Down the Memory Highway of Innocence and Debauchery With Archie

Lately, I have been feeling nostalgic, thinking about my love for reading comic books and graphic novels. It was a trip back home at Christmas that found my close bud, Amanda, give me some Archie Pals ‘N Gals ankle socks. To me, they’re all kinds of awesome. I was a big reader of Archies during my formative tween years. Now, every time I look at my feet, I think about my history with Archie comics, how much of a role they played in my upbringing, and how it really kick-started my love for comic books in general.


If you are not familiar with Archie Andrews, he is a fictitious character who has been starring in his own comic series since the 1940s. A red-headed teen from Riverdale, U.S.A., he rides around town in a beater (a jalopy, to be precise) with his friend, the perpetually hungry Jughead, and his rival of sorts, the arrogant Reggie. Archie and Reggie vie for the attentions of the two main girls, Betty and Veronica, who are best friends, and seemingly polar opposites, as Veronica is wealthy, selfish and vain, and Betty is wholesome, honest and kind. Both girls want nothing more than to go steady with Archie. The stories told in the comic weren’t terribly sophisticated, but they tried to be simple and humorous.


I wasn’t exposed to Archie until I was 9 years old. It was our housekeeper who gave me my first Archie comic as a birthday gift –  Archie Jokebook Digest #12. It was funny, graphic and easy to read – three things in my reading material that I was gravitating toward at the time. That comic digest launched an insatiable appetite for reading and collecting every Archie digest magazine that would be released from 1984 to 1987. It became particularly dangerous when I discovered Lefebvre’s, the used bookstore located down the street from my dance class had used Archies; my sis and I would speed down the street on our break and pick up 5 double digests for a $1.


My mom wasn’t terribly happy with this new-found hobby. As a kid, I struggled with reading comprehension in a big way (I was diagnosed with dyslexia). Archies are not the sort of reading material that one would think would foster good reading habits. For me, I had hit a wall with reading, and unlike my sister who enjoyed reading everything she could get her hands on and could read a 200-page book in one day, reading for me was hard work. Archies piqued my interest; they had short stories and were funny. My mom eventually relented. Archies weren’t Treasure Island, but at least I was reading something.

I wound up with a sizeable collection of Archie digest magazines that I would often use to trade with neighbourhood friends. Somehow, my sis and I would also end up with Archies that came from friends of my Mom whose children had grown out of reading them, and this was always a trip. The Archies were usually in traditional comic book format (not digest), older publications from the 70s and early 80s, and were the same Archie, but with an older twist. Archies in the comic book format weren’t sold in any store I would frequent. An Archie digest was always available in the supermarket aisles (as it still is today) but the comic book proper was not accessible to me, so it was always fun to get something like that.

Among these Archie comic books I seem to recall some Archies that were, shall we say…not your typical Archie Comics. Allow me to preface this by saying, from the age of 3 to 19, I went to church every Sunday, and was raised in a Christian home. Even though we were raised in this environment, we didn’t have Christian literature crammed down our throat at every turn. My Mom was a firm believer of having a strong moral compass; having that, a Christian could live in a secular world. Even so, it wouldn’t be so far fetched to have Christian Archie Comics passed down to us, would it?

Christian Archies. You read that right.

I thought I dreamt it up somehow, but a Google search confirmed my memory – Christian Archies did exist. We somehow got a pile of old musty comic books that seemed a little mature in a Rex Morgan kind of way; certainly not something I would be attracted to at all at my young age. I remember a comic book in the pile, based around the story of the Prodigal Son, called Live It Up.


I’ll never forget this cover…

In this pile of what seemed like “boring” comic books, were Archie comics. I mean, they looked like Archies, but, they weren’t your average Archie Comic.

The execution of the characters looked similar for the time, but the stories were…different. Archie and his pals were going about their lives, when all of the sudden, someone whips out a Bible, or you find Betty praying in the school cafeteria.


