The past few years have proven once again that the Archie Comics characters can be reinvented and reinterpreted in as many different ways -- maybe more -- as comic book icons like Superman and Batman. The current trend started in comic books such as Life with Archie (Archie and the gang dealing with serious adult problems) and Afterlife with Archie (Archie and the gang dealing with the zombie apocalypse), and continued in the "New Riverdale" era of publishing, with a visual style more reflective of contemporary comic books than the distinctive artwork of Dan DeCarlo, Stan Goldberg or original Archie artist Bob Montana.
The CW's hit Riverdale TV series has shown that Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead somehow fit perfectly into serial killer and crime family narratives, and now in the various current comics, Jughead's a werewolf, Veronica's a vampire and Betty and Veronica are both in a biker gang. So it figures that it's as good of a time as any for a return to the classic Archie Comics format of five-page all-ages stories, DeCarlo-inspired art and plenty of pals and gals, in a new series titled Betty & Veronica Friends Forever.
Betty & Veronica Friends Forever is a monthly ongoing series set to debut in May from the classic Archie Comics creative team of writer Bill Golliher and artist Dan Parent, who collaborated on the famous 1994 storyline "Love Showdown," which reintroduced Cheryl Blossom and led to that character's current prominence. The new series, with inks by Rich Koslowski, colors by Glenn Whitmore and letters by Jack Morelli will feature a different theme each month -- the first is "At the Movies" -- with 24 pages each month at a cover price of $2.99. It's the return of single-issue "classic Archie" stories to comic book shops, as that style has been primarily found only in Archie's digests in recent years, which are mostly reprints of comics from across the decades with a new story at the front.
CBR spoke with Parent, a 30-year Archie veteran and the creator of Kevin Keller, to learn more about Betty & Veronica Friends Forever, the enduring appeal of the classic Archie style, reuniting with Golliher and the iconic strength of the Betty and Veronica best-friendship.
CBR: Dan, much like the recent Your Pal Archie, Betty & Veronica Friends Forever is a return to the classic Archie style in single issue monthly comics. But while YPA featured updated character designs, this looks even more like a return to the "classic Archie" visuals, now primarily seen in the digests. How do you define this new series?
Dan Parent: Well, where Your Pal Archie was a tweaked version of the classic, Betty & Veronica Friends Forever is true classic! Back to the five-page story format, drawn in the classic style!
Betty and Veronica are obviously BFFs, but are maybe just as often positioned as rivals -- what aspects of their relationship are important to this series?
We focus a little more on the friend aspect here. When Archie is involved, anything can happen, but in the end, their friendship comes first. That is the true appeal of the Betty and Veronica duo!
Beyond Betty and Veronica, what other Archie characters will we see in this series?
The whole gang is here! And then some!
Bill Golliher is certainly an Archie Comics (and specifically Betty and Veronica) veteran, and you've been working together since at least, I don't know, Jughead's Diner? What's it like teaming with him on this new series?
Bill and I go way back! Aside from going to art school together, we worked together on a lot of Archie projects like Jughead's Diner and the “Love Showdown” storyline. But it’s been a while since we’ve worked together, so I’m very excited to be back with Bill again! He’d better say the same!
The concept of different themes for each issue is a fun hook. What inspired the first, “At the Movies”? And what other ones may be in the works?
We just wanted to pick fun, universal themes. Everybody likes movies, and we also have travel-themed stories, prom-themed stories... the themes fans enjoy and the types of classic stories fans have been asking for.
The past few years have certainly shown how many different things the Archie characters can be. For you, how important is it that the classic style is represented in monthly comics like this -- both visually, and character-wise, given how many different alternate versions of the characters are out there right now?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Archie characters, it’s that they work in many different styles! There are fans of each style, and some fans like them all! But we always have the classic fans wanting new material, so this will be fun for them (and me!).
Betty & Veronica Friends Forever is scheduled for release in May from Archie Comics.