Uslan and Archie Pop the Question

Archie Andrews is about to make an offer someone can't refuse. In what Archie Comics is billing as the "Archie Story of the Century," Hollywood producer and comics writer Michael Uslan ("The Dark Knight," "The Spirit") is set to take Riverdale's resident redhead into the future where he pops the question more than 65 years in making: "Will you marry me?"

Who's the lucky girl? Veronica Lodge.

In this interview with CBR News, Uslan shares details about the story that plays out after Archie and his fellow perpetual teens graduate from college.

CBR: Right off the bat, is "Archie Marries Veronica," to use a DC Comics term, an Elseworlds story?

Michael Uslan: This is a story that starts about five years in the future. And it takes place just as Archie and the Gang graduate from college. So what we do here is take a leap into the future and the device that I use here is similar to what happened back in "Archie Digest" #236. There was a story where Archie meets Archie. Archie walks down memory lane and meets Archie from 1941. This time, he goes up the street rather than down the street and winds up walking smack into his own future.

And it is just, to me, a really, really cool setup where we get to explore what impact, making a decision about who you are going to marry has. A very wise man once said to me that single decision will affect 90 percent of all your happiness and unhappiness in your life. And I think he was right. And it's not just about you either. It's about your friends, it's about your family, everyone's life is impacted by a decision like that. And it's fascinating how it affects everybody.

Who was the wise man?

The wisest man I ever met, my father-in-law, Dr. M.S. Osher, founder of The Cincinnati Eye Institute.

What are your first memories of Archie Comics? And why do you think the characters have lasted so long?

Let me take you back to circa 1980. I don't know if you know this but I wrote with Jeff Mendel, the book for G.P. Putnam's Sons, "The Best of Archie." And it was the first hardcover and trade paperback that reprinted Archie stories going back to the originals. I wrote the introduction to that with Jeff and we did a history and we analyzed the strip back then and in order to do that book, Jeff and I sat and read every comic book in their whole library as of 1980 or so.

It has a mystique. It is so basic that even though it's simple themes and basic stock characters, anyone from any generation, maybe it's because it's so simple and basic, has always been able to identify with Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the Gang. And here they are now. We're coming up to the 70th anniversary of Archie. In 2011, it will be 70 years and it's still about a bunch of kids in a high school situation, going to the beach, going to the malt shop, having fun, getting into trouble, in school and out of school, with the parents, the teachers, the other kids, it's still those basic stories. And anyone, male or female, can still relate to them. And they do. So I think there is something very, very magical about it.

Do you have a favorite Archie character?

I absolutely have a favorite character. And it's the same character that I've loved since I absolutely went crazy for these comic books when I was a little, little kid and it's Little Archie. I think over the decades, some of the best, most heartfelt, most emotional stories to ever come out of Archie, comes from Bob Bolling and "Little Archie." I love those things so much.

How did you get involved in the "Archie Marries Veronica" project?

This is something that's been on my bucket list. I just always wanted to write an Archie comic. And I wanted to do something significant. And I'm getting grey enough that it's time to start scratching a couple of things off my bucket list so I had to find a way to do this. And very happily, I was able to sit down with [Editor-in-Chief] Vic Gorelick, who I've know since the day I walked into Archie to read all of those comics in the library, almost 30 years ago, and told him what I wanted to do and he was just completely supportive and introduced me to Fred Mausser. It was the first time I had really met Fred, and bingo! And with the support of John Goldwater and everybody else over there, I think we have something that people while they may not agree with it all, they're really going to have fun time taking the ride with us on this.

You have a long history with comic books but you are also a noted producer on such movies as "The Dark Knight" and most recently, "The Spirit." Would you like to make an Archie movie?

I think Archie could make a great film. And it's been tried before in movies and TV. If you think about, they did it very successfully in TV, except they called it "Happy Days." And they tried it on Broadway and the movies, except they called it "Grease." It's been all around and influenced many, many movies and TV shows for a very long time and I think with the right concept and the right creative topspin, it's just a natural.

You seem very passionate about this project.

I think it's a sign of the times. When you think how many comic books have made it to issue #600? How many characters have lasted 70 years? So for this release to go out in May 2009, 70 years after Batman made his debut, to have Archie in the company of Superman, Batman and the other characters that have been around that long, Wonder Woman, it's a great thing. It's about time he got some recognition and I think if the fans take the ride with us, they're just going to have a great, great time with the twists and turns of the story and how it impact all of the characters.

Featuring art by legendary Archie Comics artist Stan Goldberg, "Archie" #600 - the first of six-issue "Archie Marries Veronica" storyline - is scheduled to arrive in comic book stores on August 19 and on newsstands on September 1.

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