The comics were drawn by Al Hartley, a born-again Christian who was one of Archie Comics’ artists. He convinced the president of Archie Comics to introduce a line of Christian comics that included Archie Pals ‘N Gals. There were 19 Archie titles in total. I’m not hating on these comics, in fact, I am a little fascinated by them as an oddity. However, as a kid, I secretly found them a little hoaky and definitely didactic. Consider, in a normal day Archie chasing after Betty and Veronica. Then in a parallel Christian comic book, have Archie abstain and in fact be disgusted by sex and imagery of sex. Even as an 11-year-old, you could not breeze past me that something was a little different about these Archies.


While we are recalling Christian comics, let’s go to the dark side of Archie comics. I also seem to remember a story where Archie and Betty almost do it. You read that right – Archie and Betty almost get it on. <cue the Marvin Gaye>

I know, that must sound really weird. I mean, it’s not surprising that Betty would want to get it on with Archie considering the history they have. At any rate, I thought *for sure* my memory was playing tricks. I googled a lot, and thought I was having a Mandela effect moment, where over the years, my memory warped into thinking that it was true, when it was actually an active imagination turned into a false truth. But, if it wasn’t true, what was?

Thank goodness my reference librarian skills worked. I eventually found what I was looking for. Yep, I did.


The story, called “Saved By the Bell” comes from Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine #25 from July 1, 1987, and I totally remember owning that Digest. So it goes, Betty calls Archie sexy in a conversation with Veronica…


Sexy? What!

Later on, Betty spends a quiet evening at home, and Archie invites himself over. And, well…


The context of the story was burned in my memory bank. It’s so out of place with the wholesomeness of what an Archie is, and I have never read any Archie like it since.

We have the Archie comics of my youth – funny, innocent enough. We have the Christian Archies which take the moral tone. Now, we have dirty Archies where Archie and Betty almost bang. Bizarre. The end of innocence?

It was after the summer of 1987 when my interest in Archie began to wane. My tastes changed and I moved on to other things. I also craved more mature reading materials, and as I was getting a handle on my reading disability, chaptered books became more of an interest. Archie was slowly fading from memory.

About 10 years ago, my Archie Comic collection from childhood returned to me by way of a Boomerang gift from my parents. In usual fashion, my Step-Dad handed me a box on my way out the door: “Here, you’ll want to take these with you…” My comics were in terrible shape, having wintered in the garage for years, on top of the abuse they got when I was a kid. What do I do with these?? I had no time or patience to leaf through any of them to keep them as I was packing up our house to move to Stouffville. All of them wound up at a Barrie, ON recycling plant.

Today, I think about Archie comics as a novelty, and have considered buying particular ones if I come across them in my travels. If anything, it’s always fun to look back at this part of my life. I appreciate my experience and memory of reading and collecting Archies, and the memory of Archie and the gang is obviously still very strong.

[Book] A Game of Thrones: The Comic Book Series, Issues 1-24 #TBR20

A Game of Thrones: The Comic Book Series is my 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th book read for the #TBR20 challenge…at least that is what I am counting them as…I actually read the comic books, but they were released in four graphic novel volumes, so I’m counting them for the purposes of the #TBR20 challenge!

I have had a long sordid history with a Game of Thrones.

First there was the TV show. Back in the Winter of 2013, the hubs and I watched the first season of Game of Thrones. When it ended, he was jonesing for more… Me? Not so much. I concluded it was too violent…I didn’t care much for the characters…I found the character names confusing…pile on, I hated Game of Thrones. After watching the first episode of the second season, with my husband looking on to my scowling face (I didn’t realize I was scowling…) he said, that’s it, I looked miserable. He released me from watching any more GoT.

Then there was the book.

Just because I wasn’t watching the show didn’t mean I wasn’t constantly reminded of “how good” a show GoT was, even though I felt differently. It seems EVERYbody is into Game of Thrones. “The show is awesome! The books are awesome! Go on! Read! Watch!” Read? Seriously? I reasoned with myself that if I read the book, at least I could take my time with it…ponder it, and take notes as I went. I got my hands on an ePub of George R.R. Martin’s a Song of Ice and Fire, the first book in the Game of Thrones series.

