Hey all! I had a great time at the Calgary Comic Expo, and met a bunch of the Archie crew: Dan Parent, Fernando Ruiz, Rich Kowslowski & Gisele Lagace- I figured I'd share some of it with you.
* Fernando (who remembered talking to me last time) speaks highly of a couple of you- he says that B-Ko is "dead-on" with the interpretation of why Archie is doing the things they're doing as a company, and was complimentary to DeCarlo rules as well .
* They all say that Archie's biggest audience is still kids (which is why the Digests are still the biggest sellers), which is why Jughead sells the worst of the main cast, despite being by far the most-popular character with adults (they all seem to be selling more Jughead-related stuff than of any other cast member). The little girls in the core audience prefer the romance, so Archie, Betty & Veronica are the big-selling books.
* Everyone speaks highly of Craig Boldman's Jughead
* Dan hated the "Jughead dating two girls" years. I agreed- it was nice art, but it felt super-wrong. Also, both girls hanging off of a guy at the same time looks odd.
* Fernando shared some of the "No Ugly Characters" stuff he was ordered to do, which is probably why Ethel got more attractive with time. And more about the "Building Toni Topaz" topic, "thus creating the blandest Archie character ever!"
* I told Dan his "Kevin gives the chocolates" gag to Jughead (from Kevin's debut) is still the funniest thing I've ever read from Archie- he says the people at the company didn't want him to do it at first ("it's too slapsticky". FOR ARHCIE).
* I complimented Rich's inking- the guy goes over Fernando, Dan AND Gisele's stuff and manages to keep their styles intact! NOT an easy thing to do- it's a great tragedy that good inkers go unrecognized, because you almost never notice someone's inking unless it sucks (Christopher Priest has told a hilarious story about how he once asked an artist to "stop drawing Peter Parker's head square", realizing only YEARS later that it was the INKER doing it).
* Rich apparently wrote a full script for an Archie/Star Trek Crossover, but the Trek people were too loser-y to go for it, and held on to their license/control too tightly.* Funny: Gisele's at the Archie group of tables, yet most of her stuff is themed towards Menage A 3, which is TOTALLY not going for the same target audience . My brother is a big MA3 reader, and even jumped in with a question. She drew some nice sketches in the books I got from her, too. And she did eventually get to meet T. Campbell, her Penny & Aggie co-creator, after the strip had finally ended.
* I grabbed some small Jughead portraits (yup- he's my favorite too
from Fernando & Rich, and Dan's Collected Art book. Plus three volumes of Gisele's work on Penny & Aggie
(which was how I discovered her stuff). I was gonna talk to Fiona Staples too, but as she's both there at weird hours (only super-late) and was SUPER-popular (given that she's one of the most well-thought-of artists in the industry, AND a local to Calgary, so it never happened.
They had a big Panel discussion as well (no recording devices/flash photography allowed), which was mostly a bit about how they started at Archie, and then it became entirely a Q&A:
* Dan & Fernando were hired right out of school from the Joe Kubert academy of comic book art, Gisele was self-published and a graphic designer whose art was said to resemble Archie's (she was an old fan) and got into contact with them that way, and Rich was working on the Sonic
TV series and SEGA was so impressed that they said "we want the guys who do THAT to do Sonic!"
* Everyone's Favorite Character? Jughead (Dan), Reggie (Fernando), Melody (Gisele) & Reggie (Fiona). I forget what Rich said.
* Rich joked that Fiona's "a NAUGHTY girl!" for liking Reggie the best. God I hope no Internet Rageaholic Types were recording these festivities, lest they make a mountain out of that
* They good-naturedly answered some odd questions from kids, like the one kid who excitedly wanted a crossover between Archie, Superman and the Quik Bunny (?!?- apparently there was an old crossover he loved). They were nice about it. But seriously, why was a KID at a Panel from ARCHIE COMICS
* Poor Fiona was a bit out of place, having only drawn like THREE COMICS by that point, and was sitting next to the people who got booted out because of the "New Style". But she politely answered everything she could.
* Advice to aspiring Comic Book Artists? Dan: "RUN AWAY...!" Everyone admitted they had little choice- they were simply born to do it
* Rich shared a funny story about Fernando's art, always including his initials in stuff like tree trunks ("I turned a couple of those "FR"s into "FR & RK"- that makes us Archie's first gay couple!").
* Canada is apparently CRAZY into Archie- the sales here actually match the United States's. Given we have a tenth their population, that's a lot.
* I was thinking of asking a question, but there was a line-up and I was stuck at the edge of a very squished-in panel room, so I waited until later. I asked some of the guys who they thought the most under-utilized characters were: I got Josie & Sabrina (Dan- though he admitted that Sabrina had her own book now, so maybe not) & Wendy Weatherbee (Fernando). We agreed that "Double-W" had some potential in her few Digest appearances (Dan: "Was she Mr. Weatherbee's love child?" Fernando: "Write your own Fan Fiction!").
Overall, the Archie stuff was the best part of the show! Thanks to everyone who came out- and thanks for listening to me go on about my own Archie fascination
! Totally the highlight of the show for me (it was a pretty minor year for celebrities). It's funny- the first year I was there just had Dan. The next year it was Dan & Fernando, then again the next one. Now it's even MORE people. We'll see if we can get Craig Boldman, Rex Lindsay and whoever else is still alive to come out next time- I promise to buy more stuff!