Recent discovery solves one of childhood’s greatest mysteries

I read a lot of Archie comic books growing up. Something about the lives of these Riverdale teens was so fascinating to me.

In hindsight, it probably had to do with the fact that young guys actually talked to pretty teenaged girls. That was a frustrating impossibility to the shy younger version of myself.

But while the comic antics were entertaining, they also portrayed a situation that was utterly mystifying. How could Archie be so smitten with the aloof Veronica, while blind to the equally attractive Betty? For crying out loud, they were drawn exactly the same, except for hair color! How could Archie ignore Betty in edition after enigmatic edition of the comic?

The riddle that had long plagued me was solved when I happened upon this tantalizing clue recently:

Archie didn’t pursue a relationship with Betty because she was already going steady with Jesus!

Suddenly, Archie’s avoidance of Betty made sense. Even though he was very popular, there was no way he was going to compete with the King of Kings!

If you find this revelation to be perplexing, here’s a little back story. Al Hartley, who wrote and drew Archie comic books, became a Christian in 1967. Five years later, he convinced his publisher to allow him to create a Christian version of the popular characters of Riverdale. Based on the huge success of Hartley’s prior work creating a comic book adaptation of “The Cross and the Switchblade,” Archie president John Goldwater licensed the cartoon teens to Spire Comics who created 19 editions over the next 10 years.

To today’s readers, the religious comics seem a little cheesy. Okay, a lot cheesy. But how cool is it that Hartley, an artist at the top of his game, worked to use his gifts to share the Gospel in such a visible manner.

Are there other examples of faith-based comics in circulation today?

HT: Comics Alliance

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