First thing first. My history with Archie.
This was the first I knew of the Archie characters. I grew up listening almost exclusively to 60s pop and R&B and Black Gospel music. The Archies were a thing. Then there was Sonic the Hedgehog. These were actually the first Archie comic books I ever read, and I was a fan. Then there was this.
At the time it was one of the few shows I was able to watch in my middle of nowhere middle school existence. (no cable, bad reception with the antennae.) On top of that, it starred a witch, which I’m sure my mother and step father would’ve hated if they knew I watched it. The other thing is that my Dad loves sitcoms. It’s a problem, but we deal with it. In my youth I’d watch anything he watched and went along with it.
Looking back, that show was terrible.
I finally got into Archie comics a few years later and enjoyed the mildly, but left because I had no disposable income of my own to buy them with. There was also this issue I had. You can note it in the two videos I posted as well. There was a lot of whiteness going on here. A whole bunch. It was kind of weird. (Note: No black people in sonic either. What’s the deal Robotnik? Just because you’re the only human looking thing in Robotropolis or whatever the name of your stupid city is there’s no excuse not to have any black folks in there).
In walks Chuck Clayton. He’s all. ‘Sup dudes. Word on the streets is that this guy use to be all manner of slick back in the 70s when he first popped up. Not as bad as any of the Black characters from say, Marvel, but pretty awful in terms of vocabulary. I don’t know firsthand, but I do trust my sources as they are very close to the issue. Fortunately for me, but the time I started seeing him pop up they had turned him from Archie’s black sidekick to Archie’s nerdy as hell cartoonist athlete friend who pops up at least every third issue. He has a family and everything. Mom’s a teacher, Dad’s a coach, and Grandma has an attic that needs cleaned. Eventually he gets a full time squeeze Nancy, which makes them the first monogamous couple in all of Riverdale High.
The thing I loved about Chuck was that he fit into Riverdale well. He was also a character I could easily identify with. I happened to be the only black kid in my high school full of white folks. Since Riverdale is a much much better place than middle of nowhere PA Chuck doesn’t have to deal with all the same things I did, but no one in Riverdale ever has to deal with anything most high school kids go through so it’s a complete non factor. He was also a nerd. I’m a nerd. I’m cool with this. These are things we can work with. That’s pretty much where my similarities with chuck end, but that’s enough. That’s more than 99% of American comic book characters. (99% may actually be a low estimate.)
I don’t have the history with Archie like I do with other comic companies like Marvel and DC. All I know is that when Chuck comes through he brings all his people with him. Teachers I’ve never seen before, little kids running around Riverdale that don’t exist otherwise, and random non characters in the hallways. I guess he told people if he was coming up they all were coming up. And it’s true. Chuck paved the way for the cultural explosion of Riverdale. Before Chuck, folk looked around Riverdale and were just bombarded with white as far as the eye can see. Nowadays we have Ginger and Maria Latinaing up the place. Raj and his family Indianing up the place. Kevin Keller Gaying up the place. It’s crazy. I’m sure a lot of this would’ve happened eventually, but props will be shown to the first. The Blackest Man in Riverdale Chuck Clayton.
I guess this is all that we need to know going into “Archie and Friends All-Stars. The Cartoon Life of Chuck Clayton”