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Some reviews. by DeCarlo Rules
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Author Topic: Some reviews.  (Read 18424 times)

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DeCarlo Rules

Some reviews.
« on: October 06, 2016, 03:01:24 PM »
This has to be one of the best weeks for Archie (and "Archie-related") comics that I've had in a long, long time. What are the odds that ACP and Dynamite would both release a new floppy print comic book featuring the artwork of Gisele Lagace on the same Wednesday? Of course I'm talking about ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES and BETTY BOOP #1 (from Dynamite Entertainment).

On top of that, my two favorite ACP digests both came out this week, and I got both my subscription copies in the mail this week (both un-ding'ed and un-dented by the USPS, what are the odds?), BETTY AND VERONICA JUMBO COMICS DIGEST #247 on Tuesday, and B&V FRIENDS HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #251 on Thursday. Both of them came out in comic stores on Wednesday, so -- hopefully without jinxing things here, maybe they're actually starting to get it together down in the mail room at ACP subscription HQ.

And if those weren't enough, by pure chance (I wasn't even looking, just happened to find them by accident), I managed to find 11 issues (none of which I had) of the 1997 SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH comic book series in Fine/Very Fine condition (and a single BETTY AND VERONICA SPECTACULAR, issue #30 -- which just happened to feature a long Prom story with Cheryl Blossom in it). What did I pay for those? Would you believe cover price?? Which, by 1997/1998's economy, amounts to $1.75 each!

Wow, the only way this could have been a better teen-humor week was if the floppy comic version of Die Kitty Die and/or a new print edition of Super 'Suckers had come out.

So, while I still have a few days to go before I finish reading all of those, I just wanted to briefly mention what a delight it was, just paging through that latest B&V FRIENDS HALLOWEEN ANNUAL. Quick breakdown here; there are about 10 Halloween-themed stories or features included in this Annual (which amounts to 73 pages, if you really want to know). As you might expect, B&V stories predominate in this issue, with 15 of those stories or features, totaling 85 pages (notable as a stand-out is the 2-part, 11-page "How Much Is That Hunk In The Window?", with Cheryl and Jason Blossom). Next in volume come 5 Betty stories adding up to 34 pages (and including an 11-page "Betty Cooper, Super Sleuther" saga, with Betty doing her best to make Nancy Drew look like a dummy). Next, tied in page count, are 3 Josie stories or features (one 1-pager and a pin-up, and one long 14-page Dick Malmgren/Dan DeCarlo classic), and -- surprise!! -- FIVE Ethel stories. Both Josie and Ethel get 16 pages each (although Ethel's stories are spread out throughout the Annual). Next are 2 Sabrina stories and a puzzle page (one Stan Goldberg story, one Dan Parent story -- late '80s/early '90s, respectively) -- 11 pages, and 2 Veronica stories (two 5-pagers plus a "monster" pin-up, also 11 pages total). Mr. Lodge gets one page (2 half-page gag strips) to himself.

Dan Parent kicks off the Annual with the new story "The Costume Calamity!", and it's another in what seems to be a recent string of new DP stories that features topical fads. A few months ago, he did a story poking fun at the hoverboard fad (which I'd never heard of, and had to have Dan explain it to me when I saw him at Boston Comic Con - the story had just come out the week before); to me, when someone says "hoverboard", I'm thinking like those skateboards that really hovered without wheels, like Marty McFly in Back To The Future, not this thing he drew into the story which looks like the bastard offspring of the Segway. Anyway, he followed up in Betty & Veronica Jumbo Comics #247 with a story where Mr. Lodge gets into the "adult coloring book" craze http://www.cbr.com/betty-veronica-jumbo-comics-digest-247/, and in this Annual, he's got Betty costumed as "Ilsa, from the animated movie Chilled" (i.e. Elsa from Frozen) -- so Veronica, afraid of being shown up by what she admits to herself are "Betty's superior sewing skills, creativity, and resourcefulness" -- and on a side note, I was just thinking that was so blatantly honest of her to admit, that I thought I was reading a Kathleen Webb story for a second -- has the brilliant idea to go to the Halloween costume contest dressed in a cardboard box. But in keeping with Dan's trending to topical fads, it's a cardboard box painted to look like one of those highly-rasterized sprites from the game app Minefield. She not only looks like an idiot, but the fact that she can't foresee the obvious practical problems that her rectangular solid shape will cause is "comedy gold", as they say.

