Archie is dead... long live Archie!
Comic-book hero Archie Andrews (74) died in 2014 after taking a bullet to protect his friend Kevin Keller, campaigner for gay rights and gun control, from an assassin's bullet.
The much-loved pop culture creation, Archie Comics, was a mainstay in many a Bengalurean's childhood. The fast cutting between scenes and the quick narrative built a fan base here as in 70 countries across the world. Fast forward to 2018, and Archie lives on, staying relevant to youth culture.
"The world of Archie, when I was growing up, was what fantasies of college life were made of," recollects Rohit M D, owner of a hospital and a loyal collector of Archie Comics.
He began collecting them in his childhood, but lost track as he grew older. He got back to collecting them 10 years ago. "I now pick up comics wherever and whenever I can," he says.
But like many others, he is not too happy about the "marked change" in the characterisation.
A Bollywood film on Archie with over-the-top songs and dances are surely not for him like many loyal Archie fans. "I am not quite sure how the Bollywood interpretation of Archie Comics is going to work. I don't know how it can be Indianised," adds Rohit.
"Earlier, Archie appealed to the 13-18 age group. Now, it is for those past their teenage years. What we love is the old Archie with his silly antics, Jughead with his ravenous appetite and so on," he says.
The Riverdale-based comic book character is not out of touch with today's youth, says Mayi Gowda, owner of Blossom Book House, Church Street. "A lot of young people buy these. There are loyal fans among senior citizens as well," he says. He stocks both second-hand and new comic-books.
Sixty-year-old GG Padmashree started reading Archie in her early teens. "We grew up in the golden age of comics. The illustrations those days were superb and provided innocent entertainment. They are now in tune with modern times," she says.
As a young girl, she would sit at the bookstores browsing comics for hours. "Now if there is a new one, Gowda of Blossom informs me. Shopping for comics has been a top priority all my life," she says.
Bookworm, also on Church Street, displays a huge collection of Archie comics.
"The second hand sales digest is Rs 50 and the double digest is Rs 100. The magazine form comes at Rs 20," says Krishna, who runs the store.
Archie is not anybody's sole preserve - male or female, young or old. But his getting married and eventually passing on left many emotionally upset.
"Archie Comics have evolved with time,'' says Vanitha Poojari, a digital marketing professional.
"I started reading them as a young girl. I like the Archies of today and the 60s and 70s as well. The concept of family is the common thread that runs through them," she says.
Vanitha's daughter, Siddhi, 12, also loves the series.
"How the Bollywood version of Archies is received depends on how well it is made. For instance, if you look at 'Riverdale' on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, based on Archie Comics, there is a thrill in looking for similarities with the original comics," she says.
As long as store shelves are stuffed with these comics, fans like Rohit can breathe a sigh of relief.
"I want Archie comics to be a part of my legacy. I want my daughter to grow up with it too," he says.
Archie Kumar and Betty Devi?
Archie Comics, in partnership with Graphic India, is making a Bollywood film that will reimagine Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Moose and Jughead as Indians and feature all classic elements of the comic-book series.
The TV series Riverdale, based on Archie comics, was launched in 2017. Graphic India and Netflix have announced a Sabrina series, yet untitled. Sabrina is a character in Archie comics.