Archies Encourage Reader Participation

So I’m reading over this month’s sampling of Archie Comics, and before I know it, I’m craving a nap. That’s not a judgment on the quality — although some of the titles are better than others, as with any publisher’s output — but a reaction to the number of summer stories featuring girls sunning on the beach or guys snoozing in a hammock. It’s relaxing, dreaming of what it used to be like when warm days meant months of vacation and time off.

For example, Jughead and Friends Digest #12 has the gang on the beach in a new story by Fernando Ruiz (inks by Jon D’Agostino). They’re reintroducing WW, Wendy Weatherbee, the principal’s niece. Interesting character — she’s got more sense of an individual personality than many of the characters, creative (she makes her own clothes) without being stereotypically wacky, AND she reads comics — and I want to see more of her, but the story is purely by the numbers.

Jughead and Friends Digest #12
Jughead and Friends
Digest #12

WW walks on, talks with Betty and Veronica, and sets up the stereotypical conflict. She doesn’t understand why none of the Riverdale boys will date her, not realizing that it’s because of her uncle. The art’s similarly executed in large strokes, with boys literally running away from her with outsized sweat drops and exaggerated expressions.

In the middle, we break for a page that shows how to make frozen juice pops. Remember those, where you pour juice into an ice-cube tray with toothpicks for sticks? I learned those from bits in-between Saturday morning cartoons, but I guess they don’t have those any more.

By the end, nothing’s settled, but the editors want to hear from readers whom they think she should date. This is part of a trend for these books. I’m seeing more and more stories that more directly ask for reader interaction.

Another example takes place in Betty #157, which opens with Betty taking the reader’s picture. Angelo Decesare, Stan Goldberg, and John Lowe have put together a story about Betty trying to sum up the summer with the perfect photo. All of her friends have different suggestions, and they all go wrong in a story that makes great use of the visual format. Thankfully, Betty’s artistic creativity saves the day.

Then there’s Jughead’s Double Digest #123. The first story, again by Fernando Ruiz and Jon D’Agostino, reminds me of the classic cartoon Duck Amuck. Jughead complains to Chuck that he can’t keep walking down the sidewalk because the panel isn’t finished.

Chuck grabs a giant pencil, finishes the walk, and then starts giving art lessons by showing how to draw Archie. Who comes alive and heads off to Pop’s with them. That kind of transition makes me want to shake my head until my eyes rattle and I say wibble wibble wibble, because no one seems to think anything’s weird about drawing your friend into existence. The story is somewhat unique, though, in ending with an open space that encourages the reader to draw their own pictures.

2 Responses to “Archies Encourage Reader Participation”

  1. Dave Carter Says:

    There are also the new Katy Keene stories in Archie & Friends by Andrew Pepoy, which resurrects the old tradition of encouraging readers to send in clothing designs for Katy to wear.

  2. Johanna Says:

    I looked at the most recent one of those stories, and I love the idea, but the anatomy was so off that I didn’t want to mention it, since I was trying to concentrate on the positive.




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