Recent Archie Comics Serve as Character Catalogs

The last two Archie Comic issues are quite interesting, in that their stories are less complete tales and more frameworks that they can hang as many character mentions as possible on.

Archie #657 cover

Cover by Dan Parent and Bob Smith

This week’s Archie #657 is a beach party issue written by Tom DeFalco with pencils by Pat & Tim Kennedy and inks by Rich Koslowski. Archie keeps falling down while trying to windsurf, while mentions are blatantly made of the Madhouse Glads band, Wilbur, Bingo, their girlfriends Laurie Lake and Samantha Smythe, and the Didit Brothers. (Who are the Glads, a connection I didn’t realize until KC explained it to me. And isn’t it interesting the girls are introduced with last names and their boyfriends aren’t?) Some of these are pretty obscure, although the main antagonist is Cheryl Blossom, back to being a scheming vixen.

Betty & Veronica #271 cover

Cover by Dan Parent

Last week’s Betty & Veronica #271 is even more of a catalog, and its cover even features a few additional logos, emphasizing the guest stars. It’s also written by Tom DeFalco, with pencils by Fernando Ruin and inks by Bob Smith.

In it, Veronica’s mother Hermione is feeling insecure, since her old friend, a famous designer, is coming to town and staging a fashion show. Ms. Lodge says she feels “so plain and insignificant in comparison”. This is a very odd emotion for a fabulously wealthy woman who’s proud of herself, her husband, and her daughter to have, particularly since the fashion show is just an excuse to list off most every female Archie character.

We start, of course, with model Katy Keene and her supporting cast. Josie and the Pussycats are playing for the show, accompanied by Alexandra and her cat Sebastian. She’s back to having magical powers, it seems. Ginger Snapp wants to become a model. Sabrina the Teenage Witch pops in, as does Midge, Ginger Lopez, Cricket O’Dell, Trula Twyst, Nancy Woods, and a whole bunch more, half of whom I’ve never heard of. It’s something of an odd reading experience, with a whole page of full names used as though they’re significant although we have no idea who they are.

Overall, the message is one of friendship being important and being able to solve problems when your friends come through for you. Then again, friendship isn’t such a chore if the favor you’re asked to do is wear glamorous clothes and have people applaud you.

So, speculating on why Archie Comics would want to do this, two reasons immediately come to mind:

* Intellectual property maintenance. Trademarks, as on character names, can be lost if they’re not maintained, so dumping a whole bunch of characters into these stories allow the company to show that they’re still interested in using all of them.

* Sample giveaways. With an increasing push towards getting more Hollywood attention for the cast and publications, issues like these are great to give to producers and other licensing decision-makers. They can be used as a kind of catalog for them to select characters they might be interested in developing for other media or products.

6 Responses to “Recent Archie Comics Serve as Character Catalogs”

  1. Anthony Says:

    I assumed the “plain and insignificant” line might’ve been a joke (since we know she’s not)?

    As for why the overload of characters, yeah, trademark renewal might be a reason—don’t think some of them like Ginger or Suzy were used since the *last* such trademark-renewal-ish storyline, the “night at the comic shop” one a few years ago, where the old Archie Comics characters like Young Dr. Masters came to life from old comics.

    And yes, odd that Alexandra’s back to using magic…though figured if they’re reconciling that with Sabrina, the Witch’s Council would get involved/be an excuse for why she doesn’t use them anymore. :-p

  2. Johanna Says:

    I have seen some discussion among Archie fans about the differences between the Night at the Comic Shop story and this one, most obviously that in that story, all these other characters were fictional in the Archie world, and here, they’re hanging out in Riverdale with everyone else. Which makes more sense to me.

  3. Anthony Says:

    Yeah, I remarked on such, as well… and guess can see why they changed that. Easier to slip the characters into stories like the fashion show one or other crossovers (part of the mentality behind DC’s Crisis in the 80s and forcing all 8 zillion heroes onto one Earth, continuity problems be darned :-p )…

  4. Jerry Says:

    I could almost see Archie attempting a more cohesive “universe” with their characters with these issues. Not that there hasn’t been cross-overs, but Archie and the gang, Sabrina, and Josie and Pussycats are usually kept apart, even to the point that they actually live in different neighboring towns.

    How about that media coverage on the next to last Life with Archie?

  5. Mark Moore Says:

    I disagree with your comment on Cheryl in Archie #657. She’s not an antagonist, and the only “scheming” that she does is have her windsurf thingy remote-controlled, so Archie doesn’t take a spill.

    In fact, Cheryl is downright pleasant in this story, and Betty gets along much better with Cheryl than with Veronica. It’s actually a nice callback to Cheryl’s solo series from the late 1990s / early 2000s, when Cheryl and Betty became BFFs:

  6. Johanna Says:

    Interesting, I’m not familiar with that era, sounds neat!




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