It’s Splitsville For Archie And Betty In Our Exclusive Look At Archie #1
After months of anticipation, today (July 8) finally marks the release of Archie #1, the first issue in a brand-new rebooted version of the classic Riverdale hero. With gorgeous art by Fiona Staples (Saga) and a refreshing new story by Mark Waid (Daredevil), this might be a different looking and feeling Archie Andrews than you think you know, but it’s sure to delight fans who grew up with the comics as well.
Below, we spoke with Mark Waid and Fiona Staples about what it was like give Archie and his friends their new much-needed makeover, and what their dream “Archie” crossover would be if they got the chance:
MTV News: What’s the trickiest part of updating a franchise that everyone assumes they already know inside and out?
Mark Waid (writer): Finding a new side and new depth to familiar characters. Fortunately, Archie and his gang are perfect for this — I really do see things in all of them I never saw before whenever I spend even ten minutes thinking about them in a 21st century context.
MTV: One thing that struck me while reading is how great the fashion is in this issue. Was it a challenge to update the gang’s collective fashion sense?
Fiona Staples (artist): I think the comics have always embraced the fashion trends of the era. If you flip through a digest, it’s immediately obvious which decade each story is from — they’re full of ’60s shift dresses, ’70s bellbottoms and shag haircuts, ’80s jean jackets. A lot of the gags revolve around the gang’s embarrassing experiments with perms or punk style. So it wasn’t much of a stretch to put them in stuff you could buy at the mall today.
Does putting the characters in trendy styles make the strip look dated in a few years? Yes. But that’s why it’s so fun to look back at those decades-old digests!
MTV: I also loved how diverse and interesting the background characters in every scene were. Can you talk a little about what goes into making those kinds of crowd scenes so engaging?
Staples: I was given a comprehensive character guide to Riverdale High, and discovered there is a surprisingly diverse student body — a lot of these characters are new, and I wasn’t aware of them before! I tried to work them in wherever possible, because I’ve always loved the supporting cast like Chuck and Nancy and Cricket O’Dell. I wanted there to be a few recognizable faces in the background rather than just generic filler. When I am just drawing random kids, I try to include different body shapes and personal styles. Our awesome colourist, Andre Szymanowicz, has great attention to detail and provided us with a range of skin and hair tones.
MTV: How much free reign did you have with the characters you chose to introduce in this issue?
Waid: Free rein, but they are established characters — I felt it was very important to get them on stage to mix the series up culturally and get away from the idea that all the “core” characters are suburban white kids. That’s part of the mission.
MTV: Obviously the biggest thing people were talking about when the new #1 covers were first released is how hot Archie is. What did you two think of that reaction? Was it cool or kinda strange from your perspective?
Waid: It was very cool. I love, love, love all the various artists’ takes on Archie and how honestly and sincerely every artist took the challenge–to keep Archie recognizable while at the same time make him more contemporary.
Staples: When Archie publisher Mike Pellerito hired me, his only instruction was, “Make Archie cute! Make him look like someone girls might actually fight over.” So I did my best!
MTV: Archie’s also known for the incredible weird crossovers — “Archie vs. The Punisher,” “Archie vs. Predator,” “Sharknado,” “Glee,” the list goes on. What’s your dream “Archie” crossover?
Staples: I’d like to see their superhero personas — Pureheart, Superteen, Captain Hero — transfer into Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
Waid: Archie and “Doctor Who” writes itself.
MTV: Which character are you both the most excited to see people embrace in a new light?
Staples: Betty, actually! I’ve always been Team Veronica, but Mark has given Betty some interesting new dimensions. She’s not just the perfect girl-next-door who can fix a car and also lead the cheerleading squad. Well, she is, but she has a more complex inner life now… maybe even flaws! To me, she feels a lot more real than she did before.
Waid: Jughead, by a mile. We’ve created a backstory for him of which I’m really proud — a good insight, I hope, into just why he’s so aloof and weird. Issue two!