I grew up on comics, and in my treasured collection Archie Comics share a fair amount of space with the others. As a child, they were my lunch-time escape into a context different from ours. But if Tintin and Spider-Man can visit India (as only they perceive it to be, I am yet to visit that India Physically ), then why not Archie and the Gang?
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(Image source: http://www.figurerealm.com)
Only yesterday did we (my brother and I) purchase a copy of World of Archie Double Digest ( Issue 9) for on its cover were Fair skinned Archie, Reggie and Jughead looking gauche in funny looking Kurtas, and Veronica and Betty flaunting something that seemed to be an incredulous attempt at the illustration of an Indian attire.
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But apart from this extremely cliché representation of adorning a local culture to attract the Indian audience, what added on to the mess was the dark skinned Indian boy “RAJ”. Of all the names and clothes from our context, this is the best they could manage. Such absolute superficial glocalization.
(In case you wish to know about Raj : http://reviews.in.88db.com/index.php/movie/movie-news/3162-of-rajs-rahuls-karthiks-priyas-and-poojas-romantic-hero-heroine-movie-names)
As the narrative (” Love Me Baby, Mumbai!!” ) proceeds, Raj is to direct a movie based on an obvious Love Triangle (between of course Archie, Betty and Veronica) for none other than Bollywood! and for this they have been invited to shoot in India itself.
(Since it is a Bollywood movie, Raj is forcing Archie to sing and dance. Note: The Dark Skinned Lady is wearing a Sari, yes that is a Sari)
Though they definitely wanted to use local imagery in the backdrop, I fail to understand how a Ghat (Riverbank) similar to the ones in Varanasi or Hardwar appears in Mumbai (no its not Dhobi Ghat) and why are people moving around in funny looking turbans?
To add on Archie and Betty (in their gross exotic outfits) are seen in what seems to be a Sabzi Mandi and Veronica finds Luxury Silk Scarves in street market.
And though I freaked out on seeing an almost mythical Snake Charmer sitting next to a GolGappa counter in the panel on Chowpatty, my sis in law confirmed having seen one there, though of course sans the theatrical dressing. And even if there might have been an instance of the same, was it still required to be placed in a comic panel for creating an Indian Identity?
Are these symbols something we can identify with? How can I, an avid Comic reader be expected to accept and digest such unnecessary distortion? I respect Comics and hence am disheartened to watch this coveted medium being filled with… well trash. As Scott Mccloud would say:
I wish they had actually done a thorough contextual research or invited inputs from local artists if need be, than present such stereotypical and irritating representation to their audience. I haven’t read the next issue, nor do I intend to, but going by some articles on the internet, the narrative continues with an inclusion of Bollywood songs and the movie is a Hit…
Here is a glimpse
A Video titled: “Glocalization: How Starbucks is Leveraging Local with its Global Brand”