Sometimes a reboot gets us thinking about people, places, and things that we haven’t thought about since we were kids. New takes on characters that seemed like next-door neighbours can be an exciting prospect; it can also be a lot of pressure for those taking the leap. One person’s revamped version of a childhood favourite can reignite a love of something long forgotten, or produce a rage at how someone wrecked a favourite character (Jared Leto’s Joker anyone?)
The release of Riverdale on January 26th has many long lost, or continued Archie fans wondering if their darker, grittier reimagining will do the original comic, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, its deserved justice. The pilot was written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who is Archie Comics’ chief creative officer. Some casting choices are sure to draw some viewers in, and maybe make them feel old. Archie Andrews’ parents are played by 1980s and 1990s television icons Molly Ringwald and Luke Perry.
One of the best things about the original Archie Comics is its timelessness, fashion trends aside. There were no real consequences or bad guys, and the characters remained the same age, no matter when it was, so you could read them in virtually any order: some have even said it’s almost a utopian world. While Archie has become a lot more progressive in recent years, there is still something very comforting about the Riverdale gang, and how they’ll always be there, riding along in Archie’s old jalopy. Let’s look into the world of Archie and 15 things that even the most avid comic readers don’t know about Archie, Betty, and Veronica. Readers be warned, there are some pretty intense spoilers here.
15. Who Is Archie Andrews?
The original Archie Andrews is based on two main influences. First, the Andy Hardy movies. Andy Hardy (who was played by Mickey Rooney) was an average guy who somehow miraculously attracts really hot girls who fawn over him even though they are clearly As while he’s a C plus at best. In the movies Hardy is constantly turning down the girl next door Betsy Booth (kind of similar to Betty, huh), and pursuing a string of Veronica-esque women played by Lana Turner, Donna Reed, and Ann Rutherford. Second, Archie is also vaguely inspired by the life of one of the original creators of the comic’s characters, named Bob Montana. Bob grew up in Haverhill, Massachusetts, although we never really know where in Middle-ish America Riverdale really is. There was a radio show that mostly played on NBC called The Adventures of Archie Andrews from 1943 to 1953 and it was geared towards preteens with its wholesome plotlines. Archie Comics was founded in 1939 and Archie first appeared in Pep Comics, number 22 in December 1941.
14. You Can Read Betty Cooper’s Diary
“Elizabeth” Betty is a kind hearted girl next door. She’s pretty obsessed with the object of her affection Archie, and usually ends up playing second to Veronica Lodge, although it seems in recent publications that Archie is favouring each leading lady pretty equally. Betty is athletic (she plays baseball), a strong student, can cook, sew, and is a pretty handy person for Archie to have around since she’s a top notch mechanic and his car is typically a giant piece of garbage that is constantly breaking down. She has two siblings named Polly and Chick whom she often babysits. Betty is a writer and even has her own book penned in her own perspective of the happenings around Riverdale in Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty and was written by Tania del Rio. Some believe that Betty was based after a woman who Archie cartoonist Bob Montana dated, named Betty Tonkar Jakovich.
13. Archie Has A Somewhat Controversial Musical Career
Archie has been more connected to music than simply his involvement with Josie and the Pussycats. Some believe that Canadian Indie Band Alvvays penned their hit song “Marry Me Archie” after Mr. Andrews himself, with some connecting singer Molly Rankin to looking a little bit like the beautiful Betty Cooper who has a long standing, fairly unrequited crush on the ginger. More notably, back in 2005, the musical twin duo known as The Veronicas and Warner Music Group were sued by Archie Comics for trademark infringement, stating the name was from the comic. They asked for $200 million USD; $20 million in damages to the wholesome Archie name and $180 million as a penalty against Warner. A settlement was reached where the band The Veronicas appeared in an issue (Veronica, 167), a couple of months later they appeared in Archie and Friends 101 with Archie Andrews himself as their number one super fan.
12. Betty’s Ponytail Is Magic
It doesn’t take a detective to realize that the artists who have drawn Betty and Veronica’s bodies and faces have drawn them as if they are the same person, but with different coloured hair. There’s a story in one comic where Betty and Veronica imagine that they have no hair and it’s impossible to tell who is who. A couple of years ago University of Calgary professor Bart Beaty spent hundreds of hours reading nearly every single Archie Comic that was published between 1961 and 1969. One important thing he noted had to do with the power held in Betty’s trademark blonde ponytail. In thousands of stories Betty wears her hair in a ponytail, and there’s only a select few where Betty’s hair is down. One might notice that Betty acts like an entirely different person when her hair is down. For example, there’s a brief period of time when Betty goes Goth, and guess what, she wears her hair down. Beaty says, “Betty is the nice blond girl next door but a lot of Betty’s niceness, it turns out, comes from her ponytail,” he said.
