The Comic Book Convention Season of 2019 is very quickly coming up. I’ve got a few appearances lined up and I’ll be posting them on my Events page very soon. Please keep checking back for more updates. As I prepare for the upcoming tour of shows, it occurs to me that I’m often asked many of the same questions at these shows. I thought it would be fun to list the most commonly asked questions here and take a look at them.
- Betty Or Veronica?
Hands down, this is probably the single most asked question that I get anywhere. I usually say “Betty” just because that one seems to be the biggest crowd pleaser. In the “Old Days” when I was drawing for Archie Comics, my answer usually reflected whatever story I was working on at the moment. For example, the whole time I worked on the Life With Archie magazine, where I drew the half of the book where Archie was married to Veronica, I used to answer the question with “Veronica.”
- Did you create Archie?
No. Archie was created in 1941 which means to have created Archie, I’d probably have to be in my nineties at least. A variation on this question is when someone clearly in their seventies or eighties comes up to my table and asks, “I read Archie when I was a kid. Did you draw those?” Once again, I’m not a million years old but questions like these sure make me think I must be aging pretty badly!
- How long have you been drawing Archie?
I drew for Archie Comics for a total of twenty-two years. My tenure spans the years of 1994 thru 2016. During that time, I drew assorted stories for Archie, Archie & Friends, Betty & Veronica Spectacular, Sabrina The Teen Age Witch, Archie’s Weird Mysteries, the Life With Archiemagazine, Archie Vs Predator, and a ton of digest stories. Along the way, I wrote many of those stories too which brings me to the next question…
- Do you come up with the stories too?
Sometimes. When I started at Archie Comics, I started strictly as a penciller but very quickly, Managing Editor Victor Gorelick encouraged me to write so as time went on, I wrote more and more of the stories I was drawing. Occasionally, I also wrote some of the gags used for the covers. Towards the end of my time at Archie, I was writing most of the stories I was drawing for the digest books. Nowadays I co-write Die Kitty Diealong with my co-creator, Dan Parent, and I often write some of the stories I draw for Dynamite Comics such as Boo: The World’s Cutest Dogand Animal Jam.
- Are you the only one who draws Archie?
No. As I said above, Archie is over seventy-five years old. Over all those years, Archie Comics has employed a number of different artists to draw the Archie characters including Bob Montana, Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey, Stan Goldberg, Dan Parent, and many many more!
- Is there an Archie office somewhere? Or do you work at home?
Yes to both of those questions. Archie Comics maintains their offices in Westchester County, NY, but as a freelancer, I always did my work at home. Since I’m based in New Jersey not too far from Archie’s offices, one day a week, I used to visit the Archie offices to deliver my work and pick up new assignments. I normally made a day of my trips to the office. I’d bring work with me, grab an empty table in the art department and sit down and work right there. Often times, my editors would have projects that they needed turned around fast like covers. I’d sit down and do two or three covers in one of these visits.
- What do you think of the Archie reboots?
Admittedly I’m not the most neutral guy when it comes to this question, but whenever I’m asked this, I do try to answer as an objective fan of both the comics genre and the specific brand of Archie. Speaking strictly as a lifelong Archie fan, the reboot does not meet my Archie needs. It comes across as a teen serial with some attempts at snarky humor. The slapstick, the surrealism, and even the satire, loaded in the original Archie comics seems to be absent from this version. I’ve tried to appreciate the reboot on a number of levels but its not funny enough to be enjoyed as traditional Archie entertainment and it’s also not sophisticated or substantial enough to satisfy as a young adult dramedy. It really is a very different product from the traditional Archie fare and it really is aimed at a different audience. Put most simply… It’s not for me.
- What do you think of Riverdale?
Hoo boy! Already I can tell that even if that show stopped production immediately, I’m still going to be fielding this question for many, many years to come. I still get asked about Archie”s Weird Mysteries and its been seventeen years since that show was being produced! To be very honest, I don’t watch Riverdale and I’ve watched only a couple of scenes here and there. I’ve caught enough to know its not for me. This isn’t any sort of evaluation on the quality of the show. That’s a whole other discussion. Like the rebooted Archie comic books, Riverdale is not aimed at me and its not the sort of show I would watch for my own personal entertainment. The show borrows a few familiar comic book names, but again like the rebooted comics, it really does not meet my Archie needs. My students who do watch the show, though, love to keep me updated with weekly re-enactments in class… plus commentary!… and I do enjoy those!