Last month, I started reading it. I got about 200 pages in, taking notes along the way so as not to get too confused with the plotlines…and then my friend Bill from Start to Continue Podcast lent me nine of his copies of the Game of Thrones comic book series, and I managed to locate the rest. That was all it took…I was hooked, and no margin notes needed!

The Game of Thrones comic book series came in eBook format (technically .cbr), so I was able to read it on my tablet, which, I have to say, was a very comfortable way of reading, and one that I haven’t really explored until now (ironic, since in my professional life I run a transcription service where I provide eTextbooks to students with disabilities). I won’t discount reading comics on paper – the feel, the smell, and the portability are things that I like about the printed page. However, being able to read on my tablet allowed me to brighten and enlarge the page if I needed to. It was a different experience, and one that I will explore further going forward.

The Game of Thrones comic books were adapted by Daniel Abraham from the George R.R. Martin book, and drawn by Tommy Patterson. I loved its execution, and how beautiful some of the slates were. You could tell great care was taken with each frame, and I really loved the watercolour quality of the colouring. I also appreciated how the comic book managed to move the story along.

Obviously, reading the Game of Thrones comic series went better than expected. I am not one to enjoy the Medieval Fantasy genre at all (I’m a Contemporary Fic gal myself), so I thought I would be getting very sleepy fast. But, Game of Thrones was different. It was more like a Medieval soap opera set in this fantastical world where people live in stone castles, feast on “meat and mead”, and pack swords. I particularly enjoyed how GoT was written like happy hour at a Medieval Times supper club, complete with addressing guys as “M’Lord,” ladies as “wenches” and in that environment having the characters speak crassly like we do today, such as “taking a shit in the woods.” I won’t go too much into the plot, except to say the story of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons and Targaryans and how they play with each other is both immersive and shocking.

Speaking of shocking, there are things in this story that will make your jaw drop, particularly the themes around incest, and underaged brides. Now, I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed how women were portrayed in this book – I didn’t at all. Women in Game of Thrones are generally mistreated by men in some of the worst ways possible, which bothered me to watch it on the small screen, let alone see it dipicted in a comic book. I would even hazard that scowl I had on my face at the end of watching the first season had a lot to do with that exact subject matter. That said, if you are sensitive to images, or stories of domestic abuse and r—, I would give caution that this story can trigger a reaction…or just avoid Game of Thrones altogether.

Now, for the Game of Thrones name game.

Overall, I enjoyed Game of Thrones, my only real critique is how the characters are named. I don’t know if George R.R. Martin gave up on coming up with unique names for his characters or, lives to confuse his readers, but Game of Thrones is notorious for having multiple characters named the same name:

We have Robb Stark and Rob(ert) Baratheon.
Bran(don) Stark (Eddard Stark’s son) and Brandon Stark (Rickard Stark’s son).
Jon Arryn and Jon Snow.

Characters whose names sound the same: Tyrion, Theon, Tywin

And then having a main character named two names within the same sentence, as is the case with Eddard Stark, a.k.a. Ned.

See what I’m saying? It can get confusing without a notepad nearby.

At any rate, this Game of Thrones franchise has been an interesting journey. I think I am ready to rewatch the show now. And I better get on that because WINTER IS COMING…



A Game of Thrones: Comic Book Series #1-24
Dynamite Entertainment

#TBR20 Project Participant!! (but it’s taking me a lifetime!)

The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.

[Book] Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture / Douglas Coupland #TBR20

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture is my sixth book read for #TBR20 Challenge!

