It’s official. Archie and the Riverdale gang have clobbered the Hulk and Spider-Man…in the auction battleground at least. Just recently in 2011, at the Heritage Auctions’ Signature Vintage Comics & Comics Art Auction, a copy of Archie Comics #1 broke the world record for most expensive price paid for a non-superhero comic by bringing in a whopping $167,300. It’s enough to make even the Lodge’s – Veronica’s rich family in the after-mentioned comic – sit and take notice. And you can bet that the bid caught the attention of comic investors everywhere.
Mention Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead to anyone, anywhere, and there’s instant recognition. This is how powerfully the Riverdale teenagers have integrated themselves in today’s culture. A multitude of young people have read their adventures in comic form, or experienced them in a variety of media. There’s the clumsy, red-headed girl-crazy Archie Andrews; the sweet, athletic, blonde Betty Cooper; the popular, vain, and wealthy Veronica Lodge; and the odd, lazy, and gluttonous Jughead (real name: Forsythe Van Jones II).
Archie and the gang are timeless. There’s very little change from the way they’re portrayed now to the way they were featured in the yellow-and-orange cover of the very first issue. There’s awkward Archie about to blunder into another accident, Betty expressing her unabashed admiration for our lead character, sarcastic Veronica posing stylishly with her fashionable skating wear; and Jughead sporting his ever-present crown. Everyone who has read the comic has also been thrilled by the epic love triangle between the three main characters (not Jughead, who can’t be bothered by girls). Even the US Postal Service has recognized and paid homage to the threesome by featuring a stamp where Archie, Betty, and Veronica share a milkshake. (made by Pop Tate at their hangout, The Chok’lit Shoppe, of course!)
The characters are the semi-autobiographical creation of publisher John Goldwater, and their early exploits were penned by Vic Bloom and penciled by Bob Montana. Archie Comics is also the publishing company’s most popular and longest running comic; since the comic was published in the winter of 1942, their adventures continue to be published and read even now in 2011 (and one suspects that they will continue to be read by the next generation and the generations after them).
The recent record-breaking price of Archie Comics #1 – although still behind in auction sales compared to carrot-head’s more super heroic contemporaries, Batman and Superman – proves that the comic can hold its own. And why not? They’re legitimate pop culture icons of America. The Riverdale gang continues to live the innocent, small-town life that a lot of us long for.