Archie Andrews Finally Graduates From Riverdale High?!?

ArchieGraduatesProposal1

—Here is a cover sketch for my proposed storyline where long-time high school student, Archie Andrews finally graduates from Riverdale High!

Around 2009, Archie Comics was undergoing some pretty heavy changes. In his own comic, Archie had married BOTH Betty AND Veronica! In the Veronica solo series, my friend and colleague… and future Die Kitty Die collaborator… Dan Parent introduced his history-making character, Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in Archie comics. We had just expanded the Archie cast with the New School storyline. All of a sudden, it seemed like there was a new wave of creative freedom at Archie Comics where ideas previously thought unthinkable were now fair game and very possible.

In the midst of these new possibilities, I decided to pitch an idea for a storyline in which Archie Andrews FINALLY graduates from Riverdale High. Bear with me. It’s been about seven years and I’m trying to recall as much as I can of this proposal from memory.

Archie, Jughead, and Betty were all going to graduate from Riverdale High and be accepted at the local Riverdale University. Meanwhile Veronica and Reggie were going to have enrolled and been accepted at a nearby, very prestigious university which was basically Riverdale’s “Ivy League” college where all the snobby rich kids go. Of course, rich twins, Cheryl and Jason were going to be students there.

As everyone makes their plans for college, Veronica sees Archie and Betty making plans to take classes together, join clubs together, and stay at dorms close to each other. Veronica begins to fear that she’ll lose Archie to Betty forever. She cries to her father and gets herself transferred to Riverdale U.

In the meantime, Reggie’s dad loses his job and can no longer afford to send Reggie to the prestigious school (or whatever I was going to call it) and reluctantly ends up enrolling at Riverdale U.

I was also going to have Mr. Weatherbee take a job at Riverdale U as the school’s new dean. Henceforth, he was to become Dean Weatherbee. I hadn’t decided yet whether or not Dean Weatherbee was going to hire his old Riverdale High colleagues, Miss Grundy and Professor Flutesnoot, to teach at R.U. but I think I was leaning towards creating a faculty of original characters for R.U.

There may have been other details but this is what I’m recalling as I type this. Don’t judge these ideas too harshly. A lot of this was right off the cuff and pretty raw. I never had the chance to really let these ideas brew so I know I wasn’t necessarily spinning pure gold here. They were the broad strokes of an unrefined, very young concept that had yet to be really kicked around. I pitched this as a possible two or four-issue storyline in the regular Archie title with the possibility of spinning off into an Archie At Riverdale U title about a college-age Archie and friends. This wasn’t intended to displace the regular Archie title or to “age” the regular Archie gang. I saw this as a “continuity” that could run concurrently with the regular Archie titles in the same way Little Archie and the later Life With Archie existed at the same time as the regular high school themed Archie titles existed.

I submitted my pitch and as is often the case with Archie Comics, I didn’t hear anything. I finally asked about it and I was told they didn’t want to do it. It was that simple. There really wasn’t any more to it. They just didn’t want to have Archie graduate from high school.

A couple of years later, though, they had Archie get shot and killed.

Here is a proposed sketch for a possible ad or promotion piece for the story:

ArchieGraduatesProposal2

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23 comments on “Archie Andrews Finally Graduates From Riverdale High?!?”

  1. Korey Watkins Reply

    I like the concept of this! Truth be told, this would be awesome to be done now in one of the digests. Not that the digests are really going to change anytime soon, but…

  2. fernando Reply

    I might’ve dusted this idea off and tried to pitch it again but the past couple of years Archie has definitely NOT been interested in anything that didn’t have some sort of “big name” attached to it. To be honest… and I know I’ve got a horse in the race, but speaking as objectively as possible… I find that to be publishing by picking the low-hanging fruit… and HORRIBLY short-sighted. As for the digests, I think we’re going to see a change in those books VERY soon… and not for the better!

  3. fernando Reply

    Ha! Thanks, Kassandra! Will you be at TorontoComicon next month? I haven’t posted my connection appearances yet, but Dan and I will be kicking off our Die Kitty Die World Tour 2016 there!

  4. Adam Alamo Reply

    It sounds like a terrific idea to me. I’m depressed now with the state of it all. The feelings were slow to build, but here they are.

  5. fernando Reply

    I appreciate the sympathy, Adam. I don’t mean to bring you down. The Fans Of Archie Facebook page is still a lot of fun and we still have a good seventy-five years of good Archie material to talk about. I plan to keep participating over there and to keep posting my inside stories like this one. Hopefully that will give us all lots to talk about!

  6. Stephanie Reply

    This would’ve been a storyline that I would’ve loved to read! It’s a shame they never allowed it and yet they let sharknado happen..

    • fernando Reply

      Ha! I thought Sharknado was a lot of fun… but I admit I’m more a fan of my friend, Dan Parent, than I am of the Sharknado movies.

      I haven’t really mourned this idea a lot, but I do think it was a missed opportunity for the always-publicity starved Archie Comics. I also would’ve enjoyed writing and drawing it. Plus I won’t deny that it probably would’ve elevated my own personal stock.

  7. Glenda Vick Reply

    Great idea! Would be fun. After 75 years of reading about the gang in high school, situations in college would be interesting. Like Saved by the Bell the College Years. Why can’t we have a variety and have both? I can’t believe they killed Archie!