11. Archie Got Biblical For A Couple Of Years
About five years after Archie Comics artist Al Hartley became a Born-Again Christian he convinced John L. Goldwater to grant permission to use the Riverdale Gang in a Christian version of the comic that was published by Spire Christian Comics. If you thought that original Archie was wholesome, you haven’t seen anything compared to these plotlines. In Archie’s Date Book, Betty Cooper provides thoughtful tips on “modern” dating without it resulting in, “selfishness, deceit, and guilt.” In this series, the gang convert a sinful hippie towards Christianity, and are scandalized when they visit the Riverdale Red Light District (who knew this even existed?). Popular culture commentary is provided on how inappropriate it is for The Newlyweds Show to ask couples how often they “made whoopee”. In an issue where things get nostalgic for the good ol’ 1900s when people took pride in their neighbourhoods, no one would dare call a cop a pig, and women are treated as more than equals, plus Archie has the most intense moustache/sideburns combo you’ve ever seen!
10. Sharknado Meets Riverdale?
Archie has never been afraid to team up with other celebrities for a good crossover tallying up some pretty bizarre connections over the years. There was a four-issue special where there is a zombie epidemic in Riverdale and everything is looking pretty grim until Rock Legends make everything okay with their sweet undead busting music. In 2016, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Ramones and the 75th anniversary of Archie the gang go to New York City to meet the punk legends. In 1994, there was an issue with two different covers, but the same story released by both Marvel Comics and Archie, where Archie met the Punisher. Another unexpected team-up happened in 2015 when Archie and his friends fight the Predator in a four-part series. Sharknado fever hit Riverdale in an issue written by Sharknado 3 author Anthony C. Ferrante, where Archie and Pals need to figure out what really happened when no one shows up to the dance, because of sharks, naturally!
9. Little Archie Was A Woman Beater
Times have changed a lot since Little Archie was a popular comic book character with its run lasting for 180 issues between 1956 and 1983. The idea for Little Archie came out over the course of a poker night between a bunch of comic book publishers. Although it was quite successful many are thankful that Little Archie’s run of terror is finally over. The red-headed tyke definitely needed some intense counselling for his messed up views of women. The Little Archie comics produced around 60 years ago contained many plots about young Archie punching little girls, namely Betty and Veronica, completely unprovoked. Whoever thought this was an appropriate plot device is beyond us. The little woman hater wouldn’t even acknowledge his victims before he attacked. No one ever stopped to ask why he was so fighty, and the girls would simply respond with cries of, “Ow! Stop it Archie!”
8. Veronica Was On Reality TV
Veronica debuted in Archie Comics a few months after readers met Archie, Betty and Jughead, and a few months prior to the introduction of character Reggie Mantle. There are a few different Veronica origins throughout the Archieverse. Bob Montana knew the wealthy Lodge family, whom he’d met when he painted a mural for them, and is said to have combined their last name along with the first name of actress Veronica Lake for Riverdale’s own debutante. Veronica’s been from Boston and New York, and her father has been described as “Money Bags” Lodge as well as a “big shot” politician. In one introduction Archie daydreams of the rich debutante and accidentally sends her a letter to invite her to the dance when he actually meant to invite girl next door Betty. Veronica accepts, even though she lives in New York, beginning a very longstanding love triangle. In other, more recent issues, we’re told that Veronica used to be on a reality TV show.
7. Betty And Veronica Feminists & Fashion Icons
The women of the Archieverse have thankfully come a long way in making feminist strides since their beginnings. In earlier series Archie has a band called The Archies (you might remember their big hit Sugar Sugar). More recently Veronica wanted to start a band, when Archie suggests calling it The Archies, Miss Lodge corrects him and names the band The Ronnies (one of her nicknames). Staying true to the vain and spoiled nature of Veronica, in a particular comic when the gang become superheroes, Veronica’s super alter ego is Miss Vanity. Miss Vanity transforms into her super form when she gets stressed— she’s really strong and has a supersonic ear piercing scream. Both Betty and Veronica have always been, “fashion icons in their own right” according to designer Rachel Antonoff who is launching a Betty and Veronica inspired fashion line for spring 2017. The collection is said to envision the duo as best friends with “kitchy style”.
