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Comics fans in a tizzy over adult Archie's demise

MEREDITH  -- A chronicler of “Archie” comic strip creator Bob Montana of Meredith says she’s been hearing from fans who want to know why the all-American, red-headed character would be killed, as he is this week in one of the Archie comic books.

“I can’t imagine life without Archie,” said Carol Lee Anderson of Laconia, author of “The New England Life of Cartoonist Bob Montana”, the creator of Archie comic strips who died in 1975.

Montana had graduated from Manchester High School Central in 1940, attending one year there.

Since Montana’s passing, Archie’s comic book fate has ridden with Archie Comics, a large comic book company that developed a future version of Archie for its “Life with Archie” series.

That adult Archie’s death comes in Wednesday’s issue of “Life with Archie,” which concludes what some say was a “reality-show” version of the squeaky-clean, all-American character. Archie dies when he intervenes in an murder try on Archie Comics’ first openly gay character. The comic is said to have a pro-gun control message.

Anderson, who tours the Lakes Region to tell of her books, has been contacted by a number of Archie fans who want to know what’s going on.

“It’s kind of sad,” she said. “I don’t think there’s any need to kill Archie off. I love the way he was always portrayed by (Montana) as an innocent teenager. For some reason they decided to put all of these adult issues into his life, though Bob tried to do that as well at times.”

Shield Comics in Meredith has received inquiries about the alleged death of Archie, said store owner Jason Thomas.

The death does not involve the newspaper comic strip, where teen Archie lives on.

Comic book stores around the state have been telling people not to worry. “That’s just one Archie they are killing,” said Thomas. “There will still be plenty of Archie comics for people to read.”

“It’s a book that takes place in the future,” said Paul Lofaso of Chris’s Cards and Comics in Salem. “We’ll be getting that issue, but that’s not really the death of Archie.”

In fact, the “Life with Archie” series will continue without its central character after this issue, said Rich Brunelle of Jet Pack Comics in Rochester.

Brunelle said the death of Archie in such politically charged circumstances is really a publicity stunt by the comic maker. Archie may even return in the comics, he said.

“It’s a cash-and-grab move to sell more comics, comic book makers kill off characters all the time,” he said.

Brunelle used the Death of Superman in 1992 comic books as an example.

“Is Superman dead?” he asked.

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