Saturday, January 06, 2007

Archie Comics To Get New Look

This May's release of Betty and Veronica Double Digest #151 marks a major and radical change for Archie Comics, one of the only three comics publishers whose roots extend back to the so-called "Golden Age of Comics" of the 1940s. With that issue, the venerable purveyor of harmless teen humor drops the cartoony "Archie style" of art that has become their trademark in favor of a more realistic rendering style, courtesy of artists Steve Butler and Marvel Comics veteran Al Milgrom, and longer, supposedly more realistic stories.
My first reaction upon reading about this in this week's issue of Comic Shop News was that they couldn't do this. It just wasn't right to trash sixty years of tradition and throw out the cherished childhood memories of millions of comics readers. Then I remembered the last Archie comics that I actually read, and my reaction changed to "It's about damned time!" While I love the Archie art style, which has been a major influence on my own cartooning style, the stories themselves have been bland, unfunny, and irrelevant to the lives of real teens, while the characters remain largely locked into their original 1940s stereotypical modes of behavior and dress. (Archie still wears a bowtie? And just what the hell is that thing on top of Jughead's head supposed to be, anyway?) A move even into the 1950's, let alone the 21st century, is long overdue. As always, however, the final proof of whether this is the right move for Archie Comics will be the stories themselves and, ultimately, the sales figures.
You know, I've always wondered why Archie Andrews could never chose between Betty and Veronica, and the cover of Betty and Veronica Double Digest #151 brings that question to mind once again. Betty has always been portrayed as much nicer than Veronica, and on that cover she's shown to be a whole lot more attractive as well. This does not make Archie look very good, as it seems that the only thing Ronnie has going for her is that she's rich.
More on Archie Comics and Betty and Veronica's new look:

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