    • fernando Reply

      Ugh! The Death Of Archie… It’s not a commentary on the writing of that story… written by the great Paul Kupperberg… but I just don’t recall that experience with fondness. I promised I’d post the behind-the-scenes story about that one. I’ll still do it. Stay tuned!

    • fernando Reply

      I should make a more formal announcement, but to catch everyone up…

      After twenty-two years of fairly steady work at Archie Comics, I was told last month that there wouldn’t be anymore work for me for the foreseeable future. As a freelancer, I can’t exactly be fired, but there wouldn’t be anymore work… and more importantly… MONEY… for me. I handed in my last story, “Happiness Is A Clean Puppy,” which I also wrote and which will appear in Archie Digest #269, and that ended twenty-two years of drawing for Archie.

      I’ll elaborate more on this elsewhere, but your question was specifically about the digests. As I last understood it, the digests were going to be coming out one a week. That means you would see four digests a month and fifty-two of them throughout 2016. Each of those digests would still have ONE new, original five-page story. My understanding is that there would no longer be any new six, eleven, or twelve page stories for these new digests. (As a personal observation, that strict five page limit on the new material is a strong symptom of serious money-crunching going on!)

      Will Archie continue the digests? I don’t know. The digests, whether Archie Comics wants to admit it or not, remains their biggest money-making product. I would imagine they should be investing MORE into those books rather than less, but of course I don’t make those calls. I don’t know where they will go from here or if or for how long they will stick with the plan I described above. Archie is notorious for changing their minds a million times!

      As for me… I’m out.

      • Dennis Reply

        Hi Fernando — When I last checked, I think the schedule (as declared) for the digests called for 48 issues per year total (and you are correct, that would be 4 weeks x 12 months = 48), but as you can see, because there are actually 52 weeks in a year, that would involve 4 skip weeks spaced out over the course of a year. Now I can’t remember whether I made that calculation before or after the the news that the frequency of ARCHIE’S FUNHOUSE and JUGHEAD AND ARCHIE digests was being reduced (I can’t remember now if it’s 5x or 6x per year, but formerly when 2015 began it was 10x per year).

        • Dennis Reply

          No wait, I just redid that in my head. I think it’s Archie’s Funhouse, B & V Friends, and Jughead and Archie that are all 6x per year, so that’s 18 issues, and the other three (Archie, Betty and Veronica, World of Archie) are all 10x per year, so that’s another 30 issues, for a total of 48. Unless they reduce some of the remaining titles’ frequencies again.

          • fernando

            I’ll trust your numbers, Dennis. It sounds like you’re paying closer attention than I am.

            I think last year there were about sixty or so digests. A number of them were the thicker “Jumbo” digests. The policy on the Jumbos was that they used to get ten or twelve page stories. Now this year while the number of digests overall were going to decrease, the number of Jumbos were going to be increased. Therefore the actual overall page count for new material would remain about the same.

            I can’t say anymore if this is still the plan or the policy regarding the Jumbos and additional story pages.

          • Deb

            The remaining four digests to fill out 52 books per year are most likely the Sonic Super Digest, which publishes…four issues per year.

  8. daren Reply

    “Will Archie continue the digests?”

    Fernando do you mean “will they continue the new stories in the digests?” or “will they continue printing digests at all?”

    • fernando Reply

      Daren, the digests continue to be Archie Comic’s economic backbone. They are still by far Archie’s best selling product. I suspect they absolutely will continue to publish the digests in a print format. I do however question whether or not they will continue to feature new material in those digests. A couple of years ago, Archie removed all new material from the digests including the covers! I thought that was terrible. Aside from the loss of all of that work, I thought those digests sporting old Dan DeCarlo covers looked horribly dated. This is no comment on the covers themselves. DeCarlo’s covers were of course beautiful but even with new coloring, they made the digests look like thirty year old books. I don’t know how these books performed but after about a year, new material was returned to the books… including thankfully new original covers. Ever since, there have been rumors that the original stories would once again be eliminated from the digests, a terrible, terrible mistake if it ever happened. If it did go down, however, it would be a tragedy but it would not be a complete shock.

      • daren Reply

        They would be completely shooting themselves in the foot if that happened, De pointed out on the board that the digests need a constant stream of new material. There are only so many updating revisions they can make (and YES to new covers for the digests, it looked bad to fiddle with Dan DeCarlo’s art then reuse it). Classic Archie is the main continuity and if that stops rigor mortis will set into Archie. 😛 Sorry.

        • fernando Reply

          I’ve always felt that economics might force price increases on the digests, but you always have to make those books worth the readers’ while. You have to give them their money’s worth. New material is a must or those books are doomed.

  9. Dennis Reply

    It’s too bad they didn’t review your idea again (or you could have tried to re-pitch it) when they were approaching the final issue of Archie (and to me, it IS the final issue, and will remain so until I see an issue #667). Seems like a nice miniseries showing them sailing off into their eventual adulthood (fill in the blanks yourself between here and LIFE WITH ARCHIE) would have been a nice way to wrap things up. I appreciated the “artist’s jam” concept of #666, but I thought storywise it was a little bit of a weak sendoff.

    • fernando Reply

      It was nice to be included in that final issue, but the Classic Archie title should have continued even if it were published at a loss. Let the costs be absorbed by the digests were the new material from the regular book would later be reprinted. Archie Comics’ flagship title should ALWAYS be a classic Archie book!

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