234 pgs/ $14
Bygone pop culture images affect us in curious ways. Things like Scooby Doo episodes, fifties educational hygiene films, and bad girls in trouble movies, they were shallowly designed for surface appeal and quick consumption. However, these images were part of a shared experience and became imbued with the force of that, as well as whatever personal electricity they managed to pick up along the way. As such, I would suggest that they are like magic sigils, almost shorthand forms that can manipulate forces in us that we do not fully understand.
You might laugh at the ideas I suggest in the paragraph above, but I’m betting that Luke Geddes would not. Judging from I am a Magical Teenage Princess, I think Geddes knows well the energy locked inside icons such as Betty Page, Papa Smurf, and beach blanket films. After all, he makes such excellent use of such as base materials for the stories in this collection.
For instance, consider the story “Betty and Veronica.” Given what I’ve already said, I think you know what Betty and Veronica we are talking about. Explanation is unneeded. To the contrary, floodgates of response inside you have likely already swung open. But, to continue, Betty slaves over sewing a dress in order to dress identically to Veronica at the school dance and antagonize her. Subsequently:
Betty shakes free and lets Veronica chase her out into the halls and into the girls’ restroom. Once inside, Veronica checks under the stalls to make sure they’re alone and Betty locks the door.
They kiss. Like always, it’s different than with boys: wetter and softer, almost- like marshmallows soaked in hot chocolate. Where a few minutes ago Veronica pulled at Betty’s hair, now she runs her fingertips along a loose strand. Betty, suddenly ravenous, clenches Veronica’s hips and leads her to the sink. Veronica sits on the porcelain edge, letting her high heels drop off her feet. Betty draws her hands up Veronica’s thighs while outside the boys holler and pound on the door.
One thing that should be evident from this passage is that Geddes is not just making cheap use of our nostalgia by way of these cherished characters. This isn’t just simple parody or parade, but rather a starting point for serious emotional exploration. Geddes isn’t just satisfying a tawdry underground comic fantasy that Betty and Veronica are more into each other than Archie and Reggie; he actually moves these two-dimensional cartoons into the multi-faceted experience of the real human world: desires and pain beyond the original formula. Continue reading