28 November 2015

Archie Across the Globe

This week the New York Times ran a profile of Ahmad Saeed, a bookseller in Islamabad, Pakistan.

He inherited the business from his father this spring, and one of his first tasks as owner was accepting visits from “elderly men” who had come to apologize for shoplifting in their youth.

According to the Times of New York:
One of the penitent former book thieves who dropped in was Suleman Khan, the vice chancellor of Iqra University, in Islamabad.

“He came to say that when he was a child, 6 years old or so, he stole an Archie comic book and my father saw him,” Mr. Saeed said. “He said he was afraid he was going to get slapped, but my father said: ‘This is good that you like books. So every day you can take a book but keep it in mint condition and return it when you’re done so I can still sell it.’”

And then the vice chancellor said, “Everything that I am now, I owe to your father.”
That story seems remarkable in many ways, not least in how a comic story about teenagers inspired by life in Depression-era Haverhill, Massachusetts, could speak so powerfully to a six-year-old in Islamabad decades ago.

But Dr. Khan clearly isn’t the only Archie fan in that region of the globe. In 2014 a company executive told the Times of India that India was full of loyal readers. Riverdale is now home to characters of South Asian heritage, such as aspiring filmmaker Raj Patel, and Archie visited Mumbai in 2011, falling for Bollywood star Amisha Mehta.

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