- Do you ever get sick of drawing Archie?
Honestly, no. I never did. There may have been times when I was up at three in the morning trying to wrap up a story to hand in the next day when all I wanted to do was go to bed, but generally, it was a pleasant job. I enjoyed the character and had fun bringing his stories to life.
- Do you draw Sonic? Or just Archie…?
I guess now that Archie no longer has the license to publish Sonic the Hedgehog comic books, I’m going to be getting this question a whole lot less frequently. For many years, though, this was a popular one! The answer is I never drew Sonic beyond a few sample pages that Sega passed on. I still have those pages. I guess maybe I could post them someday for laughs.
- Didn’t Archie die?
Its been a few years now since Archie Comics wrapped up the Life With Archie magazine by killing Archie himself, but I still get asked this one. I usually will answer it depending on how I’m feeling. If I don’t feel like getting into it, I usually just answer with the quip, “Yeah, but he got better.” If the person asking really presses it and makes me go into detail then I have to say, “Yeah, but it was really the adult Archie where he was married to Betty and Veronica in two different parallel universes…” Sometimes they can wrap their heads around that and sometimes it just confuses them even more.
Usually the question comes from someone only marginally aware of Archie who may have skimmed a fleeting headline about the death of Archie online somewhere. Most of the time the question comes with the expectation that Archie stayed dead and that there were no more Archie comic books. Actually a contender for the Occasionally Asked Questions list is “Do they still make Archie comic books?”
The whole “Death Of Archie” situation reminds me of an incident that happened a number of years earlier. I guess this must have been around the time Marvel Comics made a big production out of killing Captain America. In response to this, a particular comic shop owner posted a satirical video parodying the death of Cap with the mock announcement that Archie Comics was going to be killing Archie. At the time, this was unthinkable and therein lied the gag. Archie Comics, which was under a much more conservative management at the time was not amused. I’m not exactly sure what steps Archie Comics actually took, but they did make it known to this person that they did not enjoy his video and they would appreciate it if he took it down. Their thinking at the time was that readers might miss the satirical aspect of the video and believe that Archie Comics really was killing their flagship character and by extension, ending his comic books. Ironically enough, a few years later, when Archie Comics, now under new management, really did kill Archie, this was exactly what many fans actually did believe!
As a side note, in response to Archie’s request, the comic shop owner posted a series of angry videos about how Archie Comics was attempting to censor and strong arm him. I have no idea how this whole episode resolved itself or if those videos are still on youtube. Someone please do a check and let the rest of us know in the Comments below.
- Didn’t Archie get married?
This question also usually comes from people who may have heard a random headline about the “Archie Gets Married” storylines without really paying attention to it. Once again, there is the expectation that the story led to a permanent change in the character and that he remains married. This one is also sometimes accompanied with some disappointment. Again, the headline skimmers rarely read the actual comic books they seem to complain about. They read that Archie got married and they may have read far enough to learn that he’d married Veronica and that’s it. This is often as far as they go and if these casual fans had always been rooting for Betty to end up with Archie, then they leave the skimmed article unhappily. They never learn that Archie had FIRST married Veronica and then reset reality to marry Betty in an alternate timeline. Depending on my mood when I’m approached with this one, I might explain it to them. Usually, I shrug it off with a joke.
Sometimes this one is also followed up with the question, “Isn’t Archie too young to get married? Isn’t he only in high school?” In the “Archie Gets Married,” the Archie gang is somewhere in their twenties. I don’t remember if it was clarified exactly how many years had gone by since they were all in high school, but it was definitely not a teen age wedding. I also clarify this if I feel like it. Sometimes I just let the fan believe that Archie got married on Prom Night.
There you have it, Everybody. My Top Ten grew into a Top Twelve but I thought it better to cover everything while I’m at this. Maybe this year instead of answering these questions, I’ll just direct people here. Did I miss any questions? Did my answers inspire other questions? Please let me know in the Comments section below!
Thanks, Everybody! See you on the road!