Archie Comics made a rather bold decision a couple years back by announcing that, following the success of the Archie relaunch by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, that all of the company’s monthly titles featuring the Riverdale gang would be under the “New Riverdale” branding — with multi-issue story arcs and art more reflective of contemporary comic books rather than the classic style developed over the years by artists like Bob Montana and Dan DeCarlo.
With this change, the more traditional approach to Archie was relegated to the contunity-free short original stories that appear at the front of the publisher’s digests, which are otherwise comprised of reprints. That changes next month with the debut of Your Pal Archie, a new ongoing monthly series from the creative team of Archie newcomer Ty Templeton — known for his extensive all-ages work including Batman Adventures — and 30-year Archie veteran Dan Parent, the creator of Kevin Keller and the primary current practitioner of the classic style.
Your Pal Archie will be written and inked by Templeton, with pencils by Parent. While this is ostensibly a return to the classic Archie art style, the characters have gotten a modern refresh — one somewhat inevitably inspired by Riverdale, the hit CW series featuring Archie characters in a noir-ish murder-mystery setting. Each issue will have two stories, with old-school-leaning set-ups like Jughead learning how to drive.
CBR spoke with Parent to learn more about what fans can expect from Your Pal Archie, working with Templeton and his thoughts on Riverdale and Archie’s newfound prominence in mainstream pop culture. Plus, CBR has an exclusive look at interior pages at black-and-white pages from both stories in July’s Your Pal Archie #1.
CBR: Dan, how did you feel when you found out that the classic style would return in a new monthly series? I know you never actually left it, given the work in the original stories that lead the digests, but was there ever a point that you thought the monthlies might have moved away from them for good? (Or at least for a while longer?)
Dan Parent: I was thrilled to find out I’d be working on the classic style in a monthly book again! I love working on the digest stories, but there’s nothing like working on a complete book! I had a feeling we might reintroduce a classic book at some point; I think we had to wait until the timing seemed right.
What was it like developing new character designs for this series? It’s definitely somewhere in between the digests and the “New Riverdale” books; with, as you’ve noted, some Riverdale influence in the fashion. How much freedom did you feel to stray from the more traditional look, while still retaining recognizability?
There were really no restrictions or guidelines put on me, I was just asked to tweak the classic style a bit. And why not use done of the style from the Riverdale show? It’s modern and eye-catching, which is important, so it seemed like an easy transition. And when you look at the book, you’ll know it’s my art, you’ll know it’s classic, but you’ll see the slight makeover. I think it’s great visually! And Ty Templeton’s inks really give it that edge!
This is the first Archie Comics work by Ty Templeton — how have you enjoyed collaborating with him on this series? How do you see his take on these characters as unique?
I’ve been a fan of Ty’s for so long, he’s done such a wide variety of work! And it’s all great! I also like him a lot as a person too. It’s great to have the chance to work together, as he is a skilled writer too! He has a penchant for keeping the classic type of story, with, again, a bit of an updated twist.
What characters do we see early on in the series, beyond the main five? Do we see Kevin Keller early on? And given her prominent status on Riverdale — Cheryl Blossom?
We’ve seen most of the characters so far, including Kevin. Cheryl hasn’t appeared yet, but I’m excited to draw her as she is definitely one of my favorites!
One of the big differences in the New Riverdale books is telling multi-part arcs with arc-to-arc continuity — what’s the storytelling format of Your Pal Archie? Single-issues stories?
We get two classic stories per issue. One continues into the next book. But they’re classic style, fun stories. No need to have to pick up another issue to get what’s going on!
On that note — what kind of stories are you and Ty looking to tell in this book? Since it’s a little bit of a different “classic Archie” book than existed before, what can you do here that maybe wasn’t possible before?
I think we’re trying to tell simple stories where humor comes first. The first issue features Jughead learning to drive, and what’s so great about it is you’ve rarely seen Jughead driving over the years. And the results here are pretty funny! (Even though I had to draw a lot of car scenes!)
Now that you’re drawing a monthly again, are you having to step away from writing and drawing the lead stories in the digests?
Well, I’m still writing them, and will draw some of them, but right now some of my Archie colleagues like Bill Galvan have been stepping in! A monthly book can be tight, for sure!
2017 has been a big year for Archie Comics, due to the success of Riverdale. After 30 years at Archie, did you ever think you’d live in a world where characters from Chuck Clayton to Dilton Doiley would be featured in a prime-time network TV show? To be honest, I still can’t believe we live in a world where Luke Perry talks to Jughead on a weekly basis.
It was indeed a big year, but I’ve seen the durability of these characters, so I’m not all that surprised! Still, it can be surreal seeing characters you work on appearing weekly on TV. The most surreal thing has been seeing my boy Kevin Keller come to life! And seeing Luke Perry, Molly Ringwald and Skeet Ulruch is pretty odd too, since they’re part of the culture I grew up with!
It just shows you that everything comes around again!
Your Pal Archie #1 is scheduled for release on July 26.