Archie Andrews is living several lives at the moment — a dual future in Life with Archie, fighting zombies in Afterlife with Archie — but his main universe story shouldn’t be forgotten either! Taking Archie and his pals around the world, writer and artist Dan Parent has been exploring the Riverdale gang as pop stars, moving from India to Canada as their world tour wraps up. Parent took time out for a quick chat on all things Archie as we anticipate tomorrow’s new release (EXCLUSIVE interior pages of which are below)!
Matt Santori: Dan, it’s so great to have another chance to talk to you! You’re not only the writer behind Kevin Keller, but you also headline the main Archie book as well. How does writing more of an ensemble book differ than one more focused on Kevin?
Dan Parent: There’s not much difference between the two books, because both books revolve around multiple characters. The Kevin book usually involves the gang too. The main difference is that we’re still learning more about Kevin, where we all know Archie very well.
MSG: With the next issue of Archie, you bring the “Around the World” story to its conclusion. What were your thoughts on taking the Riverdale gang out of their hometown and visiting literally the other side of the world?
DP: This story was so much fun, because everything (and everyone) but the kitchen sink is in this storyline! It’s fun to travel with the characters, and focusing on the musical elements of the Archie universe was a treat!
MSG: With each issue of this story arc, we’ve seen some significant female guest stars, including Amisha Mehta, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Katy Keene. Was this a deliberate opportunity for you to focus more on the female cast and what do you feel these ladies bring to the story?
DP: It wasn’t intentional; we just have so many strong female characters! But I especially love drawing the girls, so I’ll put as many of them in the storyline as I can!
MSG: The secret on-again, off-again romance between Archie and Valerie seems pretty back on at the end of the last issue! Why is Valerie the choice in Archie’s heart at the moment and what does she bring to their relationship that Betty or Veronica can’t?
DP: There’s a real appetite for the Archie/Valerie storyline, and it’s still a favorite story of mine to tell. I think Valerie is such a fantastic character! I think she brings an edge to their romance that Betty and Veronica don’t. I think she’s the only real threat to Betty and Veronica in the Archie romance department!
MSG: We also see Cheryl Blossom instigating a lot of trouble on the road. What are your thoughts on her bad girl behavior and her ultimate goal working against Archie and the gang?
DP: Oh Cheryl, how I love thee! She is probably the hottest girl in the Archieverse, and so good at causing trouble! She’s so nasty, but you can’t help but love her. Or love to hate her. Or hate to love her!
MSG: Flashing forward a little, May’s issue of Archie introduces Veronica’s cousin Harper, who uses a wheelchair in her daily life. Comics today have very few examples of persons with disabilities, so the news is quite exciting. What can you tell us about Harper and your thoughts about PWD representation in comics?
DP: Harper is another fun character, not held back by her disability but strengthened by it. She’s inspired by Jewel Kats, a real life advocate who you’ll get to know more about in the near future. She’s a remarkable woman who I had the pleasure to meet and was inspired by! And Harper brings a little more diversity to Riverdale, which is something I’m always striving for.
MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases for the Comicosity audience?
DP: Get ready for Kevin Keller’s superhero storyline, it’s a lot of fun! And the upcoming 6 part storyline in “Betty and Veronica” where the girls leave Riverdale is quite a shocker…that’ll have to tide you over for now!!
Don’t forget to check out tomorrow’s Archie Comics #653, written and drawn by Dan Parent, as well as his work monthly on Kevin Keller!
Excellent interview Matthew. As for Cheryl, she is indeed awesome and the Valerie-Archie relationship is great; keeps Veronica and Betty on their toes. Need to hear more about Parent and his work.