Just when you think they had run out of ways to shock us, Archie Comics delivered some startling news last week: The latest twist in the Life With Archie series is that Cheryl Blossom, the pretty, flirty, wealthy girl of Riverdale, has run up against a problem she can't take care of with a smile or a credit card: She has breast cancer. (Note for Archie newbies: Life With Archie follows the Riverdale characters as twentysomethings and is not part of the regular Archieverse.) We checked in with Archie co-CEO Jon Goldwater to find out what happened and how this storyline will be handled.
Robot 6: First of all, why Cheryl Blossom? Is it because her identity is so tied up with her appearance?
Jon Goldwater: Well, Cheryl's such a recognizable character—to fans and people only loosely familiar with Archie. We really wanted this story to resonate, so it had to be an important character that fans could connect with.
Robot 6: Can you tell us a bit about how this particular plot will unfold—how did Cheryl find out she has cancer, how serious is it, how do her family and friends react?
Jon Goldwater: We'll see how her family reacts in the coming issues—mainly her brother, then her "extended" Riverdale family, which consists of Archie and friends. Cheryl set out to become a big star in LA and gradually found out how difficult that was. In the process, she also discovered that she had breast cancer and realized she had to come home to Riverdale for treatment.
Robot 6: As I understand it, Cheryl will be returning to Riverdale to fight her disease. What does she expect to find, and how will this play out?
Jon Goldwater: Well, we don't want to give the entire arc away, but suffice to say Cheryl will be an active part of LWA and we'll see her progress—fighting the disease and dealing with the issues that come with that—in the pages of Life With Archie. She'll also discover that she has a strong support group in the friends she's reunited with.
Robot 6: Miss Grundy died quietly of some vague disease—there wasn't much detail of her diagnosis or treatment, and she sort of faded away. How will Cheryl's experience be different? Will we see more of the day-to-day life of a cancer patient?
Jon Goldwater: You nailed it, actually. Ms. Grundy's passing was sudden and while foreshadowed, not a central issue for the series. Cheryl's illness is something that's struck one of the gang, and it shows the others how precious life is.
Robot 6: What will her life be like outside of that realm—will she work or have a romantic attachment?
Jon Goldwater: No romantic attachments for now, but we'll see what she does with her time now that she's in Riverdale fairly quickly.
Robot 6: Will the story be different in the Archie-Marries-Veronica and Archie-Marries-Betty storylines?
Jon Goldwater: As of now, it'll be contained within the Archie Marries Betty universe.
Robot 6: Are you going to be grittily realistic and discuss Cheryl's health insurance situation?
Jon Goldwater: Well, Cheryl's lucky—she doesn't have a health insurance situation, because she's rich. But that fact does not escape her. In fact, she soon realizes that she's very lucky to be able to afford things like health care, chemotherapy and proper medical attention. That realization helps her see that there are many, less fortunate people who need the same care and attention. It motivates her to fight on their behalf. You'll see that as her main narrative in the coming months.