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An Odd Tempest in a Teapot

This whole backlash against the different style of art in Betty and Veronica Double Digest just seems so bizarre to me.

bvdd151.jpg

I mean, it is clearly stated that it is only going to be this one title by Archie (Betty and Veronica Double Digest). Meanwhile, Archie has had the Sabrina comic book drawn in a totally different style for almost two years now, and no one seems to mind that, do they? Has it affected the main line of comics at all? Heck, this change isn’t even in a regular comic title – it’s only in a digest! It’s not even in one of the NORMAL digests, but one of the double ones!

Johanna Draper Carlson had an interesting link to a blog by “Betty” which is hosted by Archie Comics, and in it, “Betty” rails against the change even!! Yes, even fictional characters are freaking out about this tempest in a teapot!

This is such a bizarre non-story. In fact, the REACTION to the event is much more of a story than the actual event itself! The whole “Betty” thing (where she complains about the changes, then has her blog moved from being an “official” blog to being an independent blog hosted by Archie Comics) is much more interesting than Archie doing a series of comics where the Archie gang are drawn in a different style of artwork.

That all being said, I am not a fan of the artwork shown on this cover. The concept I think is a good one, but that cover is not all that great.

30 Comments

I think it was Mike Sterling (www.progressiveruin.com) who posted some excerpts from a message board discussion with people complaining about this. It was hilarious. I doubt any of these guys even read Archie comics regularly, but they were going on about raped childhoods and everything. People are resistant to any sort of change.

My favorite is when people call the drawings things like “anorexic whores.” What the fuck? You do realize that some people aren’t fat, right? Some people are actually thin and that’s OK! Jesus H!

As Matt said, I wonder how many people actually DO read Archie comics anymore. Anyone care to own up to it?

I know my kids love ‘em.

I think it’s about equal parts:

1. People not having all the facts (somewhat analogous to, say, the “civilians” who thought DC was really killing Superman, or that the Robin they killed was the Dick Grayson everybody knew and not the punk kid replacement who nobody liked.

2. The always prevalent rule, People on the Internet Love Hyperbolically Bitching About Stuff (see “Lucas, George.”)

And I think some people instinctively thought “OMG, they’re turning them into Bratz!” without actually looking carefully at the picture or comparing it to that.

The above picture is *less* sexualized than the “classic” Betty and Veronica, and if anything, they look younger to me (like, say, 13 or 14 as opposed to the classic models who look 16-18ish to me.)

(Parenthetical question: how old *are* they supposed to be? They’re normally shown driving cars and such, right? Thus implying they’re at least 16?)

I’ve only seen that cover. Are there any pictures online of what the rest of the gang looks like?

As Matt said, I wonder how many people actually DO read Archie comics anymore. Anyone care to own up to it?

I glance at one once in a while, because, as Joe mentions, the books are a hit with students. But it’s not the art that sells it for them, it’s the subject matter. Kids like reading about other kids. Same reason The Stereos is the most popular book I’ve ever had in my classroom.

I can’t fault the company for wanting to shake it up. I’m not crazy about THIS cover, myself, and I am wondering how they missed the manga train. If it was in a manga-fied art style they couldn’t keep it on the shelves. It’s not like they don’t have artists that know this; Kathleen Webb was showing my kids her manga samples when we saw her at the show a while back.

All those purists complaining about losing the ‘traditional’ art style should bear in mind that’s not the original Archie style, either. Dan DeCarlo originated it because he didn’t want to draw it like Bob Montana did, he wanted to draw it his own way. The change was so popular it became the ‘house’ style.

Here’s an example of Montana’s style. Note how horse-faced Archie looks. That’s how Montana designed him. DeCarlo changed it to what we know now.

I get the double digests every month. I enjoy the simple, fun stories, and the quick read aspect. As much as I can enjoy the complexity of, say, Infinite Crisis, there’s something to be said for something you can shove in a coat pocket or a purse and read when you’ve a few minutes, knowing it will be mildly fun. (This is also why I like playing the old arcade games. 10 minutes of Space Invaders or Pac-Man, I’m happy, I can walk away.)

I’m not too thrilled with the image change, because it seems too much at once. They have a classic look which works. However, they’ve also revived “Katy Keene”, where the ‘realistic’ style thrives.

We’ll really see how it does when subscription time comes…

SanctumSanctorumComix

December 26, 2006 at 8:27 am

I don’t think it’s that big a deal, really.
But ONLY because it’s just supposed to be the one title.

Not that I have any vested interest in Archie and the gang, but having icons drawn in a similar manner thru the decades is a nice thing.
It’s a way of preserving something that can be shared from generation to generation.
(Yes, I know the style changed at least once or twice before, but not this much.)

That said, I really do think having at least this ONE title drawn in a “realistic” style is a good idea.

It might pull in the odd new reader.
Much like the “freaky manga” style that they are/were using for SABRINA.

Sadly, I’ve never been a big fan of Steven Butler’s or even Rich Butler’s art style (are they related?).
But, it’s better to have him working on an Archie digest than something like…
“Civil, Infinite ‘mageddon”.

~P~
P-TOR

I can remember people whining about Sabrina’s new look when it was first announced, but it went away pretty quickly. Probably because none of the people involved in the arguement even read the book.

I’m curious to see what Jughead looks like now.

SanctumSanctorumComix

December 26, 2006 at 12:31 pm

Oops… I referred to Rich Butler, when I meant JEFF Butler.

I must have confused Rich BUCKLER in my head, not that I recall his work.
Unless there IS a Rich Butler as well.

Gah!

Sorry.