In the Fall of 1994, Douglas Coupland came to my Alma Mater, Western University, to speak and read excerpts from his book, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. It was a PACKED house. I went with a couple of friends who were very into him. I knew nothing about him, except he wrote a book where its stories were supposed to describe the angst of my generation; Generation X. I’d be lying if I said I was a willing listener. Mostly I was lost, while everyone around me sat engaged, almost like they were sitting at Jesus’ feet. People went on about Coupland for weeks afterward.

Following that lecture, a friend lent me their copy of the book. I tried reading it, but couldn’t get past the first hundred pages. The stories told by main characters, Dag, Claire and Andy about working McJobs, and telling their corporate bosses to get lost never spoke to me, nor held my interest. I was looking for some deep meaning, and I just didn’t get it. I wanted to like it like my friends liked it…but, alas, I wound up dropping the book.

I don’t “get” Douglas Coupland. I have tried and tried to pretend to be into him, I swear! But his tales of disenfranchised angst never spoke to me. It’s over my head or…something.

Twenty years later, and I thought I would give Generation X another shot. Again, I didn’t get very far in the book. It just didn’t sink its teeth in. What is the deal with this book? Why don’t I like it?

Is this book supposed to be funny? Am I being too literal? Sometimes I miss the joke…

Maybe it’s because I have always had a propensity to be rule-bound and respectful of authority? Perhaps I have a strong sense of responsibility and more ambition than was expressed in Generation X? Maybe I just couldn’t relate to the characters? Maybe I am happier than the weight of the tales told within its pages? I don’t know, but lets just end it here by saying this book really missed the mark.

On to my next book…

#TBR20 Project Participant!! (but it’s taking me a lifetime!)

The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.

A Box of Goodies and Some ‘Fee

It’s a blog link-up today! After reading this post, please join my friend, Aaron at Keeps Me Alive, where he shares what he got from me this week! Read about it here!

This past Monday I went to the post box and was happy to find a parcel addressed to me! It was sent by Aaron from the Keeps Me Alive HQ!

As much as I would like to say I wasn’t expecting this package, I’d be lying. But I am surprised with its contents, which were unexpected and AWESOME!

First, some context.


This past Christmas 2014, some of you may recall me gifting myself the Tragically Hip Fully Completely Limited Edition Super Deluxe Boxed Set, which contained a book about this awesome album, the full remastered album, a live CD of them performing Fully Completely live at the Horseshoe Tavern in the Fall of 1993, a DVD of Heksenketel, which was a glimpse into the Hip on the road during their 1993 Another Roadside Attraction tour and 5 lithographs. I recall Aaron commenting on that post about how awesome this set looked, and as a collector, how cool it would be to have it. I wish I shared his enthusiasm for it…although I love this particular album, top to bottom, the Super Deluxe set was great to peruse, but it wasn’t something I wanted keep in my collection for a lifetime.

At the same time, Aaron had received the smaller Fully Completely Deluxe Edition for Christmas. This one only contains the remastered album and live CD in one package. One day, I had a thought…why not ask Aaron to swap deluxe sets? He’d wind up with what he wants (the book and CDs), and I’d still have my album, which is really what I should have bought in the first place. I broached the subject with the hubs in January, and he supported me, but I decided I would sit on the idea for a spell.

A couple of weeks ago, I emailed Aaron to ask if he wanted to do the swap, which he excitedly said YES. And thus, the parcel swap was born.

Aaron’s parcel to me arrived on Monday. I don’t get home mail delivery – I pick up my mail from a community super mailbox up the street. Thus, Canada Post crammed Aaron’s package into the smaller thinner locked parcel mail box that is meant for much smaller parcels. As a result, I had to bend the box to get it out. Thankfully, nothing got damaged!

So, I opened the package to discover…the Fully Completely Deluxe Edition inside!! Yes!…along with some other surprises!

devils brew

…How about some COFFEE!! The minute I managed to unwedge the box, I could smell the amazing aroma of roasted beans! Aaron’s recent trip to Taranna provided him access to his favourite beans and brew retailer, Moonbean. He was generous enough to send along a one-pound bag of Devil’s Brew coffee beans for me to review on a future ‘Fee post! Yay!


