Archie New Look Series Volume 3: Breakup Blues

Archie New Look Series Vol. 3Archie New Look Series Volume 3: Moose & Midge - Breakup Blues
Written by: Melanie J. Morgan
Illustrated by: Al Milgrom, Tod Smith
Publisher: Archie Comics
Format: Softcover, 6 x 9, 112, Full Color, $10.95
ISBN: 978-1-87979-445-0
Lesson plan by Dr. Katie Monnin

A modern retake on the original Archie comic book series that originated in the early 1940s, this new Archie series places contemporary students right back at Riverdale High. In this particular Archie New Look Series, Book 3 (Moose & Midge: "Breakup Blues"), readers find the gang conflicted over a breakup between Moose and Midge. Is Midge simply dating other guys to make Moose jealous? Is Moose too jealous when Midge talks to other guys? Who is over-reacting? Thanks to this Archie New Look Series, contemporary students get a chance not only to meet the gang from Riverdale High, but also weigh in on the boys verse girls motif that continues to drive the series.

Due to its focus on gender issues, I find my teacher-self wanting to suggest that this graphic novel be taught alongside traditional, canonical literary selections that also have a strong gender focus. For example, Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice would be an excellent choice (more pairings are listed below). However, I do not recommend that this new Archie series be paired with the traditional, print-text literary format of Pride and Prejudice. Instead, I suggest that this new Archie graphic novel be paired with the re-envisioned graphic novel format of Pride and Prejudice, adapted by Nancy Butler and Hugo Petrus; both contemporary graphic novels and re-envisioned graphic novels that focus on gender are suggested below. With a focus on visual and print-text gender expression, teachers can focus on how each graphic novel communicates meaning and/or characterization. How do the words in the story communicate ideas about male and/or female roles? How do the images communicate ideas about male and/or female roles?

English Language Arts Elements of Story

Plot:  Moose and Midge's breakup  

Setting: Riverdale High and surrounding community

Characters: Moose, Midge, Archie, Betty, Judy, Jug, Dilly, Reggie, Turner Twins, Ron, Ethel, Mrs. Klump, Veronica

Themes: Gender, Relationships, Communication, Loyalty, Friendship

Graphic Novel Pairing Suggestions: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, adapted by Nancy Butler and Hugo Petrus (Marvel Comics), The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Roy Thomas & Sebastian Fiumara (Marvel Comics), Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, adapted by Jen Green and John Stokes (Classical Comics), Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, adapted by John McDonald and Will Volley (Classical Comics). For High School readers: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon), Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (Houghton Mifflin)

Some Teaching Recommendations For Middle School & High School English Language Arts

Suggested Alignment to the IRA /NCTE Standard(s):*

- standard #s correspond to the numbers used by IRA/NCTE

1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. 

2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.

3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate and appreciate texts.

11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.*

Suggested Lesson Ideas:

  • In reference to IRA/NCTE Standards 1 – 3, ask students to read both graphic novels and then work through a Venn diagram reading strategy. Draw a Venn diagram on the board and label each circle with a title from one of the graphic novels. And even though the circles alone stand for the two graphic novels, the overlap between the two circles contains its own significance as well. The overlap between the two circles serves as a space for comparing the two graphic novels. 
  • After you have introduced the Venn diagram reading strategy and asked students to draw their own Venn diagrams themselves, ask students to specifically think about gender issues from each story. Instruct students to write differences in the individual circle space that do not overlap with the other circle. In the overlapping space, ask students to write similarities between the two graphic novels.

  • After giving students enough time, discuss as a class.

  • In terms of IRA/NCTE Standards 5, 11, and 12, and continuing to focus on gender issues, ask students to write/draw a new story that includes characters from both graphic novels. The goal of this activity is to have students not only demonstrate comprehension of the two graphic novel stories, but also participate as knowledgeable, reflective and creative members of a variety of literacy communities.

*NCTE/IRA. (1996). Standards for the English Language Arts. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

Katie Monnin, PhD, is an assistant professor of literacy at the University of North Florida and author of Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom (2010) from Maupin House. To learn more about Teaching Graphic Novels or Katie Monnin, please go to this link: http://www.maupinhouse.com/monnin.php.