Sunday, May 29, 2011
Sunday Funnies Spotlight: Forsythe "Jughead" Jones
I tried to give traditional superhero comics a try. I really did. They just didn't tickle my fancy the way a classic Archie comic used to.
Certainly I am not the only one who has been a fan of Archie comics. In 2011, Archie comics will be celebrating their 70th anniversary. It's hard to believe that if Archie was aged in real time, he'd be almost ninety years old today. That's absolutely unreal to me.
There was just something about Archie comics that attracted me from the very beginning. And, as you'll see later on by reading this blog entry, it was one character in particular that attracted me to the comic serial. Because as I grew up and matured from boy to man, I realized that this one character was a lot like me!
But, I'm getting ahead of myself here.
I got my first Archie comic just before my sixth birthday. It was a Little Archie comic book, and I have to admit that the first story had me hooked. I read that book so many times it fell apart, and it was by luck that I happened to come across another copy of it at a used bookstore years ago. So, Little Archie was my first introduction to Archie...well, Little Archie, anyways.
My first foray into teenage Archie comics was the book seen up above from 1987. Jughead Jones Comics Digest Magazine #44. This is a scan of the actual book too. Every crease and smudge on the cover is one hundred per cent real.
As you can tell, I really loved reading and re-reading my Archie comics. And it was with this book and countless others after it that I really started to get to know the characters.
There was Archie Andrews, your red-headed, girl-crazy klutzy boy whose heart was filled with great intentions, but his plans often went bust. There was blonde, girl-next-door Betty Cooper, who baked cookies AND fixed engines. There was rich snob Veronica Lodge. While she did have a heart of gold that one rarely saw, her appetite for gold, and silver, and diamonds, and rubies overshadowed most everything else. Finally, there was the boastful, self-serving braggart known as Reggie Mantle, who is in a class all by himself.
But, this blog entry is not about them. Rather, it's about the fifth member of this motley crew.
I don't know what it was about him, but Jughead Jones seemed to invoke a strange reaction in me. On the surface, Jughead was pretty much a one-dimensional character who seemed to possess at least two of the seven deadly sins. But, to me, he was a much deeper character. All of his traits could not only be explained fully, but I found that he was so much like me that I just couldn't go on with this blog without dedicating one entry to him.
At the end, you'll understand why Jughead not only became my favourite character in Archie comics, but why Archie comics became a huge part of my life from childhood to age thirty and beyond.
So, let's dissect Jughead at the place that makes him the weakest.
Gluttony is a sin. A deadly sin. And, boy does Jughead have it. The cover up above is just one of the many examples of this. Whenever you read a Jughead comic, it's a fairly good chance that some sort of food will be involved. Whether it be eating the world's largest hamburger, entering a pie-eating contest, or driving down to the corporate offices of a donut shop complaining about the size of the holes in the donuts, if there's food involved, Jughead will be there.
It's gotten Jughead into quite a bit of trouble over the years. From not being able to pay off his tab at Pop Tate's to getting detention for eating in Ms. Grundy's classroom, Jughead's love for food is almost obsessive-compulsive.
And I totally understand Jughead being that way. I used to be that way.
I was one of those people who didn't see food as nourishment or nutrition. I saw it as medicine. Medicine that happened to have cream filling on the inside, but medicine, nonetheless. From age 10 to about age 27, I used food to self-medicate myself. That's as many years as Jughead Jones is supposed to be alive!
Truth is, I used food as a way to cope with the depression that I suffered as a direct result of the bullying that I suffered from. I was teased at school every day, and when the kids weren't making fun of me, they were ignoring me. It made for a very lonely childhood, and even lonelier teenage years. When most seventeen year old boys were out and about taking girls on movie and pizza dates, I stayed at home, where I spent the evening with Aunt Jemima, Sara Lee, and Betty Crocker...well...kind of like Jughead.