There's another Dan Parent feature (I hesitate to call it a story, as such...) It's a series of 21 'photos' from Betty & Veronica's childhood Halloweens together, loosely strung together by some bridging text narration, and entitled "Betty and Veronica's Halloween Memories". These 5 pages are all in full-bleed (runs to the edge of the page cut), full-process (gradient) color. I think DP just did what I'd considered impossible -- he got me to read a cleverly-disguised "LITTLE Betty & Veronica" story, and even more than that, to actually enjoy it. Somehow I just never felt these characters were "cute", as drawn by Bob Bolling or Dexter Taylor... but Dan Parent actually does make B&V cute as little girls. I suspect this feature came from one of the later, "magazine"-style B&V SPECTACULARS, and ditto for the (also full-process color) 2-page "B&V Halloween Style" fashion spread. The Annual also includes that now-classic 12-page B&V Halloween tale, Dan's "An Axe To Grind!" that features Veronica's truck-drivin' Aunt Gladys.

I will get to more of the above comics in some reviews later on in this thread.

« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 12:04:31 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

irishmoxie

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2016, 05:00:35 PM »
I didn't know Holly G! drew Betty and Veronica too (in addition to Cheryl and Sabrina). I wonder where her story "Where's the Werewolf?" is from.

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2016, 12:26:18 AM »
I didn't know Holly G! drew Betty and Veronica too (in addition to Cheryl and Sabrina). I wonder where her story "Where's the Werewolf?" is from.

And for a short while, she took over Josie and the Pussycats in Archie & Friends, when it was the cover feature. Holly even had a few stories in Sabrina the Animated Series.

When she was first starting out at ACP, like most new artists, she drew a variety of different stories in various comics -- a few Archie stories, a few Jughead stories, a few Betty stories, a few B&V stories. In fact, isn't one of the two Veronica stories in B&V Halloween Annual #251 also a Holly G. story? I don't have the digest right here in front of me to check. A number of those 'one-off' stories may have been original to the digests -- the earliest story of hers that I could find is in Laugh Comics Digest #145, Nov. 1998 ("Lightning Strikes"). If you see Nelson Ribeiro's name credited on the story as editor, chances are it's from one of the digest titles (I don't think he ever edited the regular floppy line of titles). Around that time, Ribeiro introduced a lot of new stories into the digest line. (After leaving ACP, Ribeiro moved on to work for Marvel as an editor on its reprint collections line.)

http://www.comics.org/penciller/name/Holly%20Golightly/sort/alpha/

And of course, Holly G. wrote and drew "She's Goth To Have It", where Betty goes goth. One of the telltale ID signs of a Holly G. story is the way she drew the girls' eyes in closeup shots, which is a departure from the usual 'Archie house style' eyes as refined by Dan DeCarlo.

« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 01:39:31 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2016, 12:48:33 PM »
SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH (1997) #5, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31 - There's a fair amount of continuity to this title (and the subsequent series by Bill Golliher and Holly Golightly) that is pretty unusual for any Archie title. This series started off with a 3-part story (guest-starring Queen Cleopatra of Egypt), in the first three and even after that it seems like especially when they get to issues later in the run, in any given issue there's a 50/50 chance you're going to see a footnote referring you to something that happened in an earlier issue. Like in issue #5, Sabrina wants to get her driver's license, so Aunties Hil and Zel dust off their old 1922 model car (which they bought new) and more or less force Sabrina to drive it (she's mortified) until she can pass the driving test. It looks a bit like Archie's old jalopy (before he traded it in for a classic old Ford Mustang in the 1980s). Then we don't see the car again until issue twenty-something when a situation arises that Sabrina needs it, but when that happens a footnote reminds the reader that her aunts gave her the car back in issue #5. Later, in issue #19, Sabrina decides to take Salem with her back in time to the late 1960s, and when Hilda and Zelda discover this, they must follow Sabrina back to prevent her from causing a temporal paradox. Zelda's green hairstyle won't fit in inconspicuously in the sixties, so she changes it to a conservative brunette medium-length style with a simple hairband. Although the time-tripping adventure wraps up in #19, Zelda's hairstyle continues to be a minor plot point in the following issue, after they've returned to the late 1990s, and again, a footnote appears explaining why Zelda's hairstyle changed in the prior issue. Eventually Zelda settled on blonde hair instead of green, parted in the center in front.

I'd assumed that most of the changes that happened in this series had their roots in the T.V. show, like having Sabrina's aunts de-aged, but while that was probably the motivation, the editor didn't just decide to have Dan DeCarlo draw them to resemble (however vaguely) their television counterparts. In this series, it was explained in issue #1 that they decided to de-age themselves (from how they appeared in classic Sabrina stories). On the other hand, there's no explanation for the change in appearance of Salem -- in the classic series he was an orange cat, and he was an actual cat, not a warlock who'd been turned into a (black and white) cat. Salem is given a last name in this series for the first time, but it's NOT Saberhagen as it was in the series that followed later. I don't have the issue at hand but it was some name beginning with G. In the later series, Salem Saberhagen was punished for using his warlock powers in some crazy attempt to take over the world, by being turned into a cat by the Witches' Council. In this series, Salem was punished by Enchantra for breaking his engagement to marry her, by being turned into a cat. All this is discovered when Cousin Ambrose finds himself in the same situation (engaged to Enchantra, that is). When Cousin Ambrose first appears in this series, he also looks different (without explanation) from the old series. He's slimmed down now, and has a goatee instead of just a mustache, and in general acts and looks younger. He has a tendency to wear black t-shirts with white suits.