~P~
P-TOR

My favorite is when people call the drawings things like “anorexic whores.” What the fuck? You do realize that some people aren’t fat, right? Some people are actually thin and that’s OK! Jesus H!

Oh man, yes!!!

I totally was freaked out by that, too!

Anorexic whores?!?! Seriously?!?!

Oh, and if I could find links to the sample pages online, I’d link them for you, but I couldn’t (a cool point to anyone who COULD!).

But from what I saw, Archie looks pretty darn normal. I don’t recall if we saw Jughead yet.

They look like whores of a healthy body weight to me.

By the by, from a business standpoint, the changes would have to be a HUGE success to merit them making sweeping changes, as remember, a big part of Archie Comics’ business is the digests, which succeed almost TOTALLY on the concept of the “house style,” where you can print a comic from the 90s with a comic from the 80s with a comic from the 60s with a comic from the 50s with a comic from the 90s and no one can really notice.

You start doing serialized stories with a totally different art style, and that becomes impossible to do.

Most importantly, what does John Byrne think about the art change?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

December 27, 2006 at 1:41 am

“I’ve only seen that cover. Are there any pictures online of what the rest of the gang looks like?”

http://www.newsarama.com/Archie/Archiepage.jpg

and it’s from this article on newsarama.com:
http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=95140

FunkyGreenJerusalem

December 27, 2006 at 1:42 am

Why is my comment awaiting moderation?

And do I actually get a cool point for finding somthing on the front page of newsarama?

I think anything with a link in it often goes to moderation, as it thinks it is spam.

Speaking of spam, I should probably make an entry on this, but it feels weird giving an entry to this topic, but we have been getting hit by a TON of spam recently. Like well over 500 spam comments a day, which is insane.

The problem with that, though, is that while I flip through the posts caught by the spam blocker to see if anyone’s post was caught accidentally, only 150 posts are displayed – which is usually fine, except when we get hit by MORE than 150 spam comments in one day, which has been happening a lot more frequently.

Therefore, when I delete the spam comments, I may be inadvertently deleting some actual comments. So, to those of you out there who do not see your comments pop up, well, sorry about the inconvenience!!

I’ve seen the one ‘inner page’ of the new look. Is it just me, or are the heads a little too big, and their necks a little to thin?

And who is the brunette supposed to be? The reactions of the two girls makes me think Veronica, but the short hair makes me think Midge. Except Midge never moons over Archie, and Veronica never has short hair (unless for a really short story about hairstyle).

Oh, almost forgot. Someone asked about the age of the characters. Based on the comic, they’re supposed to be 17-18. They can drive, and they’re generally referred to as seniors in high school. The rare times they’re supposed to be younger (a story about junior high), they look younger in the art. (Not quite so built, for example).

Which spam blocker are you using, Brian? I’m using Akismet right now and I can only see 50 spam posts per page. It’s caught something like 7000 bits of spam in under 30 days, so you can see how that is a problem.

I read Archie comics on a fairly regular basis; SABRINA every month, as well as 2-3 of the various other titles/digests.

I think this is a good move, particularly to longer, more complex stories. The Archie line has made itself too innocuous over the last 10-15 years; read some of the classic collections from the 1950s and 60s to see how Archie and the gang had a lot more depth and variety when they started.

BTW, I think it’s Midge in the sample art, too, but I don’t think she’s necessarily reacting to Archie. Also, it’s not necessarily an actual story page but a trial page to see what the characters would look like.

BTW, to steal no thunder from Dan DeCarlo, Bob Montana was primarily responsible for the redesign of the Archie characters from their inception to the early 1950s when they finally began to look like the characters we’re familiar with today. DeCarlo added other characters to the cast and further refined Montana’s style (and, ironically, made it easier to imitate in the process).

I find the notion that Betty and Veronica “themselves” are upset at the upcoming makeover to actually be kinda funny. It’s like that Daffy Duck cartoon where he’s constantly arguing over how he’s being animated throughout the course of it. Fictional characters commenting that they don’t like the way they’re being handled isn’t anything new.

I would imagine that if a line was really crossed and the higher ups at Archie were really mad they’d have deleted the post and replaced the author (or at least given a stern warning). As opposed to say, spinning them off into a separate but still affiliated “my-Archie-space” in a manner that’s clearly gotten attention and bound to garner sympathy/support from their fanbase.

I use akismet, too, David, and it shows me 150.

Weird.

Big heads and thin necks are part of the ‘house’ style, it’s possible their inclusion is a holdover. It’s also possible that the artist, as many arists, doesn’t quite have all the nuances of anatomy down.

I admit to being interested in the controversy in a rather intellectual sort of way: amused that people are exploding because of this and curious as to the changes causing the explosion. I don’t read Archie.

Personally, I think that as long as they don’t hire Garth Ennis to write Archie the kids will survive.

Checking the various links again and the Veronica blog thanks you for “drawing attention to their situation” which is pretty amusing.

“Personally, I think that as long as they don’t hire Garth Ennis to write Archie the kids will survive.”

Thrown in Frank Cho on art and you’ll definitely pull in a new audience.

I wonder if this is a carefully orchestrated put-on or if it represents some hidden internal disagreements with the direction Archie comics should be heading in. It’s a nice way to set up “plausible deniability” for the future in case the experiment doesn’t work.

I think the biggest change Archie needs to make is in the stories, not the art. Archie no longer inhabits the world his readers inhabit (as opposed to comics strips like LUANN or ZITS or PRETEENA or FOXTROT).

Steve Bennett makes a good observation on what Archie does (or rather, did) best in a column at the ICv2 site. Just add the usual 3 w’s to the front of icv2 [dot] com/articles/home/9825.html to read it.

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