My Name is Archie and I'm an Alcoholic
July 12, 2007 12:22 AM   Subscribe

Alcoholics Anonymous Comics, circa 1968-74 Via the unspeakably awesome Ectomo.
posted by jonson (46 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm snarkless.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 12:35 AM on July 12, 2007


These comics make me depressed.

I need a drink.
posted by lenny70 at 12:36 AM on July 12, 2007


The problems appeared to begin when the people in the comics got a family.

Stay single and childless.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 12:43 AM on July 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


you know, as hokey as some of these are, sometimes I think it wouldn't hurt to have more awareness about alcoholism in the family.

I can certainly relate to the kids in some of the strips. Although the long-haried hippy who steals cars and sells "drugs" because his dad drinks is a little over the top.
posted by Avenger at 12:49 AM on July 12, 2007


also, the total lack of contractions is a little odd as well.
posted by Avenger at 12:50 AM on July 12, 2007


the total lack of contractions is a little odd as well.

They used to use contractions. It started out as just a way to ease the typing pains and make things go faster. And all their friends were using them, too. Couldn't hurt, could it? Bt thgs gt outta hnd.
posted by pracowity at 1:00 AM on July 12, 2007 [11 favorites]


I have to hide my booze from Tom, but where?! I know! I'll take this ordinary box, and write HATS on it! Alice you sly girl, Tom will never question that box holds anything but hats! This calls for a drink!
posted by Stan Chin at 1:03 AM on July 12, 2007 [7 favorites]


Life without liquor soon becomes lost years.
posted by rhymer at 1:13 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have to hide my booze from Jane, but where?! I know! I'll take this ordinary box, and write HATS on it! Jim you sly fox, Jane will never question that box holds anything but hats! This calls for a drink!
posted by Stan Chin at 1:13 AM on July 12, 2007


What I found interesting is that, once you peel away the kitsch, the stories here aren't really very different from more contemporary cautionary tales about drugs. While the storytelling is more sophisticated, Requiem for a Dream and even Trainspotting (the films, rather than the books) aren't a million miles away from these strips.
posted by bunglin jones at 1:15 AM on July 12, 2007


The hat box -- one of the great lost props. But I'm glad to see that the wrecking ball still exists. It's hard to read the plate on that car, but I think it starts with "WILE.."
posted by pracowity at 1:21 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have to hide my gay porn, but where?! I know! I'll invite Peter Parker, my friendly neighborhood Spiderman over for a game of pool and molest him! Wait, what?
posted by Stan Chin at 1:28 AM on July 12, 2007


Substance abuse is pretty much universal, regardless of the chemical. Even stuff that doesn't have the biological hooks of opiates or cocaine can be addictive, and it does some depressingly predictable things to you and your life... stoners smoking their life away, carton-a-day chain smokers doing the same by shortening it drastically, and, yeah, booze.

A few things about these really stood out in terms of the issues the AA was trying to make. They make a point not condemn drink altogether, but to make the point that =some= people, not all, can have a real hard time with it. They also make a point that addiction is a medical condition, not a failure of will, and it requires lots of attention and support to overcome, and also how to cope if an addict in your life refuses support.

Also, this stuff is a fine example of silver-age comics style, with above-par art and storytelling for the period. Wonder who did them?
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:34 AM on July 12, 2007


Double post be damned!

I think it's also an interesting commentary on the phenomenon of comics as pop-culture, worthy of adult attention, that emerged in the 60's. In these strips, the four-color funnybook fad is put to some really good use. Excelsior!

I'm not certain an edgy, Frank Miller-eque graphic novel style comic would resonate the same way with AA's intended audience in the same way. Maybe manga?
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:39 AM on July 12, 2007


AUUUUUUUGHHH!!!!! AUUUUUUUUGGGGH!!!!
posted by Stan Chin at 1:46 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love it that the only things Alice could think of to keep herself busy were watch soaps, knit, and clean. I mean, what else is there for a woman to do I guess?
posted by Justinian at 1:56 AM on July 12, 2007


AUUUUUUUGHHH!!!!! AUUUUUUUUGGGGH!!!!

Fucking furries, stay away from those kids!
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 2:01 AM on July 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


I mean, what else is there for a woman to do I guess?

The documentaries I've seen suggest masturbation, a hot lesbian encounter, or Jorge, the gardener.
posted by maxwelton at 2:11 AM on July 12, 2007


Hmmm...the side trip to Ectomo was instructive. I might otherwise have never even suspected there was such a thing as Vulva perfume [NSFW if the name isn't warning enough]
posted by hwestiii at 2:26 AM on July 12, 2007


Al-Anon is different from AA. It is aimed at people who live with alcoholics who maybe have some addictions of their own, or who are co-dependant, from what I understand.

I've started AA this year, after nearly 2 decades of alcoholic abuse, & I've found it pretty good, so far. Maybe I've been going to the right meetings, but there's no god bullshit, & the people are non-judgemental.

Still, these comix are pretty funny.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 2:42 AM on July 12, 2007


An awful lot of these boozers have improbably tiny waists, is all I'm sayin'.
posted by maryh at 2:58 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


The AA audience in the late 1960s, when those strips were penned, must have been a generation older than most of the people depicted in those frames. In 1968, booze wasn't Alice's problem. Alice was ten feet tall. Alice was chasing rabbits and listening to the hookah smoking catepillar. Go ask her. Those strips weren't talking much to Alice. To 1958 Alice maybe, but certainly not to 1968 Alice.
posted by three blind mice at 3:27 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I'll try anything to get that drunk sober!" Such a nice way to refer to your wife.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:43 AM on July 12, 2007


Great find, as ever jonson, you link fu Ninja you. Savored the Ectomo treasures as well.