…Next up, Andrew Cash’s Boomtown on cassette! Currently, the CD version of this album is one of my grail list items on the KMA! Aaron said he had this cassette in his collection, and decided to send it to me! Finally, the universe is how it should be!

Sony walkman aaron

…A Sony Sports Walkman! Aaron wanted to send me what he thought was the same model Walkman I had but broke years ago (read here for context). Alas, it is not the same model. However, I am still the proud owner of a half-decent Walkman! Now, let’s listen to some Andrew Cash!

Helen troy

…An odd action figure of …Helen of Troy?! Looking a little manish, this action figure is part of a diorama, and comes complete with concrete pillar. Helen stands with a shocked look on her face. I guess the fake pillar is so she has something to hang on to so she doesn’t pass out. Aaron says he had this stored away, and it recently surfaced. He thought that I should have it for some reason. 🙂  Helen will live on my desk at work, next to my Super Grover figurine.


Last, but certainly not least…the reason for the sending of the package: the Fully Completely Deluxe Edition! It is a simple set that folds out to reveal two CDs. The liner notes are reminiscent of the original album’s liner notes – songs with lyrics on one side, and the album cover on the other! Fantastic! I am very happy with this set!

As mentioned, I have sent along a package to Aaron. Be sure to check out his version!

Thanks again, Aaron, for the package full of awesomeness! Now go and read his post!!

[Book] It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken / Seth #TBR20

It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken is my fifth book read for the #TBR20 Project!

Before I go on any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration behind reading this book…thanks to my blogger friend, Aaron from KeepsMeAlive, and a recent blogpost he did on the Tragically Hip song that shares the very title of this graphic novel, I wouldn’t have thought to pull this one off the shelf so quickly. So, thanks for the inspiration, Aaron!


I didn’t expect to get through another #TBR20 book so quickly after finishing my last novel, but when I curl up to read a good book with a spot of peach tea and soon find that the evening has faded as I turn to the last page, that to me is a great sign of a good book.

I have no recollection of where I picked up my copy of It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, but likely it was on a Boxing Day sale a few years ago, which is about the only time of year – once a year – when my book-buying moratorium lifts. Initially, it was the cover art that attracted me. Then, it was the book title that mirrors a Tragically Hip song’s title that drew me in! Hold the phone…this wouldn’t happen to be a graphic novel about the Hip, would it??

Alas, it is not about Gordie and the boys… but now that I finished reading It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken, I am not the least bit disappointed that it isn’t.

The story is actually about Seth, a cartoonist and collector from Toronto, who goes on a search to find drawings by an obscure cartoonist, Kalo, whom he feels was his canon cartoonist. Kalo, or Jack Kalloway, had a few of his works published in the New Yorker and Esquire magazines in the 1950s. Seth, an obsessive collector, saught to find more on Kalo – any more published works, as well as any information on whatever became of him.

Seth, for one, is mired in nostalgia, preferring the past to the future, and feeling uneasy in the present. He frequently talks to his best friend, Chet (cartoonist, Chester Brown, of Louis Riel fame) about his neuroses, and gives hints to the reader that he may be experiencing some depression. Throughout the book, we follow him as he travels solo to his childhood town of Strathroy, Ontario – coincidentally the same town Kalo moved to after a brief spell in New York, to pursue a different career path, get married and raise a family. Seth managed to track down Kalo’s daughter, Susan, through whom Seth finds out what became of Kalo. Seth also discovers some lessons on maturity in Kalo’s history: the dignity in making choices, experiencing failures, and building strength in self to accept it all.

Seth’s self-proclaimed Picture-Novella, plays out like a graphic screenplay. Every cell is meticulously drawn as if the reader is watching a movie of Seth’s experiences. He’ll hone in on one thing that is seemingly random, but yet, brings you right there on the streets of Strathroy. His masterpiece also extends to London, Ontario and Toronto; and there are certain locations from these cities some readers would recognize, such as the London train station and the Royal Ontario Museum.