Then there is the change in management over in the Other Realm where the witches are the native inhabitants. In the old series it was Head Witch Della, but now in this series it's Head Witch Enchantra, while a certain Della has the task of catering to Enchantra's every whim, as her personal executive assistant. Della now dresses conservatively, like an office lady, and she has her hair done up in a bun and wears big round eyeglasses like Dilton. Yet if you look closely, in some issues you can still see that bolt-shaped streak of white down the middle of her otherwise black hair. I had assumed this was all stuff established on TV, but in searching imdb, I could find no listing of cast members of the show who played any part named "Enchantra" or "Della". Which makes me wonder why they had to change things around in the first place. While the old Della was kind of scary in an arch-authoritarian way, Enchantra's more scary in a fruit-loopy Red Queen 'Off-with-her-head!' kind of way.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2016, 02:55:15 PM by DeCarlo Rules »

irishmoxie

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2016, 02:24:18 PM »
I also liked the Veronica story where she gets abducted by aliens reprinted in the Halloween annual mentioned above. I've read it before probably in a digital exclusive. Comics.org doesn't list in but I think it's probably from the Veronica series in the early 90s.

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2016, 05:47:33 PM »
The new Archie Double Digest came in the mail today, and it's already the Christmas issue. It's been unseasonably warm around here the last few days, so it felt weird reading Xmas stories a week and a half before Halloween. Nevertheless, I couldn't resist reading the new lead story, by Tom DeFalco and the Kennedy brothers. I can't recall ever reading a bad Archie story by DeFalco, and this one certainly didn't break that rule. Y'know, some of the shorts (this one was actually SIX pages) are sort of 'lukewarm'... they're okay, but they don't make much of a lasting impression. This was a sweet little Xmas tale involving Archie, Betty, Jughead, and Veronica, and one of the better Xmas shorts, IMO. It put an unusual spin on the usual triangle troubles due to the influence of Forsythe P. Jones, and had a nice little ending.

Were the Kennedy brothers this GOOD three or four years ago? I might be wrong about this, but I don't think so...  They really seem to have come into their own signature style, but at the same time, it's totally classic. I can't think of any other ACP artists that went from average to stellar in such a short time -- if there were an award for the most improved artwork, it should go to the Kennedy brothers. I assume it's an inventory story (but it can't be from too long ago, because there's a reference to "that television show" The Speedster -- obviously they're talking about The Flash, and that hasn't been on TV that long, has it?), but if the Kennedys hadn't been let go, they'd be offering a serious challenge to Dan and Fernando -- I really believe they've gotten that good. I wish they were working on some comics of their own similar to classic Archie, because the comics industry sorely needs artists like them.

I still haven't decided if I'll read the rest of this digest or hold off for a couple of months until it gets close to Xmas. Had a quick flip through the issue, and it definitely seems above average (in terms of the variety of stories and artists, with some good classic artists (from their classic period) like Lucey, DeCarlo, Schwartz, and Goldberg represented. I'll detail the stories included in this issue later when I find the time (even if I decide not to actually read them for six weeks or so).

E.Quiet

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2016, 09:13:11 AM »
I’m so late to this party, I only recently found out that Fernando Ruiz was let go from Archie Comics and just found out from DeCarlos Rules’s post above that the Kennedys aren’t drawing for them any more either! I’m so bummed on both counts … is Dan Parent (who I also love) the only ‘classic’ artist left?
Kennedy art took a while but they grew on me. At first I didn’t like the exaggerated poses and over the top facial expressions. Their work in Life with Archie totally won me over. Their work in those books opened my eyes to how the poses enhanced the storytelling as well as comedic value.
I’m enjoying the new look of Archie (so much more than Archie’s “New Look” … sorry but that first B&V story which was supposed to be “more realistic” just came off awkward and unnatural). But I did not expect that they would move completely away from the house style artwork – is that what’s happening now?
Does anyone know what happened to Rex Lindsey? Does he still do work for ACP? My google-fu fails me. I feel so ill informed, just consuming these great comics and not realising what’s going on for the creators.

