Archie Andrews R.I.P."). Now writer Michael Uslan, who penned the original "Archie Marries" series, collaborates with artist Dan Parent on a six-issue miniseries in which Archie and Veronica and Archie and Betty celebrate their 10th anniversaries. Archie: The Married Life 10th Anniversary #1 is out on August 7, and we asked Uslan and Parent to tell us how this story will fit into the increasingly complicated world of Archie stories.
Back when the story first debuted, Archie married Veronica first, and there was a lot of outrage on the Internet. Do you think people would have been that upset if he married Betty first? Was that a deliberate choice to get people talking?
Dan: I remember when Archie Comics announced Archie was marrying Veronica and left it at that, and it caused quite the outrage, since people thought we were leaving it at that. Fans generally have a preference for Archie marrying Betty, so UNTIL they found out it was going to be a dual story where he marries EACH girl, they were not happy. But the controversy stirred up a lot of attention, which is always good for promotion!
Michael: Hardly anyone would have been upset if they thought Archie ultimately decided to marry the faithful girl next-door, Betty. But we knew that if word got out initially that he was choosing Veronica instead, global hell would erupt! And it did! It created controversy, debate, emotional distress, and all those wonderful things! The key for me, however, was in writing Archie marries Veronica first, that I not fall into the simple cliché that he married for money or exotic beauty and that the marriage would be a failure. I needed to show that as the years pass from high school through college and beyond that each of these characters truly evolve and mature and their choices and actions actually directly impact the life journeys of their friends and families in Riverdale. Each of Archie’s marriages have a butterfly effect not only on Archie and Betty and Veronica, but on everyone around them.
Will the two new "Archie Marries Veronica" and "Archie Marries Betty" stories run in parallel, or will one come first?
Dan: They run parallel.
Michael: When we launched the critically acclaimed slick magazine series, Life with Archie, we made the choice to run parallel stories in each issue, dividing the magazine into an "Archie Marries Veronica" chapter and then an "Archie Marries Betty" chapter. This worked out great for the readers and fans but required all of us behind the scenes to have literally a flow chart keeping track of all the characters across two simultaneous parallel universes.
How is writing and drawing a dual storyline like this one different from writing and drawing a story that doesn’t branch off like that?
Dan: Well, Michael has the heavy lifting here, because he has to keep all the characters and situations straight! Drawing them is the fun part!
Michael: If you could see the notes that I have to compile before actually writing each script, desperately trying to keep track of events and characters, some of which may have major differentiations and others which may be extremely subtle, you would say that the pages almost look like Egyptian hieroglyphics. It is crazy creatively challenging, and I love it!
The Married Life was followed by Life with Archie, which continued the dual storyline of The Married Life. How will this sequel be different? Will there be any continuity? Or is this going to be an alternate-universes scenario?
Dan: There is definite continuity here from the old series, and as far as alternate universe scenarios, I'll let Michael handle that explanation!
Michael: Just as with our long-running Life with Archie magazine, we will have two separate chapters per issue showing each parallel universe in action. The only character existing between the two dimensions is Dilton Doily. Like Christopher Lloyd in Back to the Future, Dilton is working hard to manipulate the Archie Multi-verse. But in actuality, this is not a story focused on the multi-verse as much as it is on character development, character arcs, character relationships, character conflicts, and the power of friendship among old friends as each one’s journey through life unfolds in unexpected directions.
The new-style Archie launched in 2015, and we have gotten used to seeing these more mature-looking (and acting) characters alongside the classic ones. Which style will your series use?
Dan: Since I'm drawing it, the series will follow the classic style, with a few tweaks. The characters are older, there's a bit more detail, but it's definitely following the classic style.
