Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Archie 19, originally released April 19th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Patrick: I’m not really sure how to classify Jughead as a character. He’s like some kind of invincible, infallible spirit, far enough removed from the drama to not be overwhelmed by it, but still incredibly perceptive. I’d be tempted to call it a narrative cheat, but he stands as a necessary foil to Archie’s aching sincerity. It turns out that Jughead’s sprightly insights can cut through more than just the complicated knots of teenage romance. Archie 19 finds Veronica in need of the same kind of detached, magical advice, but this time to free herself from machinations of her own father. And in so doing, Juggy might just open himself up to feel something of his own. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Archie 18, originally released March 15th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Taylor: There is an art to making conversation. If you deny this then you clearly have never tried to talk to me over the phone. When I attempt a conversation over the ol’ horn I feel like one of those poor dogs forced into booties. It feels unnatural and stilted and it’s not uncommon to endure long, awkward periods of silence. In person I’m better, but still not great, so I’ve come to appreciate those people who can make conversation. My experiences have taught me that talking truly is an art form where flow is supremely important. The same can be said for comics, where conversations and narratives alike need to flow easily. Archie 18 is a lesson on the importance of conversational and narrative flow, just perhaps not in the way it intended.
Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Archie 15, originally released December 21st, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Part of the problem with “doing the right thing” is that it’s usually the harder option, and quite often has no obvious reward outside of simply knowing that you’re in the right. For example, we see corrupt bankers and politicians steal from millions and never face any consequences, while those who try to bring their crimes to light are fired, arrested, or simply ignored. It’s easy to see why some people decide that morality doesn’t matter, but for many of us that simply isn’t an option: doing the right thing is too important to give up. Archie 15 finds the Riverdale Gang taking the high road in a few different ways, but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee them victory, or even happiness. Continue reading →
Drew: In 2011, Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats tweeted out 22 “story basics” she learned at Pixar. Every one of them is useful (and I encourage any storyteller to check them out, even if I cringe at how Coats’ list of lessons became “rules” as they were compiled by various bloggers), but #19 has always caught my eye because of how fickle audiences can be with coincidences. I suspect Coats is generally right, but I can’t help but think the magnitude of the coincidence is important, as well. Small coincidences that help characters get out of trouble (say, that the villain’s dropped weapon fell near enough to the hero to reverse the fortunes of their battle) would be more palatable than big coincidences that get them into it (say, that the dropped weapon landed on a button that began the self-destruct sequence on the ship just as it was hurtling towards the hero’s hometown). And, of course, these rules only apply when we’re concerned about verisimilitude — nobody ever complains about the outrageous coincidences in a Wile E. Coyote cartoon because those coincidences are precisely what make those cartoons so entertaining.
All of which is to say I think there are a few more variables in play than helpful/unhelpful in determining the success of a coincidence. Moreover, the specific profile of the coincidences in a narrative might help define it’s tone; an action thriller might allow for bigger, more unhelpful coincidences than would be appropriate in a parlor drama, for instance. In this way, a coincidence that strains credulity might not be a problem with the narrative so much as a sign that you’ve misjudged the tone of that narrative — different stories require different levels of credulity. As you may suspect, Archie 12 contains a few big coincidences that threw me for a loop, and while it would be easy to cry foul, the fact is that Archie has always been a bit cartoonier than I’ve been giving it credit for. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Archie 9, originally released June 22nd, 2016.
Ryan: This last week, I helped my mother clean out her garage. To be fair, most of my help came in the form of going through boxes of my childhood things and deciding what was to go to Goodwill. There was an Archie Comics digest in almost every box. At this point, I’ve probably read more pages of Archie than any other book. I also found a Burger King Toy with Veronica in a convertible and my Gumby-style Betty doll. There was no Archie figurine in my things. That’s for a simple reason; I think he’s kind of a jerk. It’s not that he’s a bad guy, but he has never been my favorite. I love the rivalry/friendship between Betty and Veronica, but the love triangle element was never that interesting to me. Mainly because his unwillingness to choose between Betty and Veronica made him a compassion-free cad and turned them into doormats. Mark Waid and Veronica Fish present my favorite version of Archie, because they treat him and every other character in the story with empathy and humanity. In Archie 9, both the central conflict and the love triangle develop in a world where everyone is doing their best and there are no villains. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Afterlife With Archie 9, originally released May 25th, 2016.
Taylor: At the beginning of Afterlife With Archie, Reggie says, “everyone is the hero of their own life story.” This is an old saying that certainly has some truth to it; the world as any individual conceives it, necessarily revolves around themselves. This is a powerful idea and it speaks to the nature of how persuasive solipsistic thinking can be. However, after stating this, Reggie imagines himself saving the day by leading some horses back to the survivors of the Riverdale zombie outbreak. The message seems to be that not only are we the center of our own stories, but we are also always the good guy in our personal narrative. But Reggie doesn’t see himself as the good guy in his own life story, he sees himself as the bad guy.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Archie 6, originally released February 17th, 2016.
Drew: My biggest frustration in dealing with teens is their lack of perspective. That’s probably my biggest frustration in dealing with adults, too, but teens are notorious for blowing things out of proportion. That tendency is exactly what makes teen dramas so volatile — everything is high-stakes for teens — but it’s easy for that volatility to alienate adult readers who know this could all be resolved if any of the characters just sat down to talk with one another. It’s important, then, to occasionally re-ground the stakes in a teen drama, giving readers of any age a relatable touchstone in between the more elaborate flights of fancy. That’s exactly what we get in Archie 6, as a miniature health emergency reminds everyone of what’s really important. Continue reading →
Today, Ryan and Spencer are discussing Jughead 3, originally released December 30th, 2015.
Ryan M.: My name lends itself to nicknames. Since both my first and last names are easily shorted and morphed, I’ve never had the sort of nickname that doesn’t sound like my name. In middle school, I tried to get people to call me “R Money” but as we all know, you can’t give yourself a nickname. Jughead Jones does not go by a derivative of his birth name, so when the first page of Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson’s Jughead 3 ends with someone calling him Forsythe, you can tell things are not right in Riverdale. Continue reading →
Today, Taylor and Ryan M. are discussing Archie 4, originally released November 25th, 2015.
Taylor: One of the hardest things about growing up is deciding who you want to be. While ultimately none of us can control what type of person we turn out to be (for really that’s in the eye of the beholder, no?), we try on many different guises as we grow into adulthood. Nowhere is the changing of who you are as easy, or as frequent, as high school. In high school you have the freedom to make your own decisions about what you’re going to do and what you’re going to wear that ultimately will make you into the person you wish to become. Keeping this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Archie would explore this topic given it setting and characters. But can this old comic perform new tricks when exploring this topic? Archie 4 dares to try and answer this question.
Today, the Ryans are discussing Jughead 2, originally released November 18th, 2015.
Ryan M.: Nobody likes a smart ass. Of all the things adults said when I was a kid, this may be the most full of shit. Everybody like a smart ass. They are funny! They say what they want without worrying about decorum and, in doing so, disrupt the mundane. The truth is, what “nobody likes” is being disrespected. And to tell a sass-filled kid that they have the power to undermine you is to further offer them power. In Jughead 2, the new regime at Riverdale High is struggling to regain the upper-hand over King of the Smart Asses, Jughead Jones.