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2016, 12:14:00 PM »
I’m so late to this party, I only recently found out that Fernando Ruiz was let go from Archie Comics and just found out from DeCarlos Rules’s post above that the Kennedys aren’t drawing for them any more either! I’m so bummed on both counts … is Dan Parent (who I also love) the only ‘classic’ artist left?
Kennedy art took a while but they grew on me. At first I didn’t like the exaggerated poses and over the top facial expressions. Their work in Life with Archie totally won me over. Their work in those books opened my eyes to how the poses enhanced the storytelling as well as comedic value.
I’m enjoying the new look of Archie (so much more than Archie’s “New Look” … sorry but that first B&V story which was supposed to be “more realistic” just came off awkward and unnatural). But I did not expect that they would move completely away from the house style artwork – is that what’s happening now?
Does anyone know what happened to Rex Lindsey? Does he still do work for ACP? My google-fu fails me. I feel so ill informed, just consuming these great comics and not realising what’s going on for the creators.

According to Fernando, the no-longer-employed-by-ACP artists like to joke that they are "on hiatus" (a term that ACP prefers to use instead of "cancelled"). No one's been "fired" or "let go", or "laid off"... they just haven't been getting any phone calls or scripts assigned from the editor at Archie Comics (and with the exception of Dan Parent's scripting his own stories, no writing assignments are being handed out to writers, either).

The Last Man Standing is Dan Parent, who continues to draw and/or write new five-page stories for the digest titles, and some new covers, as well. There have been no new comics assignments for ANY of the other classic ACP artists. Fernando Ruiz only found out that there was no new work to be had for him at Archie Comics when he turned in his last completed story at the end of January 2016. Some of the other artists, like Jeff Shultz and Rex Lindsey, hadn't had any new scripts handed to them to draw from the editor at ACP for many months before that, but by January of this year, Bill Galvan wasn't getting any new assignments, and neither were the Kennedy brothers. In fact, I don't know for sure that ANY new stories appeared by Rex Lindsey in 2015, never mind 2016.

Well, there is the occasional fluke like the Archie Meets Ramones special that came out a couple of weeks ago, drawn by Gisele Lagace. But to be fair, it was announced a whole year in advance, which is when she agreed to the assignment. She has to work a little further in advance, because she's got ongoing commitments with her own webcomics, but even so, it was more than six months later that she finally got sent a script to start drawing. They haven't contacted her about any new story assignments since she got the one-shot, either.

So it is... how do they say in Hollywood...?  "We decided to go in another direction."   :(
« Last Edit: October 23, 2016, 12:49:25 PM by DeCarlo Rules »

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2016, 04:52:22 AM »
The new Archie Double Digest came in the mail today, and it's already the Christmas issue.

. . .

Had a quick flip through the issue, and it definitely seems above average (in terms of the variety of stories and artists, with some good classic artists (from their classic period) like Lucey, DeCarlo, Schwartz, and Goldberg represented. I'll detail the stories included in this issue later when I find the time (even if I decide not to actually read them for six weeks or so).

As promised, here is the list of the complete contents of ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #273:

ARCHIE in "The Christmas Elf" (6 pages) Script: Tom DeFalco, Pencils: Pat & Tim Kennedy, Inks: Jim Amash
ARCHIE in "Wrapped Up In Christmas" (5 pages) Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Rudy Lapick
ARCHIE in "Price Clubbed" (6 pages) Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Randy Elliot, Inks: Bob Smith
ARCHIE'S CHRISTMAS STOCKING "Super Santa" (5 pages) Script: George Gladir, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Dan DeCarlo Jr.
ARCHIE in "Christmas Cheer Up!" (5 pages) Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Henry Scarpelli
ARCHIE in "The Present" (1 page) no credits
YULE PUZZLE PAGE (1 page)
ARCHIE in "Wrap Flap" (1 page) no credits
SANTA CLAUS MAZE (1 page)
ARCHIE in "Sprightly Spirits" (1 page) no credits
... and thus endeth the Christmas stories, for now. There are a couple more in the back of the digest ...

