Monday, June 1, 2009

How Archie avoids anachronism

So, apparently Archie is going to marry Veronica this fall. The media buzz around this seemingly trivial piece of information is astounding, I take my hat off to the media relations people at Archie comics that made it all happen. The news spread quickly and deep, hitting the far reaches and recesses of everybody's information network.

Word of mouth and social networks, like facebook, helped get the word out, but we must remember that certain criteria needs to be satisfied before any of this can happen.

Firstly, the news must be relevant to people's general interest. Archie, being quite iconic in North American society (you can't buy groceries without seeing an Archie comic book), is immediately identifiable and relatable, meaning people can make conversation with their friends and associates with that as a topic. Obscure topics would need to find a strong and dedicated niche group to enjoy similar widespread growth.

The next requirement is simplicity. If you remember the kid's game of telephone, you'll know that complicated phrase and difficult to describe concepts often get muddled as it goes from person to person. The message being spread here is quite simple and, again, it is thanks to the media relations people who works with the media, aka people who condense and simplify all information for easy digest.

The remaining requisites have already been mentioned: concentration, frequency, and initial impact. The last thing is controversy. The fact that Archie picked Veronica instead of Betty, the fan favourite, is sure to stir some discussion, which is a designed move to keep Archie as a topic of discussion for as long as possible. It is also a good move to draw in readers. If people are satisfied with Archie's choice, they won't bother to read how it happens, they already know the ending, or at least as much of the ending as they care to know. However, since it is Veronica, some people may read the comic in hopes that things will turn out differently.

As quickly as the news spread, the interest in it, like most pop songs, died within a few days. While most people have a soft spot for Archie from their hayday, most agree that the comic is not for them now.

Most were willing to write off the entire escapade as a non-canon entry, one that will be written off by the writers themselves in one way or another (either a dream/fantasy sequence or some contrived plot device). Archie comics follows an old tradition where the characters remain the same age constantly.

While the Simpsons are able to hide this fact well by avoiding most pop references, Archies often try to reach out to the current generation with constant references to pop culture, especially to current pop stars and trends. There was a time when Betty listened to Bruce Sprucesteen and Jughead loved the Hula Hoop.

Each generation has their own picture of Archie and friends. This is contrasted to whatever image they portray currently in the comics and often it turns older readers away, much like older parents who try too hard to show their kids that they're still "cool" and "hip".

So, as much as Archie is trying to draw in people with this so-called new development, it is more likely than not that people will forget about the whole thing or become desensitized to it by September.

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