They seem surreal with their Archie comics look, while talking about such poignant issues. Like the title of your post, "My Name is Archie and I'm an Alcoholic". A kind of shocking contrast, which is typical for contemporary comics but not in the olden days.

In a way that seems very much AA style, to take a scary-shameful topic and make it appear very Archie.

AA has been planet changing since it began. The agenda was to talk truthfully about previously shameful and out-of-control aspects of one's personal life with others struggling with similar issues. Self-medicating for depression was brutal and destructive prior to the use of SSRIs. It's just strange seeing this in a comic strip. Yeah, I wonder who created these?

To 1958 Alice maybe, but certainly not to 1968 Alice.

Interesting point. 20 years later AA morphed into Narcotics Anonymous, then every A in the book.
posted by nickyskye at 5:11 AM on July 12, 2007


Nice post. Sad stories, but nice. And the Ectomo link was speakably A-OK.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:17 AM on July 12, 2007


Great stuff. I get a kick out of most public service oriented comics from the 50's through 70's. They're so damn hokey since they're forced to generalize and cram lots of info and story into a short number of panels.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 5:29 AM on July 12, 2007


Maybe drinking a big glass of sugar will keep me going.

Velma turned to booze to cope with the demands of the Scooby-Doo lifestyle.

And little Tommy grew up to be Chairman Mao.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:16 AM on July 12, 2007


Stan Chin that spiderman gets molested comic has to be one of the greatest of all time. The bottom panel on this page is the best.

Now I know how to make conversation at a swanky New York party!
posted by afu at 7:15 AM on July 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


there are quite a few treasures and curiosities on this site, some of my favourites:

if an a-bomb falls (1951) ("will you know what to do?")

abortion eve 1973 and who killed junior? (1973) - fascinating roe vs wade decision comics, particularly the former

hooked! (1966) and johnny gets the word (1965) - dealing with drug use and syphilis respectively

and how to spot a jap (1942) - a very nasty little propaganda comic

it's a fantastic archive, makes for some very interesting reading
posted by sleep_walker at 7:26 AM on July 12, 2007


afu writes "Now I know how to make conversation at a swanky New York party!"

"That reminds me of a New Yorker cartoon!"

Really, that line can be used in any conversation.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:28 AM on July 12, 2007


Great post. Thanks.
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:33 AM on July 12, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by item at 7:35 AM on July 12, 2007


jonson - I love you but...
posted by longbaugh at 7:42 AM on July 12, 2007


GAH!
posted by jonson at 8:27 AM on July 12, 2007


Metafilter: This will keep me going!
posted by hermitosis at 8:42 AM on July 12, 2007


Oh snapdragons! A new place to hangout. The drinks are on me. (burp!)
posted by doctorschlock at 8:44 AM on July 12, 2007


What on earth is she drinking? Canned beer on ice?
posted by rolypolyman at 8:45 AM on July 12, 2007


Here's a somewhat more contemporary graphic take on the "It Happened to Alice" tale (in pdf format), from the AA website:

Yes, AA can seem very corny, windy, old-fashioned. Yet the heart of the message still beats under the crustiness.
As far as the G-d business goes, AA is very open to all and, as its own literature says, plenty of atheists and agnostics have found sobriety there. Dr. Bob, the co-founder of AA with Bill W., told him early to stop insisting that everyone stop harping about his own particular spiritual experiences and give people room to find their own way.

The Village Voice had a marvelous AA inspired supplement some years back with real-life stories from addicts. Wish it were online. Both gripping and inspiring.
posted by jhiggy at 9:10 AM on July 12, 2007


Metafilter: "Here's the complete tiger website!""THAT'S NOT WHAT WE WANT!"
posted by dismas at 9:16 AM on July 12, 2007


Yeah, they're kitschy and dated, but they were aimed at the likes of me and my demographic and I can tell you that I read some of those when I was 13 and they helped a bit. So, you know, whatever.
posted by jokeefe at 10:30 AM on July 12, 2007


It's kinda campy and fun, but I'm just a tad dismayed to see that it's conference-approved literature. Bill W. was actually a very good writer, and took great care with his words. That stuff, not so much. Id'a been pissed if they'd tried to dumb it down like that for me when I first came around.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:23 AM on July 12, 2007


"I read about the problems of drinking......so I gave up reading."
-H. Youngman
posted by PHINC at 11:49 AM on July 12, 2007


afu, I think this page is better.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:00 PM on July 12, 2007


I have to hide my gay porn, but where?! I know! I'll invite Peter Parker, my friendly neighborhood Spiderman over for a game of pool and molest him! Wait, what?

A gay porn magazine named "Girlie"?
posted by five fresh fish at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2007


Kirth Gerson,
I guess the comic's topic got my mind on the wrong track, but when I first loaded that letters page I thought that Spider-man game controller was some sort of official Spider-man strap-on....
posted by Sangermaine at 2:46 PM on July 12, 2007


Ectomo is indeed awesome. ToM is dead, long live ectoplasmosis!

And Cthulhu Cthursday!
posted by homunculus at 6:35 PM on July 12, 2007


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