Archie 'marriages' collected in die-cut, slip-cased hardback

By Andrew A. Smith

Scripps Howard News Service

 

Jan. 25, 2011 -- Archie Comics has been making a lot of headlines lately, none bigger than the two recent stories of the Riverdale redhead’s “what if” marriages to Betty and Veronica. Somebody at Abrams ComicArts recognized them for their historical importance, and collected them in the gorgeous hardback Archie Marries … ($24.95).

 

These 2010 stories, as most folks know by now, followed Archie Andrews as he traveled up (not down) Memory Lane, exploring what would happen if he married spoiled, gorgeous, filthy rich Veronica Lodge after college or sweet, devoted, wholesome Betty Cooper. The results aren’t necessarily “happily ever after” in either case – and the stories caused an explosion of attention outside Riverdale city limits.

 

“I wanted to let the world know that these comic books are still being published, that Archie is still relevant,” said Michael Uslan, executive producer of the Batman movies, who came up with the idea and wrote the stories, in Archie Marries … . “But what we did not anticipate was the firestorm that erupted in the worldwide media. I’m not just talking about the United States and Canada. I’m talking about Kenya, India, Australia, England. The story just seemed to register with fans everywhere; that was something we never did anticipate.”

 

The issues were “a tremendous boost,” said Archie Editor-in-Chief and Co-publisher Victor Gorelick, who has been with the company for more than 50 years. “In all the years I’ve been at Archie, we’ve never had that much exposure, or that much attention. [Not] even when Archie was on television, when the cartoons came out. This is really big. … We’re getting mail, letters from people who haven’t read Archie in 30 years and they find out Archie’s getting married and they want to know what’s going on.”

 

Author Uslan and editor Gorelick were abetted on Archie Marries … by veteran Archie artist Stan Goldberg (whom Uslan refers to as “a legend”), letterer Jack Morelli, inker Bob Smith, colorist Glenn Whitmore and CEO Jon Goldwater. Archie Marries … contains interviews with all seven, along with other goodies and supplementary material – including a comic book tucked in the back cover reprinting five significant “love triangle” stories from 1949 to 1965. The main part of the book reprints the two wedding stories from Archie #600-605, plus an epilogue from Archie #606, on high-quality, glossy paper.

 

Which is to take nothing from the outside of Archie Marries … . The book is slip-cased, with hearts die-cut from front and back allowing views of the two weddings. Of course, which wedding you consider front or back will be determined by whether you prefer Betty or Veronica. 

 

“I always wanted to show both sides,” Uslan said. “Showing Archie just marrying one of the two would have cheated at least half of every generation of Archie readers.”

 

Meanwhile, Life with Archie magazine, which continues both Archie Marries … stories, is such a success that it will increase to 80 pages. Plus, Gorelick said, Archie will launch a second magazine, Veronica & Betty. That book will follow the girls as they travel from country to country as exchange students, as well as the foreign students who take their place in Riverdale.

 

“You’ll see some new characters, new romances, new hi-jinx,” Gorelick said. “It’ll make things interesting for the regular Archie crew.”

 

Add that to upcoming return of forgotten characters like Jinx and Katy Keene, and one wonders where all this sudden excitement at Archie comes from. Not only did Archie Marries … make headlines, but so did the introduction of Kevin Keller (the first openly gay teen in Riverdale), an interracial romance (between Archie and Valerie) and even Pres. Obama and Sarah Palin visiting Riverdale.

 

Gorelick shrugs the question off.

 

“For over 70 years Archie has been keeping up with the times,” he said. “A lot of the new things that you see are just in keeping with the position of Archie Comics, of keeping current, just like we always keep current with fashion, with what our readers like to watch on TV, see in a movie, what kind of fads … and other things our readers are interested in. … We fall in line with attitudes, and things like that, that’s very important as far as creating a storyline. So when you see the characters we come up with, that’s all part of our Archie Comics credo.”

 

Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at capncomics@aol.com.

Views: 387

Comment by Emerkeith Davyjack on January 27, 2011 at 9:27pm

...It should be pointed out that Archie put out a TPB prior to this , with far less of the bonuses and NO sob>> Archie #506 , but including some wedding-oriented Archie syndicated newspaper strips that the HC does not include .

  I've seen the HC described in such a fashion as to suggest that it's an " EC annual "-style rebinding ( Even if in hard covers . ) of leftover , or newly printed , comic books of the series .

  Is this so ?????????

  Actually , and even given that I ended up missing #506 in this series , the direction that the Life With Archie The Married Years title has been taking , which I have in general been following , suggests that it is in fact NOT following the same " alternate Archie " 2 universes as #500-505 did - Frankly , the comic books' story was a pretty obvious lead=up to a standard happy ending (Even taking into account that I missed #505.) , while the magazine - WELL......... - has had things develop in such a way that it would take - at the very least - a GREAT eal of apologtizing and , probably , therapy sessions to restore the " happy , all-American " Riverdale norm...With one central character , between the two stories , engaging in either massive unethical , in both the business and family sense , behavior...to engaging in behavior that could lead to prison time !

Comment by Emerkeith Davyjack on January 27, 2011 at 9:36pm
...Okay , here's the analogy...In an earlier era ( the earli-er Bronze Age ) , when continuity wasn't as much paid attention to , when DC noted the positive reaction to the initial Swamp Thing and Freedom Fighters closed-end stories ( in House Of Secrets and Justice League respectively ) , the ongoing series , when they were launched , concerned NEW versions of ol' Swampy and the FFs...
Comment by Mr. Silver Age on January 28, 2011 at 11:05am

Of course, which wedding you consider front or back will be determined by whether you prefer Betty or Veronica.

