Archie's "L'il Jinx" Grows Up (A Little)

A staple of Archie Comics' comics and magazines from the 1940s through the '70s, L'il Jinx is set to make her big comeback next month in the pages of "Life with Archie." This time around, however, she's just plain Jinx, aged from the impish six-year-old of the classic strips into a teenager just entering high school. Originally announced as a four-issue miniseries, "Jinx" will instead appear as an ongoing feature in "Life with Archie" magazine beginning with #7, which ships February 8. Each 11-page installment will be written by "Alison Dare" and "Wall-E" scribe J. Torres with art by Rick Burchett. CBR News spoke with Torres about revitalizing the spirited troublemaker.

"Most of the humor of the original strips came from the conflicts between the cast members. It was like 'Cheers' for little kids with its put-down comedy. There was also a gag strip with a punchline after three panels or at the end of the page," Torres said of Archie's classic "L'il Jinx" stories, which appeared in various Archie publications, including two series -- "L'il Jinx" and "L'il Jinx Giant Laugh-Out" -- that featured her in the starring role. "People will hopefully continue to find the new Jinx funny with its longer and more involved plot lines and more fleshed out characterizations. I'm going for a teen dramedy somewhere in between 'iCarly' and 'Degrassi.'"

In addition to Jinx's humorous conflicts with her friends in the original strips, she also regularly clashed with her father, a relationship that will continue to play a role in the new series -- although, of course, their interactions will have changed. "The original strips had Hap yelling at Jinx to pick up her toys or eat her vegetables, but now that she's a teenager he might nag her about the way she dresses or how much time she spends online. The father-daughter conflict is still there, but the daughter is older and times have also changed," Torres said. "What hasn't changed? The fact that Jinx is amusingly stubborn, quite determined and has a temper, of sorts."

As for how her life changes upon entering high school, Torres said, "The biggest surprise, the biggest change for Li'l Jinx, is how her relationships with her friends are different now that they're in high school." Readers who remember transitioning from 8th grade to 9th (or 9th to 10th in some areas) will certainly recall how drastically the rules can change once high school begins, and Torres will be putting Jinx -- already somewhat of a rebel -- through some trying situations. "Jinx discovers that, for example, her previously coed world of sports, little league baseball and soccer, doesn't exist in high school, that boys and girls are often not allowed to play on the same team, in the same sports. Jinx doesn't understand or like that," the writer said. "And just as the sexes are segregated in athletics, her clique of friends becomes divided as the boys' and girls' relationships evolve from the platonic to the romantic. Again, something Jinx doesn't understand or even like. At first."

These changes, Torres told CBR, will be at the center of Jinx's first few stories. "Jinx is pissed that there aren't any team sports for girls at her new school. So, she tries out for football," he said. "That turns out to be kind of embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as her first kiss."

Torres said that, while some of us find our childhood friends move out of town before our teen years begin, Jinx's friends Fat Charley, Gigi, Greg, and the rest are returning for her new adventures. "The whole gang will be there! Older versions of themselves, but not necessarily more mature versions of themselves -- at least not in a couple of cases."

With Archie Comics having built its reputation and long, successful history on Riverdale's famous teenagers, CBR asked Torres what would set the teenage Jinx and her crew apart from the likes of Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead. "My editor wanted something 'real, not ideal' for the new Jinx ,so we're striving for something that entertains while being relatable for younger readers," Torres said. "Jinx won't be dating two different gorgeous guys at the same time, for example. We're a little more grounded in reality, not so slapstick-y, but no less fun and engaging, I hope. I quoted 'Degrassi' before, and I'm really taking cues from that TV series, which I not only grew up watching but I got to contribute to not too long ago, writing graphic novels and webisodes for the 'Next Generation' show."

Torres also confirmed that the grown-up versions of the Riverdale crew seen in "Life with Archie" will not be appearing in Jinx's adventures. "I've set Jinx in a place we're calling Rose Valley -- think Pasadena -- because one of my editors wanted a West Coast setting to establish Jinx in her own world outside of Riverdale and away from that cast," Torres said.

The artist for the new Jinx serial is Rick Burchett, known for his work on DC Comics' "Batman" titles and numerous all-ages books for both Marvel and DC, winning an Eisner award in 1998 for his work on "Batgirl Adventures" and "Superman Adventures." "I love Rick's art in general. I'm a big fan of his Batman stuff, and he's doing something pretty cool here," Torres said. "It's a cartoony style that fits in with the Archie line, but at the same time is distinct and stands out. His storytelling, of course, is perfect, from the expressions and acting of the characters to the range of action like comedy on the football field to drama in the library. He's Rick Burchett!"

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