6. Cheryl Blossom Was Too Hot For Archie Comics
In the 1980s, Archie creators decided they wanted to give Betty and Veronica a new rival (and Archie a new hot lady to crush on). They introduced twin redhead Cheryl Blossom, who is a wealthy daughter of a software engineer. Her twin brother, despite saying he only dates rich girls, often pursues Betty. Cheryl Blossom was plucked from Riverdale after just two years because it was determined that she was far too racy and promiscuous to be in Archie Comics. She was reintroduced to Riverdale in 1994, and eventually had her own series. In Life with Archie: The Married Life, grown up Cheryl is seen as a struggling actress turned waitress after her disapproving parents cut her off. Archie seems to have loosened the reigns a little on content, and in 2004 Veronica even lost her bikini top to a wave on a day at the beach. Even if you prefer redheads Cheryl can’t compete with the longevity of Veronica and Betty. Veronica has ranked 87th in the Comics Buyer’s Guide’s “100 Sexiest Women in Comics” list, and Betty beats out her rival ranking in at number 66; Cheryl ranked 92.
5. Veronica Leads Progressive Character Plots
Thankfully Archie has begun to embrace and adapt to the times and has become much more progressive and inclusive in terms of what the comic presents about life in Riverdale. More often than not, Veronica seems to be a catalyst, or a device for these changes. Back in 2010 the first gay character, Kevin Keller, was introduced in Veronica 202. The popularity of this comic book was huge and for the first time in 72 years the first reprint was ordered after the issue sold out in record time. In 2011 Kevin was given his own series, making comic book history. Kevin Keller became the first gay male character with a series of his own in mainstream comics. A Canadian writer Jewel Kats, who died last year, inspired character Harper Lodge (Veronica’s cousin), who was the first character in Archie Comics with a physical disability. Kats was in a car accident when she was nine years old and became an Archie fan while reading comics while she was recovering in the hospital.
4. One Archie, Multiple Realities
In 2010 there was a critically acclaimed graphic novel series produced for Archie called The Married Life. Each issue of the series follows what would be happening in Archie’s future by following the grown-up Riverdale gang and varies depending on whether he married Betty or Veronica, providing readers with two completely different realities for Archie and the Riverdale gang. In the reality where he marries Betty he moves to New York to become a musician before coming back home to Riverdale to teach. Betty is also a teacher in Riverdale in this plotline. When Archie marries Veronica he works for her father during a time when Lodge Industries hits a Public Relations nightmare. In one of Archie’s futures he doesn’t marry anyone from the classic love triangle, but instead he marries Valerie Smith (the bassist from Josie and the Pussycats). Together Archie and Valerie have a daughter.
3. The Death Of Miss Grundy
Miss Grundy has been a staple in the world of Archie since her debut in 1942. According to Comic Vine, she has appeared in nearly 1000 issues as everyone’s favourite high school teacher, and has been revealed to be an alumni of the school where she teaches. She is one of the main people who encourages Betty to pursue her passion of writing. In The Married Life series, Miss Grundy tells Mr. Weatherbee that she’s severely ill, and he proposes to her. In issue 5 of the series Miss Grundy finally admits that she is also in love and the pair marry. A couple of issues later, in the version of Archie’s reality where he marries Betty, readers and Riverdale residents receive the sad news that Miss Grundy has died from cancer. This has left some Archie fans wondering if Miss Grundy was fated to have a happy ending when Archie is married to Veronica.
2. Lena Dunham Will Be Writing For Archie
In 2014 it was announced that Girls famed celeb Lena Dunham will be writing a four-part series for Archie Comics with a storyline surrounding what happens when the Riverdale crew comes across a reality TV show filming in town. Lena is a self-professed Archie Comics fan, but wanted to provide a feminist update because she has some skepticism over the whole love triangle paradigm. Dunham said, “It’s like, two really hot, intelligent women fighting over a redhead.” Dunham mentioned that she was hoping to update some of the values presented, all while staying true to the world of Archie. Although the comic was scheduled to be released in 2015 it never published and there is no word as to if and when it will actually be released. Lena Dunham has, however, written some content for the backdrops of Rachel Antonoff’s Betty and Veronica Spring 2017 fashion line, so perhaps we’ll all get an update on when Dunham’s take on Riverdale will hit the stands.
1. Archie Dies
There have been a number of changes to Archie Comics since Jon Goldwater took over from his late father John L. Goldwater, the comic’s founder. While many love the original series, Goldwater Sr. believed that much of the success of Archie comics had to do with how Archie is, “basically a square, but in my opinion the squares are the backbone of America (and) strong families.” Jon revamped the brand because he found the original Archie to be, “dusty, irrelevant, and watered-down”. His new approach has been really popular, and since 2008, Archie 2.0 has been very successful with bookstore sales of the comics alone having increased by 736 percent. In Life With Archie characters are graduated adults, and follows a different version of Archie’s adult life based on the choices he makes. The alternative futures converge in issue 36 for the issue where Archie dies. Archie is shot at the legendary Pop Tate’s Shop while protecting his friend, Senator Kevin Keller. Jon Goldwater commented on the death saying, “Archie dies as he lived, heroically. He dies saving the life of a friend.”