The nostalgia craze of the early 70s saw disillusioned hippies and disillusioned Republicans joining forces to bemoan the sad state of the modern world and wish themselves into the cornfields and quaint soda parlors of yesteryear. Cranky curmudgeons have been pining for the "good old days" going on something like three thousand years now, so I fully expect the barflies and retirees of the year 3000 to bore everyone around them with tales of how great things were in 2920.
At any rate, in the hands of master cartoon craftsman Al Hartley, the formerly up-to-the-minute Archie's gang suddenly find themselves transported into a time in which Everything Was Swell!
Just follow the friendly policeman into the World Of The 1890s! Miranda rights? Oh ho ho, you're not in the modern world any more, me boyo. Just move along there if you know what's good for you.
Reggie sneers, Betty places her faith in the Lord, Jughead's out of money, and Dilton informs us all of the inexorable laws of economics. In other words, business as usual.
Hey Grandpa, you forgot to mention going to school in the raging snowstorm, and the part about how it was uphill. Both ways.
But enough of that - it's Date Night, Gay Nineties style!
And one hundred years later, parents still embarrass their children by hauling out the baby pix. I guess some things never change.
Ah, now we see where this is going, as Archie points out the inherent goodness in the Old Ways.
The influence of the Gilded Age begins to work its magic on Archie's brain as he becomes shocked at the sight of a bare shoulder. Soon he'll grow a giant moustache and get a good job with the railroad, shooting Chinamen.
Didja know the 1890s were pollution free? All those locomotives and steam engine boilers ran on, um, pure thoughts and sunbeams. And, uh, fairy dust, or something.
Yes, let's take a close look at Nostalgia Land and find out what things were really like. I am positive this will be fact-filled and not a reactionary wish-fantasy from start to finish.
Well, I guess that's technically correct. When the local cops are breaking your skull for daring to strike for better wages and hours, you'd probably use some quaint 1890s epithet like "blackguard" or "bounder", not "pig". Oh no wait, there's no crime or civil unrest in Nostalgia Land! What am I thinking?
That's right ladies, you don't need to bother your pretty little heads with things like "voting" or "owning property"! Leave that to the men, we'll take care of it for you. Hope you like having babies!
People took pride in the safe streets of their neighborhood - protected from "unwanted elements" by certain vigilante organizations whose name we don't want to mention, but it starts with a "K" and involves sheets. Yes, our streets are safe, and ethnically pure. When visiting Chicago for the 1893 World's Fair, be sure to stay with Dr.Holmes at his World's Fair Hotel. If you're lucky, this serial killer will murder you! Your dismembered body will be disposed of in one of his handy lime pits. But - and this is the important part - it WON'T HAPPEN ON THE STREETS.
Also: don't eat those hot dogs (see Upton Sinclair's THE JUNGLE).
Wiseguy Reggie points out that there are plenty of things wrong with Nostalgia Land. What they are, exactly, we're never told. I guess Al Hartley didn't want to show the Spanish-American War, raging tuberculosis and diptheria epidemics, lynchings, the massacre at Wounded Knee, the Panic of 1893, or the segregation-enforcing Plessy V Ferguson. Or factories full of working children half Archie's age. The main thing is, people's hearts were purer!
Let's all thank the invisible sky god for allowing us to march together in unity and take pride in our child labor jobs here in Fantasy Nostalgia Land. We can solve all mankind's problems "Life With Archie" style by simply pretending to live in past eras which never actually existed. Buckle up for Year Zero, everybody!
SPECIAL STEAMPUNK MODIFICATION: To make the preceding story "steampunk", simply draw goggles on every character. Works like magic!
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