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The 12 Craziest Moments From Archie’s Christian Comics

In 1972, five years after he became a Born-Again Christian, artist Al Hartley took a job creating a comic book adaptation of “The Cross and the Switchblade,” a best-selling book that had been made into a movie starring the dream team of Pat Boone and Erik Estrada two years prior. The comic was a huge success, and paved the way for Spire Comics, a line of almost 60 Christian comics put out over the next ten years, most of which were written and drawn by Hartley.

At the time, Hartley’s primary work was for Archie Comics, and he was able to convince Archie president John Goldwater to license Riverdale’s favorite teenagers to Spire, which resulted in 19 comics in which Archie spread the Good News of the Gospel. And as you may already suspect from the fact that they come from the same line that brought you “Hansi: the Girl Who Loved the Swastika,” they could be pretty crazy.#12: God vs. Computer
From “Archie’s Date Book”

In “Archie’s Date Book,” the always lovely Betty Cooper gives tips on how to go about dating without it leading to “selfishness, deceit and guilt,” yet somehow manages to avoid advising young girls to not share their boyfriend with high-maintenance plutocrat hussies. In any case, as someone who has lost a night’s work by closing the wrong window on more than one occasion, I can confirm that she speaks the truth: Computers don’t give a damn.

#11. Parents Just Don’t Understand
From “Archie’s Family Album”

And speaking of things that don’t give a damn, here we have Hartley’s less-than-flattering portrayal of the Muggs family. Now, the older I get, the more inclined I am to agree with the “shut up, kid, you’re just being dramatic” school of giving advice to teenagers, but seriously, I’m with Ethel on this one. Being distant is one thing, but not even batting an eye when your daughter literally brings home a gorilla, even if he is wearing a pretty sweet hat, is straight up neglect. Don’t send her back in there, Archie. She’ll only graduate to even more awesome animals, like a shark with a British accent or a bear that smokes.

#10. From Paul’s Letter to the Riverdaleans
From “Archie’s Car”

As you’d expect, the Spire books weren’t shy about dropping in references to scripture, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time someone’s brought up the Bible and then told people to look the reference up in “Archie Gets a Job.”

#9. Frank Miller’s Riverdale
From “Archie’s Date Book”


In addition to taking a hardline stance against the X-Rated “Divorce Anystyle,” Hartley also gave Riverdale a seedy grindhouse theater district,. While it’s worth noting that most of the characters are angry (Archie and Dilton), morally superior and indignant (Betty) or downright scandalized (Veronica) at the possibility of seeing “BLOOD SEX SIN” (which I believe was a later-era Peckinpah film), Jughead looks like he is way into it. He’s even forgotten his ice cream.

#8. Still Better Than “Two and a Half Men”
From “Archie’s Date Book”

By the same token, while most everyone is shocked at Bob Eubanks daring to ask newlyweds how often they “made whoopee” Veronica could not be less interested. Her unimaginable wealth combined with the ennui of Old Money has led her to a world where she has seen things the likes of which the others can barely imagine. Like that time Mr. Lodge paid for her to be able to hunt and kill a man on her 17th birthday.

Pretty sure that happened in “Life With Archie.”

#7. Parental Discretion
From “Archie’s Family Album”

I was going to make a joke about the over-the-top warning on the TV here, but I’m pretty sure “viewing recommended for reprobates and degenerates only” actually was what ran before the first season of “South Park.”

#6. The Devil in Mr. Andrews
From “Archie’s Car”

The tiny little Devil and Angel who appear on someone’s shoulder aren’t exactly a new idea or anything, but it’s worth noting that I find the cloven-hooved little Archie simultaneously adorable and phenomenally disturbing. I blame the lack of pants for the latter, but the former is largely supported by the fact that he uses “applesauce!!!” as a cussword. Either way, probably better to not buy insurance from an imaginary representation of one’s conscience, even if it comes with an extremely low deductible.

Also, I gotta call the Angel Archie out on this one: It might have “DOOM” written on it and be unfolding into the subtle shape of half a pentagram, but it is, in fact, an actual roadmap. For all its good advice, the Bible won’t tell you how to get to Josie’s house in Midvale.

#5. Those Fingers In Your Hair
From “Archie’s Something Else”


The three biggest problems facing the Youth of Today: The occult, witchcraft, and knowing where babies come from.

#4. Vengeance Is Mine, Sayeth Betty Cooper
From “Archie’s Parables”

Fun Fact: Betty has a direct line to God that she is not afraid to bust out when the situation calls for some Wrath — and not that hippie New Testament God either. We’re talking the Old Testament rain-of-fire God, ready to rend the skies asunder at the Betty’s request.

Think about that when you’re buying your prom dress, Veronica Lodge.

#3. They Make a Cute Couple
From “Archie’s Date Book”


And now, Choose Your Own Punchline!

1. I can’t wait for the issue where the Lord takes Betty and Veronica to the movies at the same time!

2. Wait, Betty was dating a Latino in the ’70s? That’s way more progressive than I thought!

3. And yet her dad still gives him the stink-eye when he comes to pick her up.

4. “Yea, Elizabeth, I am the Way, the Truth and the Light. None shall enter the Prom except through me.”

5. What he doesn’t know is that she just broke up with Ganesh. Somebody’s on the rebound.

#2. Is That What They’re Calling It Now?
From “Archie’s Something Else”

Probably best to just move on.

#1. The Good Ol’ Days
From “Archie’s Family Album”


The idea of a (completely mythical ) perfect time back when everything was better is at the core of a lot of fundamentalist literature, but never has it been quite so mind-blowingly hilarious as Hartley’s portrayal of a bunch of teenagers in the ’70s waxing nostalgic for the 1900s, back when people didn’t litter so much and ladies weren’t quite so concerned with things like “equality” and “the right to vote.” One imagines that Chuck and Nancy would’ve had something to say about that if, you know, they’d been allowed to associate with the rest of the cast.

To be fair, though, I have to admit that Archie’s moustache is pretty sweet.

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