Is there anyone in the known universe who prefers Veronica? She has so few good character traits, while Betty has every single one known to mankind, that I can't imagine there's someone who favors Veronica. You can make a case for Ginger over Mary Anne, because they both had good and bad traits (and looked different, but that's probably another story). 

Is the Archie marriage story so good that it's going to be popular as a slip-cased, die-cut hardcover? I see the novelty value in the issues and the TPB, but I'm just not seeing the need to do this much with it.

I feel that way about the magazine, too. I've been interested in it because both stories are so un-Archie-like and so like a train wreck that it's fascinating to have proof that I'm not dreaming it. But my interest in even the best train wreck wears off after awhile. Have the stories gotten less malevolent since the first issue?

I have to say, Archie has really upped its game and gotten a lot of publicity recently, and that's not that easy to do with characters who have been so middle American square for so many decades. They've at least got my attention for a change.

-- MSA

 

Comment by Captain Comics on January 29, 2011 at 12:19pm

I can't speak for everyone, MSA, but I wanted the book on my shelf! And I hope to add to my "adult Archie" collection with the magazine stories, should they be collected.

 

Yes, it's a departure from the Archie we all grew up with in tone, but like the teenage hi-jinx material, it addresses almost universal concerns: Did I make the right choices? Should I pursue my dreams or play it safe? What path will make me happiest?

 

And unlike teenage hi-jinx, this is relevant material to me, made all the more accessible and important because I "know" the characters involved. When HBO warns of "adult situations," my wife and I know they mean sex, but we always joke that what "adult situations" should really mean is two hours of a couple discussing the bills and trying to figure out how to stay above water. That's a pretty normal scene for many Americans, and there's the Betty scenario bringing it to life with characters we care about. The Veronica scenario isn't terribly relevant in its particulars -- how many of us have even met, much less dated, a millionaire? -- but it is a cautionary tale that money doesn't bring happiness, which we've always heard (and don't really believe), and are now seeing played out before our eyes.

 

I don't see this as "malevolent" at all, and my interest is piqued in Archies for the first time in millennia. You don't care for it, but that's what makes horse races. :)

 

Speaking of which, I have actually met some people who prefer Veronica. I assume they don't vote the way I do.

Comment by Mr. Silver Age on January 29, 2011 at 12:46pm
I actually think the stories are a great idea, I was just surprised that both were so dark. I wish they'd have avoided the "money doesn't buy happiness" cliche, but that was probably inevitable, as otherwise there would be less drama. Certainly, avoiding the "love is all you need" cliche in the Betty part has a lot of interesting ways that it can go. I'm mostly surprised that Mr. Lodge has suddenly become an entirely different person, at least from what I've seen/heard.

I'll be curious to see how long they can keep them going, although certainly they can take different approaches. The Dilton-alternate universe hints I saw is certainly intriguing.

The wedding stories didn't interest me so much, because one story on that basis isn't that interesting. But sustaining it will take some doing.

I very likely will buy the TPB of the stories, assuming there is one. The other features are keeping me from buying the regular issues. Buying a magazine with Justin Bieber on the cover would take some convincing.

I agree about the notion of "adult situations." It always seemed to me that Mature themes should mean that Thor and the Enchantress are *talking* about sleeping together. That's a theme. Showing them in bed together was something else. We seem to be wrong on that concept.Mostly when they say "adult situations" they mean "teen-ager situations."

Money does buy some happiness, but a lot of money doesn't buy a lot of happiness. There are plenty of stories of lottery winners who ended up in terrible shape, Behind the Music shows and Charlie Sheen.

I would really like to hear the reasons to like Veronica better. I grant that her personality is all over the place and that she often comes around to giving away her presents to poor kids, but she has to be convinced to do that every time. And considering she looks like Betty in a brunette wig, a big part of the consideration is moot. Even so, how Archie doesn't get mocked at school for being a gold-digger and a "kept" guy is hard to figure.

-- MSA

Comment by Captain Comics on January 29, 2011 at 1:39pm

You've answered your own question -- the guys I've met who prefer Veronica are just shallow, greedy types. IOW, gold-diggers. It's funny, though, how perplexed they are that anyone would prefer Betty. Shallow people tend to believe that everyone else is just like they are, but just won't admit it.

 

Now, let me generalize about some other groups with broad brush-strokes. I'm on a roll! :)

Comment by Emerkeith Davyjack on January 29, 2011 at 4:10pm
...Veronica , actually , is a great deal of a nicer person in mainstream Archie than she was in my actual pre-pubescent years , and this is a pattern in Archie in general over the last two decades or so...I'll , perhaps , go into detail about this later , but , perhaps this is one additional reason for the LWATMY ongoing to have so violently gone in the other direction as it has done !
Comment by Captain Comics on January 29, 2011 at 8:27pm
I fully expect to hear furious ripostes from Veronica fans.
Comment by ClarkKent_DC on January 29, 2011 at 9:11pm
I don't know ... I don't think Veronica is any more intolerable than the Silver Age Lois Lane ...
Comment by Captain Comics on January 29, 2011 at 9:33pm
Frankly, I think she's far more tolerable. The Silver Age Lois not only dressed like she was 45, but was a raging psycho. Veronica was spoiled, but she cheerfully acknowledged it and was usually at least pleasant. For genuinely unpleasant, they rang in Cheryl Blossom or that chick who was the sister of the Pussycats' manager.

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