Archie & Friends #102

Archie & Friends has become an anthology, featuring stories with Josie & the Pussycats and Katy Keene in each issue as well as the expected tales of the core Riverdale characters. That’s a great concept, with three properties that should be widely appealing… but the execution doesn’t live up to the promise.

Issue #102 begins with a story about the Archies band by Dan Parent (inks by Rich Koslowski). They’re playing an amusement park, and between gigs, while riding the rides, Veronica is being followed by someone in an ape suit.

Archie & Friends #102 cover
Archie & Friends #102

After flipping through some of the digests and seeing reprints from the very talented creators who’ve worked on the characters over the decades, Parent’s art doesn’t sit well on my eyes. His characters are flat and obvious, charmless and over-exaggerated. In this story, which focuses on Veronica’s overreaction, her upper lip in profile shots is extended to the point that she looks like she has a monkey’s snout. Not a good look for a young socialite. (I suspect no one’s reading this comic for the art, though.)

However, since he writes for himself to draw, his stories are nicely visual. The ape suit is obviously eye-catching, plus there’s lots of movement with the various rides the characters enjoy. Unfortunately, Parent shares a problem with some other modern comic writers: his stories aren’t tightly constructed. They’re a series of incidents: “this happened, and then this”. There’s not much of a theme and the closest he gets to closure is the surprising (which isn’t, once you’ve read a few) reversal.

I miss short works from those who knew how to write tight, gem-like pieces where everything was essential to the story and you were left marveling at the intricacy of their craft. (I’m probably using rose-colored glasses.)

If it’s any consolation, the art in the “manga-style” Josie & the Pussycats story (story by Tania del Rio; art by Chris Lie & Rich Koslowski) is even worse. Freakish proportions, static compositions, frozen panels, character designs that appear to have wandered in from different comics… it’s ugly. And overly orange (colors by Jason Jensen).

I wasn’t impressed by the story, either, with a kid-averse Josie yelling at young fan club members to stop touching her guitar. The ending makes her look superficial and two-faced. What was the point of that? Why would I want to read about this character?

The Katy Keene art, by Andrew Pepoy, is more illustrative than is typical for an Archie comic. He’s emphasizing her career as a model, with lots of focus on her clothes and body. In this story, she’s trying to escape paparazzi by trying on different vintage outfits, which allows for a brief-but-fun montage of fashion through the ages.

It’s a shame that the anatomy is off. When the point of the panel is to look at Katy’s clothes and poses, it’s distracting when the perspective makes her look like one leg is six inches longer than the other, or that her head is lop-sided on her neck, or that she isn’t capable of any other pose than a broken-winged bird, hands held stiffly out from her sides.

I feel like I’m being too harsh for what’s supposed to be throwaway entertainment for tweens, but why shouldn’t we have high expectations for them? I still read these comics for the same reason some people still read Spider-Man — fond memories of something from my youth. I know it’s tough to compete with nostalgia, but regardless of whether that’s a fair comparison, the craft here could be better.


One Response to “Archie & Friends #102”

  1. Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] Regardless, I think Gisèle would have been a much better choice than whoever’s drawing it now. It’s not very attractive. But her pages are great! […]




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