It may seem impressive that Congress passed a resolution last week proclaiming this Thursday as "PowerTalk 21 Day," urging parents to talk to their teens about drinking and driving.
But that's nothing compared to this: Archie and Jughead agree with them.
This month’s Archie Double Digest #217 features an eight-page story that addresses drunk driving and promotes PowerTalk 21, a new annual event that encourages conversations with teens about drinking and driving.
"We were contacted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and they wanted to see if there was a way for us to get involved," explained Victor Gorelick, president and editor-in-chief at Archie Comics. "Everybody was really exciting about working on this. Every day, practically, you hear about these young kids who get in accidents because they're not responsible. It's important to get this kind of message out."
Written by former DC editor Paul Kupperberg, the story sees the kids at Riverdale High are the first kids to experience a visit by Jason Witten, tight end for the Dallas Cowboys, who is touring the country to talk about drunk driving.
"Archie and everyone find out that this famous football star is coming to Riverdale on the first stop on his tour of lectures," Gorelick said. "Jason Witten actually is traveling to different schools across the nation to talk about the program, so this is real life. And we had permission from the NFL and from his agent to put him into the story. They had to approve everything, from the story to the artwork, which wasn't a problem at all. They approved it pretty quickly.
"Paul Kupperberg was excited to work on the story when he heard about it," Gorelick added. "He had worked on public service stories when he was at DC Comics, so he knew how important this sort of thing is. And the artist, Jeff Schultz, was really up for doing this too."
While Archie and the gang stay in character during the story, Gorelick admitted that the subject turns pretty serious by the time the subject is addressed. "The story itself isn't funny," Gorelick said. "It's still an Archie story. They all stay in character, and they're funny kids. But they get serious when they share information about this program."The official PowerTalk 21 Day is April 21st, and it's encouraging parents to talk to their teenagers about not drinking until age 21, and certainly not drinking and driving. Parents and anyone concerned about teenage drinking and driving can sign up on the MADD website to receive a free handbook about starting a conversation with teens about alcohol.
"They're taking a bunch of books from us to distribute," Gorelick said. "This is only the beginning. The focus is on parents starting to talk to their teenage children, starting on April 21st, and then it will be part of the program on April 21st every year going forward."
Interacting with real world issues has become something of a trend for Archie and the gang over the last two years. The company introduced Riverdale's first openly gay character last year, and the company's comics have poked fun at timely media hits Jersey Shore and Twilight. Recent guest stars have included Barack Obama and Sarah Palin.
"We like to keep Archie relevant, and Archie's a teenager, so he's at the age where these kids should be receiving information about what the problems will be if you drink and driving," Gorelick said. "The readers who read Archie have grown up with these characters. They're real to them. They can relate to them. They're part of their world, and that world is real. He's part of our culture. He's part of America. And these kind of stories are the type of things that America is talking about, so it makes sense for Archie to be there."