ARCHIE in "Direction Correction" (1 page) no credits
ARCHIE: FRESHMAN YEAR [Part 3 of 5] (24 pages) Script: Batton Lash, Pencils: Bill Galvan, Inks: Bob Smith
ARCHIE in "Heave Peeve" (1 page) no credits
ARCHIE SWEATER FASHIONS (pin-up)
ARCHIE in "Chop Talk" (1 page) no credits
ARCHIE in "All Washed Up" (6 pages) no credits
ARCHIE in "Growing Pains" (5 pages) Script: Kathleen Webb, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: unknown
ARCHIE in "The Crossing At Devil's Gorge" (6 pages) Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Jon D'Agostino
ARCHIE in "Role Model" (5 pages) Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Henry Scarpelli
ARCHIE in "1-2-3-KICK!" (5 pages) Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo Jr., Inks: Rudy Lapick
ARCHIE in "Take A Hike!" (5 pages) Script: Mike Pellowski, Pencils: Doug Crane, Inks: Mike Esposito
ARCHIE in "Plaidness Madness" (6 pages) Script: Craig Boldman, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith
ARCHIE in "AUTO Suggestion" (5 pages) Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Harry Lucey, Inks: Terry Szenics
ARCHIE in "Rocks In His Head" (6 pages) Script: Angelo DeCesare, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Rich Koslowski
ARCHIE in "The Big Stall" (5 pages) Script: George Gladir, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Mike Esposito
ARCHIE in "Homemade Mistake" (5 pages) Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Bob Bolling, Inks: Rudy Lapick
ARCHIE in "Shopping Phobia" (5 pages) Script: Kathleen Webb, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Bob Smith
LITTLE ARCHIE in "Believe It Or Not" (6 pages) Script & Pencils: Bob Bolling, Inks: Chic Stone
LITTLE ARCHIE in "The Letter" (4 pages) Dexter Taylor
LITTLE ARCHIE in "Ask Me No Questions" (1 page) Bob Bolling
ARCHIE'S DAD in "Phone Frenzy" (2 pages) Samm Schwartz
ARCHIE in "Good Advice" (1 page) no credits

... and a few more pages of Christmas stories to wrap things up ...
ARCHIE in "Prize Package" (1 page) [Xmas] no credits
ARCHIE in "Picture Frame" (6 pages) [Xmas] Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Vince DeCarlo
ARCHIE in "Home Style" (5 pages) [Xmas] Script: George Gladir, Pencils: Stan Goldberg, Inks: Rudy Lapick

And now, after typing all those out, I have to retract my earlier assessment that this issue looked to me to be "above average". There are far too many stories in here written by Mike Pellowski, who was a real workhorse in churning out stories for ACP for a decade or two... but whose stories never stood out as anything more than average. The shorts by Doyle/Lucey, Doyle/DeCarlo, a couple of stories by Kathleen Webb, and one by Craig Boldman, and the short Archie's Dad by Samm Schwartz obviously caught my eye on a quick flip through, and I guess I must have been in a charitable mood after reading that new DeFalco/Kennedy story. Apart from these few nuggets, and with far too few seasonal stories, I'm going to amend my former opinion to say that this issue is resoundingly average.  :( Great cover by Dan Parent, though.  :)

Anyway, apart from the new lead story which I already read, I decided to just read all the stories after FRESHMAN YEAR (I usually just skip the continued stories when I already own the trade paperback collection), and read the rest of the digest (apart from the LITTLE ARCHIE stories, which I always skip). Then I'll put this issue aside for a couple of months and come back and read the Christmas stories in the front (which won't take long) a week or two before Christmas. In fact, that sounds like a plan (apart from the new lead stories, which I can always read again at Xmas time) for all the Christmas-themed digest issues which will be coming out.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2016, 06:47:32 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

E.Quiet

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2016, 09:02:48 AM »

According to Fernando, the no-longer-employed-by-ACP artists like to joke that they are "on hiatus" (a term that ACP prefers to use instead of "cancelled"). No one's been "fired" or "let go", or "laid off"... they just haven't been getting any phone calls or scripts assigned from the editor at Archie Comics (and with the exception of Dan Parent's scripting his own stories, no writing assignments are being handed out to writers, either).

The Last Man Standing is Dan Parent, who continues to draw and/or write new five-page stories for the digest titles, and some new covers, as well. There have been no new comics assignments for ANY of the other classic ACP artists. Fernando Ruiz only found out that there was no new work to be had for him at Archie Comics when he turned in his last completed story at the end of January 2016. Some of the other artists, like Jeff Shultz and Rex Lindsey, hadn't had any new scripts handed to them to draw from the editor at ACP for many months before that, but by January of this year, Bill Galvan wasn't getting any new assignments, and neither were the Kennedy brothers. In fact, I don't know for sure that ANY new stories appeared by Rex Lindsey in 2015, never mind 2016.

Well, there is the occasional fluke like the Archie Meets Ramones special that came out a couple of weeks ago, drawn by Gisele Lagace. But to be fair, it was announced a whole year in advance, which is when she agreed to the assignment. She has to work a little further in advance, because she's got ongoing commitments with her own webcomics, but even so, it was more than six months later that she finally got sent a script to start drawing. They haven't contacted her about any new story assignments since she got the one-shot, either.

So it is... how do they say in Hollywood...?  "We decided to go in another direction."   :(


thank you for your detailed response. It's sad to see the creators being treated like this. Given what happened to DeCarlo I guess I shouldn't be surprised to hear this.

