Today, Ryan M. and Patrick are discussing Jughead 15, originally released May 17th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan M: If fiction is to be believed, magic is dangerous. If a character starts dabbling in magic, it is not long before a wise elder tells them to be careful, that there are consequences. Sure, a parlor trick is fun, but the power inherent in breaking natural laws can easily get out of control. Magic can consume your soul, inspire a sense of megalomania and, sometimes, make you a sidekick in your own comic series. When Sabrina casts a spell in Jughead 15, our title character is lost in the shuffle even as he inspires and amphitheater of admirers.
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, Ryan D. and Taylor are discussing Jughead 14, originally released April 5th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
RyanD: After five years of teaching high school, it became clear to me that I do not envy teenagers in this decade. Kids have an entirely new plane for making mistakes to which I was not privy in the early 2000s — one which revolves around the ubiquitous little pocket-computer everyone has now, coupled with unlimited internet access and an expectation to hold a social media presence. Technology is, in many ways, a blessing and provides opportunities beyond our dreams less than twenty years ago, back when the world-wide web pretty much just hosted cool websites like “HampsterDance,” but I can only imagine the trouble I would have gotten into if I were sixteen today. Jughead Jones finds himself in a predicament in issue fourteen, a very modern problem, and he just can’t seem to please everyone when the internet is involved.
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, Ryan M. and Spencer are discussing Jughead 12, originally released January 11th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Ryan M: Cliques get a bad rap. The term itself conjures groups of snotty teens keeping out the riffraff and wearing coordinated charm bracelets. But, really, a clique is just a group of friends with shared interests that hang out consistently. The chemistry of clique is essential. I can think of a few times that a friend group went through a few permutations before settling into a regular crew or times that I floated in and out of a group’s orbit without getting pulled in. Even when a friend group (see how concise and useful the word clique is?) is steady and cemented, you can still wonder why it hangs together at all. Ryan North explores the group dynamics of the Archie gang in Jughead 12 by focusing on the two characters least likely to get along: Jughead and Reggie. Continue reading →
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, Patrick and Ryan M. are discussing Betty & Veronica 1, originally released July 20th, 2016.
“Whoever wins, we lose.”
Tagline, Alien Vs. Predator
Patrick: There’s something comforting about the premise of a horror movie mash-up. Like, what the hell else would you expect when you put Freddie and Jason in the same room? They’re gonna try to kill each other, duh. Same deal with the Alien and the Predator. They fight and die and it’s awesome. Until, inevitably, it isn’t. At some point, the kids are going to team up with Jason or a Predator is going to befriend a scientist or something dumb like that. As long as the monsters are true to themselves, any “Versus” scenario can be a ton of fun. Adam Hughes’ Betty & Veronica is a “Versus” story in everything but name, so any assessment of the first issue comes down to the question: does he stay true to the fundamental nature of his monsters? Depends on what you think that nature is. 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 →