It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken will suck you in from the first page. Be prepared for a great story…and some self-reflection.


The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.

[Book] To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee #TBR20

To Kill a Mockingbird is my fourth book read for the #TBR20 challenge!

From what I understand, To Kill a Mockingbird is part of the standard school reading curriculum in the United States. Being from Northern Ontario, it was never part of the required reading, and I therefore never read this book at any point in my scholastic career. It has been on my “to be read list”…what a perfect opportunity to read it for #TBR20!

To Kill a Mockingbird is a bittersweet story written from the point of view of young Scout, a tomboy, and her experiences with her older brother Jem. They live with their widower lawyer father, Atticus Finch in 1930s Alabama. Atticus has been assigned to a case defending a black man accused of raping a young white girl. Needless to say, while Scout concerns herself with fears only a six-year-old could preoccupy herself with; like the bogey man who supposedly lives in that shady house on the dark end of their street, or fearing she got in trouble again for schoolyard fighting, the town is up in arms against the accused black man and Atticus, the lawyer assigned to defend him.

This story is one that dates itself to a simpler time, with not-so-simple rules for life. One cannot ignore the strong socio-economic themes of racism, class and sexual mores in To Kill a Mockingbird. There are other themes not as obvious: relationships between siblings… the loss of innocence in the realization that life isn’t fair. But, one lesson to take away is that there is virtue in fighting for what you believe in. Many of these subtexts made for a very moving and engrossing read. There are pivotal plot twists to this story that will also make the hairs on your neck stand on end. But, don’t worry, I won’t get into them here because I want you to read this story.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel I won’t soon forget, and I only wish I had discovered it before now.


#TBR20 Project Participant!!

The “To Be Read 20″ Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.

[Book] In the Pleasure Groove / John Taylor #TBR20

In the Pleasure Groove
is my third book read for the #TBR20 challenge!

Ask me in 1987 who my favourite band was, and I would say, hands down, Duran Duran. In fact, the years 1984 to 1987, I was in the throes of Duranmania.

Over the years, I sort of kept Duran Duran on my radar, “checking in” every once in awhile to see what the band were up to, even though my last purchased album of theirs was their 1988 album, Big Thing. At any rate, the story of their success – their humble beginnings in Birmingham, UK at the Rum Runner bar, their huge successes with their eponymous album, Rio and later Seven and the Ragged Tiger, the band’s hiatus and side projects, Arcadia and the Power Station, and their struggle to come back and get an audience with their fourth studio album, Notorious is one I have memorized. I bore witness to their successes, and their struggles via the media, video and the radio.

So when I discovered John Taylor’s book, In the Pleasure Groove in the remainder bin at Chapters recently, I thought it would be cool to relive those times from the perspective of a bandmember I didn’t pay much attention to. As good-looking as John Taylor was, the only member of the band I paid any attention to was Simon Le Bon; John was my sister’s favourite.

In the Pleasure Groove is told in John’s voice, delving into John’s upbringing, his close relationship to his parents, his budding interest in music, and childhood friendship with fellow Duran bandmate Nick Rhodes. He talks about how he and Nick created Duran Duran. In reading this book, I learned so much more about this band I hadn’t known before; details like the fact that Duran Duran was mostly John’s idea. John also deals with his very personal struggles with addiction to drugs and alcohol, as well as his side projects, including his time performing in Neurotic Outsiders with former Guns and Roses bassist Duff McKagan, and guitarist Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols.

Although I braced for a salacious tell-all, In the Pleasure Groove  was a passionate and engrossing read that is very balanced, and never puts anyone against the ropes (including Andy Taylor, former guitarist who really didn’t leave the band on decent terms). It’s an excellent book and I highly recommend it!

In the Pleasure Groove
John Taylor


#TBR20 Project Participant!!

The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.