But, at least I can say that I wasn't alone...watching Jughead binge-eat in some stories and gain acceptance from his peers because of it gave me some hope. I mean, sure, I wish I could have had his metabolism...but just seeing Jughead get accepted by people despite his flaw, it did give me hope that I could eventually get to be where he was. It just didn't start happening until I was twenty-seven.
From this note, we move on from one deadly sin to another.
Truth be told, when I was a teenager, I had people accusing me of being lazy because I never held down an after-school job, or did after-school activities or volunteer anywhere. It makes it a bit harder to swallow when members of your own family were making those very accusations. I also want to get it out there that this explanation is not me making an excuse over this. I honestly look back at that time of my life and wish I could be able to have had more of a social life and had been able to look for work.
But, it was kind of in relation to my issue with emotional eating...I felt ashamed of myself. I didn't like the way I looked or sounded or anything. All because I let some insecure brats make me feel badly about myself. It was incredibly cruel and insensitive what they did, but at the same time, I wish I could have been stronger. But that's what consistent bullying and emotional abuse does to a person. It belittles them, and makes them feel like they want to hide away instead of face it head on. It's especially frustrating when you don't even know what you did that would cause someone to do that to you. On the surface, my staying at home in my room wasn't laziness at all. It was fear of being judged. I was left unable to take even the slightest criticism because I had been hurt so much that I just saw it as a personal attack, and it took me years of soul-searching to even begin to separate the truth from bitter sarcasm.
Whoa...I totally did not mean to get so personal in this blog. Just went off on a tangent, I suppose.
The point is that Jughead seemed to do just fine being lazy. Though part of that was his own choice. More importantly, it was a choice he could live with.
Now, let's go to one OBVIOUS difference...or is it?
Or, rather...I was so down on myself and had such low self-esteem that I couldn't possibly be interested in someone else. I was having a difficult time liking myself most days back then.
Compare that to Jughead, who pretty much has one of the healthiest self-images out there (without going Reggie Mantle overboard). I get the feeling that deep down inside, Jughead doesn't HATE women (in fact, I've read dozens of stories where he's dated women and had a great time). In fact, I reckon that I would wager some money that if the right woman came around, Jughead would melt like a Creamsicle left outside in the hot sunshine.
Then a couple of years ago, I was thinking about Jughead in great depth and why he was a character that I idolized and respected so much as a teenager and even now, and it hit me one day.
Jughead as a teenager is similar to the adult I am now.
Sure, Jughead can be a glutton at times, but he's also used that gluttony to teach himself how to cook and bake and other food-related things. I bet he would make a great executive chef someday.
And, yes, Jughead gets more beauty sleep than the average person. But it's a well known fact that people who get a lot of sleep end up doing better on tests and have more alertness when it counts. I mean, Jughead is crafty and witty, and can come up with some ingenious (albeit self-serving) plots to get what he wants.
In short, Jughead has taken his lemons, and squeezed them into lemonade in his own peculiar sense.
I think I'm doing the same thing as well. This year in particular, I've really taken steps out of my comfort zone this past year, and have definitely made some positive changes for my future. I figure if Jughead could do it by dating the occasional girl and working at Pop's for a couple of shifts, I could do the same.
I guess the main thing that Jughead has shown me is that one can be considered to be one of the weirdest, eccentric people in the whole world, and despite all that, they can still be accepted. One of the main reasons why I got so attached to Archie comics was that Riverdale U.S.A. was the one place in the world where everyone loved each other, and respected each other, and showed kindness for one another. Nobody got bullied (well, unless you hit on Midge, and then you faced the wrath of Moose), and everyone in school had a date for the dance.
It was a comfort to know that when school got to be rough and I felt lonely, I always had that place where I could go where everyone was accepted for who they were and not how they looked. Riverdale U.S.A. was not only Jughead's safe haven...it was also mine. It was one bright spot in my childhood, and I cherish every Archie comic that I own as a result of it all.
So, to Jughead Jones, I say...party like a rock star. You (and I) have both earned it!