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2016, 12:57:59 AM »


DIARY OF A GIRL NEXT DOOR: BETTY by Tania del Rio - Not exactly a comic, more of an illustrated novel. It takes place in Betty's freshman year at Riverdale, but not the same "Freshman Year" as Batton Lash's multipart story (the basic idea may possibly have been inspired by Lash's story, because that story became a best-seller for ACP when it was collected as a TPB). For example, in this particular alternate reality of the Archie multiverse, Kevin Keller, Ginger Lopez, and Kumi Tamura are all students at RHS during freshman year, instead of transferring to RHS later. I guess I judge this less harshly in light of the New Riverdale comics than I did before, but I still wish they'd have let Bill Galvan draw the illustrations in his regular Archie style. The illustrations here are more like 'stick-figure' cartoon versions of the regular Archie cartoon style, as if to imply that Betty herself is drawing these pictures into her diary -- but really it's trying to rip off the popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series of books' style of illustration. It doesn't really come off as believable though, because even in 'stick-figure' style these cartoons are too professional-looking to be the work of a 14-year old, so they should have just let Galvan draw the pictures in the regular style he uses for Archie Comics and called them 'photos' that Betty pasted into her diary or something. They probably didn't even need to explain them with any excuse. Too bad they didn't try something like this 20 years earlier, and get Kathleen Webb to write it (and set it during Junior year, like the regular Betty stories) -- it would have been a lot better. As it is, Tania del Rio does an okay job with the concept, but the character just seems less like the 16-year-old Betty than I would have liked, even if she is supposed to be two years younger.

It's a little odd that Veronica isn't in Betty's diary much, given that they're supposed to be best friends, even as freshmen. Oh, she's in it, all right, but mostly comes off pretty badly here, spending most of her time hanging out with a new clique of popular girls that Betty has dubbed "the Glossies", rather than hanging out with Betty -- her few interactions here with Betty invariably cast her in a negative light.

ACP obviously had high hopes for this novel as some kind of breakout hit, and tried to promote it heavily in advertising in the comics, and by serializing six complete chapters in the back pages of B&V FRIENDS DOUBLE DIGEST #238 through 244 (skipping issue #241, which was the Christmas issue) -- that's more than half of the book. The people at ACP must have considered this novel to be SO important as a potential new inroad to the lucrative tween-age book market, that they spent quite a bit of time tinkering with the all-important cover design, before finally settling on the actual cover (seen above). Here are some of their preliminary cover designs (personally, I prefer the classic Betty logo, and Bill Galvan's Betty illustration, used on that last cover on the right, to the cover they finally went with - she looks cuter):
   


Also interesting is the image of this first page of the book that I found online, indicating that the 'stick-figure' style of illustration was not set in stone from the start of the project. It's a real shame they didn't just decide to go this way, and let Galvan illustrate the diary in his normal Archie Comics style:



They even had solicited a companion Diary, to give Veronica's side of the story (see proposed cover below), which might have been interesting if it had covered some of the same events in which Betty wrote about Veronica in her own diary -- but it was not to be. Sales were obviously poor (I picked up the Betty DIARY at a con this past summer for $5, discounted from its $14 cover price), and the proposed DIARY OF A HIGH SCHOOL PRINCESS: VERONICA (which Tania del Rio probably completed, and thus theoretically exists somewhere at ACP), was never published.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 01:39:44 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2016, 04:58:17 AM »
THE BEST OF ARCHIE COMICS

VS.
                      2011 TP Edition                                              2016 HC Edition

Comparison:
Physical dimensions/page size:
2011 TP - 5 1/4" (w) X 7 1/2" (h)
2016 HC - 6 1/2" (w) X 10 1/8" (h) [cover dimensions slightly larger]

Paper grade:
2011 TP - standard newsprint, off-white
2016 HC - bright white, semi-gloss

Page count:
2011 TP - 416 pages
2016 HC - 416 pages

Content differences:
General - Cover and text pages (introductions and commentary) have been completely redesigned for the HC edition, using a different font, and with the editorial replacement of all references to "70 years" with "75 years". Otherwise identical except for specific content differences noted below.

Pages 302-308:
2011 TP - Intro page ("Cover Gallery 1990-1992") and 6 pages of badly reproduced (low resolution) cover images from ARCHIE'S EXPLORERS OF THE UNKNOWN! #1, JUGHEAD'S TIME POLICE #1, JUGHEAD'S DINER #1, RIVERDALE HIGH #5, FACULTY FUNNIES #4, VERONICA ("in Greece") #10.

2016 HC - Intro page and 6-page story "Archie the Genius!" from ARCHIE 3000 #6, 1990, by Hal Smith (script), Rex Lindsey (pencils), Jon D'Agostino (inks). Not included in the 2011 TP edition.

