As the November elections loom, the philosophical gulf between President Obama and former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin seems to yawn ever wider. But there is at least one place they can find common ground: the Chok’lit Shoppe, venerable hangout for Archie and the gang.
At least that’s how it goes in an upcoming issue of Archie Comics. On the cover, the commander in chief and the running mate of his former Republican rival for the White House placidly share a milkshake as Archie, Betty and Veronica look on. “I guess anything’s possible,” Archie comments.
It is in comic books, anyway: It’s even possible that the leader of the free world would take time from his busy schedule to get involved in some very local politics at Riverdale High. “There’s a student election going on where it’s Archie versus Reggie,” Jon Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher, told TODAYshow.com. “Archie is having a little trouble getting his campaign off the ground, so Veronica calls Obama for some help.” In retaliation, archrival Reggie’s campaign sends out an SOS to Palin, setting the stage for a ruckus in Riverdale — or so it would seem.
All Archie readers know that Veronica is the pampered daughter of a zillionaire, so it’s not so far-fetched that the president would take her call. But wouldn’t she be likelier to bring in a Republican big gun than a Democratic one? “People who have that kind of wealth play both sides,” Goldwater said with a laugh.
But even in a climate where politics seems to become more polarized everyday, Goldwater believes that the two sides may not be as far apart as they appear. “I look at Obama and Palin as people who seem to be polar opposites,” he said. “But at the end of the day they both want the same thing, which is the best thing for all of us.”
Although the story — which will begin in Archie No. 616, on sale the first week in December — marks Obama’s first visit to Riverdale, it is not the president’s first appearance in an Archie comic: In the May 2010 issue of Veronica’s series, “we had Obama having a conversation with Veronica about the economy, and it was popular and sold well,” Goldwater explained. “So we thought, ‘How do we feel about Obama and Palin having a conversation about the country in Riverdale?’ ”
Nor is it the first time that Archie Comics, despite an association with all-American wholesomeness it takes pains to maintain, has ventured into the country’s culture wars. Just this month, Riverdale High’s first openly gay character made his debut, and promptly had to fend off the affections of a smitten Veronica.
Time may move a bit more slowly there, but Riverdale does reflect America, after all — as does Archie Comics, Goldwater pointed out. "In the office there are plenty of Obama fans, and there are Palin fans, too.”
Still, he added, reactions from both sides to the Chok’lit Shoppe Summit have been “extra positive. People are so polarized these days that that image of a milkshake is shocking.
“People think it’s funny,” Goldwater added. “And then they think: ‘How great would it be for this country if it were only true?’ ”