Michael: My goal has always been to use a classic Archie style in the footsteps of Bob Montana, Harry Lucey, Dan DeCarlo, Stan G, and now Dan Parent. One of Dan’s great challenges here has been how to show all the Archie characters now in their 30s. That required great finesse because we want them to be fully recognizable and yet believable that they are all adults now struggling through the challenges of their 30s including a vast communication gap with their children and their children’s generation, aging parents, fighting hard to scratch out a living and overcome the mistakes they have made and are making, as everyone does in life. While we will have plenty of humor in the series, we will also address important, contemporary, powerful themes indicative of life today, especially for people in their 30s.
The world has changed a lot in the past 10 years, as have the Archie characters, who have not only been reinvented in 2015 and turned into zombies in the Afterlife with Archie comics but also starred in the Life with Archie series and the Riverdale TV program. What effect will all these changes have on your story?
Dan: Despite all the great things that have happened in the Archieverse, this series pretty consistently follows the classic Archie and the last Life with Archie series. This updates the Archie we all loved as a kids and grew up on.
Michael: While I think it is great that the company has opened itself up to many variations and interpretations of Archie and the gang aimed at different demographics and audiences worldwide—not unlike what we have done with Batman in the movies and animation and video games—the Archie comics I first fell in love with were the classic style. Those are characters I grew up with, that made me dream of what high school and dating would one day be like when I was a kid, entertained me, who made me consider what was "cool" and what was not, and thus they were very real to me. A writer should only write about what he knows. Those characters I know and love.
How do you think they have changed the readers’ expectations?
Dan: I think the readers know that the world of Archie is vast and varied, and works under many different interpretations. Whether it's the Riverdale TV show, Afterlife with Archie, classic Archie, or an alternate storyline like this one, the Archie readers know that these characters work in many different settings. I think the only thing to be sure of is the readers will continue to see more varied and exciting projects featuring the Archie gang.
Will there be any side romances?
Dan: Oh, there's plenty of that! This is a romance story (I hesitate to say soap opera, but there are elements of that). So you definitely see the supporting characters having their own dramas here, too.
Michael: OMG! Between the two parallel universes, there are relationships, romances, disastrous-at-times love connections, threats of divorce, long separations, basically everything life has to offer to human beings who have entered a commitment to love and marriage while under increasing stresses and pressures at work and at home. I hope readers will find the turn of events to be unexpected! What they will not find is boring, static relationships.
Another thing that has changed since 2009 is the emergence of Kevin Keller as the first openly gay character in the Archieverse. Will Kevin be in this story? Will there be any other LGBTQIA+ characters?
Dan: Good ol' Kevin is here too! His role is a supporting one, but poignant.
Michael: Kevin will take on a certain role that will forever endear him to Archie and his entire family.
In the original Archie Marries, the characters had just graduated from college, so they were around 21 or so. Ten years later, they are… 30? How do you reimagine these teen characters as thirtysomethings?
Dan: It's not hard. I can remember life my thirties. People don't change that much. There are just more obstacles in your way!
Michael: All of the Riverdale gang are now well into their 30s. The older generation’s Mr. Weatherbee and Pop Tate and Fred Andrews and Mr. Lodge are hitting their 80s. The key is to imagine them as real and in real situations. I draw from my own experience and experience of many of my family and friends in creating life for these 30-somethings. To me, life is a series of choices. It is about what you choose to do and what you choose not to do. It is about what you choose to say and what you choose not to say. And each of those choices comes with consequences. Some people in their 30s will have succeeded early. Others will be bottoming out. Many others will be struggling to find their way. But in the end, what Archie and the gang signify is that a commitment to friendship, loyalty and love will help them together ultimately succeed in life.
Will there be a middle-aged Archie ten years from now?
Dan: Why not? People don't stop living at middle age! And by that age, their kids will be grown up, so you can just imagine the stories that can be told then… right Michael?
Michael: I see this like a PBS documentary series that follows real people throughout their lives every 10 years. If the gods are kind, I would hope that we will return and find out what has happened to everyone when they are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and right up to their 50th high school reunion!
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