Pages 344-370 ("The 2000s"):
2011 TP - Intro commentary page (1) for the stories "I Squid You Not" (SABRINA THE ANIMATED SERIES #8, 2000, 6 pages), title page (1) containing the logos and character designs from SABRINA THE ANIMATED SERIES and ARCHIE'S WEIRD MYSTERIES, and "Fall For It Classic" (ARCHIE'S WEIRD MYSTERIES #19, 2001, 6 pages). Not included in the 2016 HC edition.

2016 HC - Page 344 skips directly to the next section (pages 358-370 in the TP, the Intro commentary page for the story "Clock Crock" and "The Archie Wedding" cover gallery). In the HC, the cover gallery is reduced to the single cover for the TP collection THE ARCHIE WEDDING: ARCHIE IN "WILL YOU MARRY ME?".

Pages 372-398 ("2010 and Beyond"):
2011 TP - 2 page Intro section, 1 page Intro commentary to "Lodge A Complaint" (LIFE WITH ARCHIE MAGAZINE #1, 2010, 24 pages).

2016 HC - Same Intro sections and story as above, included in the HC on pages 352-378.

Pages 399-416 ("2010 and Beyond"):
2011 TP - 1 page Intro commentary and the stories "Egology" (TALES FROM RIVERDALE DIGEST #37, 2010, 5 pages), "Snug As A Jug In A Rug" (JUGHEAD #206, 2011, 7 pages), and 1 page Intro commentary and the three 1-page JINX stories "Chat Fight", "Frenemy of the State", and "The Dating Game" (LIFE WITH ARCHIE MAGAZINE #6, 2011). Not included in the 2016 HC edition.

Pages 379-416 ("2010 and Beyond"):
2016 HC - 1 page Intro commentary, cover reprint of ARCHIE (2015) #1, complete reprint of the story from ARCHIE #1 (22 pages), followed by a reprint of the cover and a 5-page excerpt from JUGHEAD (2015) #1; 1 page Intro commentary followed by a reprint of the cover and a 5-page excerpt from BETTY AND VERONICA (2016) #1, plus a reprint of the cover of JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS #1. Not included in the 2011 TP edition.

Comments:
Well, I don't miss the 12 pages left out of the HC of SABRINA THE ANIMATED SERIES and ARCHIE'S WEIRD MYSTERIES (at best, an excerpt from a longer story). I'd rather have the 6-page story from ARCHIE 3000! I do miss the inclusion of the very cool Reggie story "Egology", Jughead in "Snug As A Jug In A Rug", and even the three 1-page Jinx shorts, and resent the inclusion of 38 pages of advertising for their currently-published floppy comics. And I KNOW they are advertising because each reprint ends with the words "ON SALE NOW!". So, a more accurate title would have been THE BEST OF ARCHIE COMICS: DELUXE EDITION HARDCOVER - Now With LESS Content, and MORE "What Else Can We Sell You Today??"





DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2016, 02:10:27 AM »
Additional comments, Re:THE BEST OF ARCHIE COMICS DELUXE EDITION:
I should probably have mentioned that in comparing the reproduction quality to the earlier TP edition, it's like day and night, and that alone (apart from the larger page size) may be enough justification for the $10 difference in cover price. Part of that improvement is the better paper quality and the better color, and part of it is definitely due to them having cleaned up the quality of the scans that they're working from, so that the new book is more on a par with the hardcovers put out by IDW and Dark Horse.

Another thing worth mentioning is that the cover price, $19.99, is extremely cheap compared to most hardcover books of comparable page count and paper quality. I can only assume the price was kept low as an inducement to purchase the same collection of stories again, but really, if this were a completely original collection of stories never assembled before, a cover price of from $29.99 to $59.99 would likely be the going rate from other publishers, and considered well worth it by the main market of consumers for this type of hardcover comics collections, as long as the content justifies the price tag. What do I mean by that? The rarity of the stories, the creators involved, and other attractions including the overall design of the book, and the opportunity to get complete runs of stories featuring the same character(s) all in one place. That said, these days "The Best of..." collections are becoming rarer, because what the typical consumer really wants in this type of higher-end book is "The Complete...", not a random collection of stories that someone else decided were the best.

What's really odd to me is that this hardcover represents the kind of backwards-thinking of ACP. With other comics publishers, the more expensive hardcover edition usually comes first (to capture the audience of "I don't care that much about the cover price, got to have it NOW" consumers), followed after a reasonable selling window (so as not to compete with themselves) of six months to a couple of years, by the cheaper trade paperback, which usually gets a higher print run due to the lower cover price, and sells in greater numbers -- the intention being to do only ONE printing of the hardcover, and have that sell out by the time the trade paperback comes out. Also worth noting is that in most cases (except where the hardcover is marketed as a Limited Edition, containing bonus material), the later trade paperback is absolutely identical to the hardcover in every way, except for the cover (not only the paper size, but the paper quality, too).

