middle name would not raise an eyebrow.
I realized when I re-read these books, that Richie Rich was actually a lonely child. Despite growing up in unimaginable wealth, his only constant was his butler, Cadbury. In retrospect, his parents seemed to have mostly left him to his own devices.
This comic book series ended decades ago. They also subsequently published a re-imagined Richie Rich series. However, the older version of the comic book series is still a fun read.
The Adventures of Asterix
Asterix and his best friend, Obelix, are the protagonists in this French comic series. They are two Gaul warriors who are part of the resistance against Roman rule. The comic books take you through a series of adventures of these two characters. The stories focus on their missions abroad or in their village, which is fighting off Roman dominance. They consume a magic potion which enables them to fight off the Roman invaders.
This comic book series is similar to comic books about superheroes. Asterix and Obelix gain superhuman strength by consuming a magic potion prepared by their village druid. This is an action-packed comic and is always an entertaining read.
When I re-read this comic book, I thought it aged well. Set in Roman times, it was always a stretch of the imagination. I also realized that the characters rarely show any interest in women. There is a theme of national stereotypes running through most of the books, which may be offensive to some, and humorous to others. Apart from that, the Adventures of Asterix is still worth reading.
Comic books were usually on most children’s reading lists. Whether you were into superheroes or everyday heroes, comic books never failed to transport you to a unique world. Storybook visualization captured the imagination of most children. Today, the popularity of comic conventions, or Comic-Cons, around the world, speaks to the never-ending appeal of comic books.