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Interview & Exclusive Preview: Dan Parent on ‘Your Pal Archie’

YourPalArchie_01-0

Archie Comics made a major change two years ago when it rebooted its iconic properties with a new, more naturalistic style and slightly more “mature” storylines. Fans of the classic Archie style could still get the old stories—and some new ones in the traditional style—in Archie’s many monthly digests. And then, earlier this year, Archie announced a third alternative: Longtime Archie hand Dan Parent and first-time Archie creator Ty Templeton would work together on a new series, Your Pal Archie, that is done in a hybrid style that updates the older look but doesn’t go as far as the new comics.

Confused? We talked to Parent, who will be penciling the comics (Templeton is writing and inking them) about this new look. And we’re following the interview with an exclusive preview of Your Pal Archie #1, which goes on sale July 26.

The first thing I noticed about the stories in this issue is that they focus on Archie and Jughead. Betty, Veronica, and Kevin are there but really off to the side. Will they get their own stories later on in this series, or will Archie and Jughead continue to be the central characters?

All the characters will get a focus in this series. I’m working on the third issue, and it’s all about Reggie!

Also, Jughead has a slapstick turn in the first story that seems unusual for him. Are you taking this opportunity to mix up the characters’ personalities and break them out of their usual roles a bit, as well as changing the art?

We really want to focus on humor, and the slapstick stuff was a ways a part of the classic stories. 

I would imagine re-inventing the classic Archie style would be a challenge for anyone—but you have been drawing in the classic Archie style for decades. What habits did you have to drop or relearn?

I just drew them in a way that I found appealing. I think of it as a makeover. It really wasn’t a difficult transition at all! 

How did you start thinking about changing the style? Did you tweak one thing at a time, or did you have the whole look in your head from the beginning?

It really started as one tweak at a time. The main thing was Archie, I wanted to change up his hair. Then, I borrowed some things from the show. It was a good template to follow! 

Most people have focused on the character designs, and we’ll talk about that in a minute. But first I wanted to discuss the overall style. Like classic Archie, it relies heavily on line, with flat areas of color. Why did you decide to retain those elements, rather than go in a different direction—something more painterly, maybe?

Overall, it has to retain a classic look. If you paint or render it too much, it starts to look like a different animal. And we don’t want that! 

That said, the new style looks very different. Are there particular elements that you can single out that really influence the style in a different direction?

Well, I think the inks of Ty make it look a little different than usual, and the colors by Andre separate it from the regular classic titles.

What about the compositions and paneling—did that aspect change?

No, but I try to follow Ty’s layout suggestions. He doesn’t overcrowd a page, which I think he understands since he’s an artist too.

Which character was the easiest to adapt into the new style, and who was the trickiest?

Jughead was the easiest to adapt. Kevin was the hardest, since I tried to make him a mix of the show and the comic, and his changes were more subtle, yet harder to draw!

How do you and Ty work together? Do you discuss storylines beforehand? Does he send you a script, or does he give you thumbnails?

Ty is such a pleasure to work with. He sends the script, then after I pencil it I send him scans so he can ink!

How does his inking change your art?

I think he rally flatters my pencils! Being that he is a good artist, he knows where to tweak and where to leave it alone. He’s a true pro.

I know you don’t do the coloring, but because it’s such an important part of the look of the book, I’d like to discuss it briefly. The palette is very different from that of the classic comics. What sort of input did you and Ty have on the colors?

I didn’t have any input on the colors, but I like the palette too. Andre knows his stuff!

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Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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