Hopefully this version of TBOAC sells well enough for ACP that it will warrant them beginning to offer hardcover collections NOT available previously in any form, and that when and if they do begin to produce new HC collections, it will be in the Archival format -- i.e., sequential or chronological collections of a single feature or comic book title (for example, JOSIE ARCHIVES Volume 1 HC, containing their first few appearances in PEP and issues #1-10 of the JOSIE comic book). Then too, many of the "Archival"-type hardcover collections are aimed ONLY at the market of hardcover collectors/consumers, and NEVER get a trade paperback edition. Those tend to have the highest cover prices to begin with, because some of the cost of producing the book can be shared when a hardcover edition is designed and planned from the beginning to have a later softcover edition, lowering the cover cost of the initial hardcover somewhat. Since ACP is new to producing hardcovers, any new collections they would produce would probably have to be priced on the higher side to insure that the book generates a profit (and a later trade paperback would be dependent on initial sales of the hardcover), but I suppose it would depend on how much actual work needs to go into it, or if they have the existing material (scans, color separations, etc) on hand already and don't need to incur any additional expenses for those things.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 03:40:41 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

Deb

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2016, 07:31:35 PM »
A few of the stories that were scanned in from printed comics have been replaced with awkwardly reinked versions, with new color added.  Some of the reinked stories were harder to notice the difference, but Pool Sharks and the Martial Arts Little Archie story are the worst looking "remastered" stories in the book.  Two of the stories that were dropped, the Archie's Weird Mysteries story and Ego-ology were drawn by Fernando Ruiz, and the new Sabrina story had an intro by Jonathan Gray, two people who are not working with Archie Comics anymore.  Coincidence or intentional?  I could be reading too much into it.  The Jinx pages are a curious deletion, as is the Animated Sabrina material, seeing as The New Archies material stayed in.  The New Riverdale material makes sense to be included, if mostly from a salesmanship standpoint. 

DeCarlo Rules

Re: Some reviews.
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2016, 12:51:46 AM »
Two of the stories that were dropped, the Archie's Weird Mysteries story and Ego-ology were drawn by Fernando Ruiz, and the new Sabrina story had an intro by Jonathan Gray, two people who are not working with Archie Comics anymore.  Coincidence or intentional?  I could be reading too much into it.  The Jinx pages are a curious deletion, as is the Animated Sabrina material, seeing as The New Archies material stayed in.  The New Riverdale material makes sense to be included, if mostly from a salesmanship standpoint.

No doubt the decision was made to keep the same page count (416), but they absolutely HAD to get "the latest and greatest" ARCHIE #1 (plus additional excerpts) in there from a marketing standpoint. There's no way that enough time has passed to warrant any value judgment relative to "the best" for the 2015 and newer material. So they just looked at what they could eliminate to make room. First thing that had to go was the cover galleries for the early 1990s and The Archie Wedding. Then stuff that once seemed relevant, but is now no more than a curious footnote in ACP history -- Animated Sabrina and Archie's Weird Mysteries, and JINX. The Reggie story "Egology" really deserved to be in there, but they needed to make space for advertising New Riverdale comic books that are, they carefully remind us, ON SALE NOW! Why they left in the New Archies story is a mystery, but probably has more to do with filling a certain number of pages from each decade. Since they couldn't reduce the number of 1980s and 1990s pages too much to add additional pages to the "2010 and Beyond" section, most of the replacements had to come from the 2000s material.

Also, consider the fact that if this book were being published in 2007, some portion of the New Look Archie story "Bad Boy Trouble" would absolutely have been included as representative of "the latest and greatest", and it would have been unthinkable to have left out some excerpt from the longer "Archie Marries..." storyline. The manga version of Sabrina would probably have rated some excerpt as well, but it's now all but forgotten. Now "New Look Archie" barely rates a passing reference in recounting the highlights of ACP's history, and even the highly-celebrated (at the time, because it generated so much publicity for ACP) "Archie Marries" has been reduced to a small text commentary and a single cover image representation. How much LESS relevant from a 2016 perspective does that make things like Sabrina Animated, Manga Sabrina, Archie's Weird Mysteries, and the Jinx reboot seem? The Katy Keene reboot (from the early 2000s) didn't even rate an excerpt in the 2011 TP edition of TBOAC. I've no doubt that the passage of 10 or 15 years will put New Riverdale comics in similar company with those things.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2016, 01:03:45 AM by DeCarlo Rules »

 


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