“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”


Photo: Elvis Presley reading ARCHIE comic book on train (July 4, 1956) by Alfred Wertheimer, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Elvis Presley started his phenomenal career in 1954, and two years later had his first number-one hit, “Heartbreak Hotel.” RCA released the record  in January 1956, but a few months later, it appears, Elvis was still able to travel by train without getting mobbed. In the photo above, the soon-to-be-icon relaxes with his favorite reading material, an ARCHIE comic.


I am in no way criticizing Elvis’s taste in reading material — in my younger years, I, too, read ARCHIE comics during my annual train journey from Chicago to St. Louis to visit relatives. (For the record, I identified with Betty, not Veronica.) And I will agree with the Maya Angelou quote at the top of the post — reading comics did help me form a habit of reading.

But there’s a whole other subcategory here — reading material suitable for trains, buses, and planes. Of course, with all the distractions and interruptions during public journeying, you want to read something easy to follow — so why not an ARCHIE comic, even for someone Elvis’s age (he was 21 when the top photo was shot)?

Illustration: Cover of ARCHIE comic. May-June 1956 issue.