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75 Years of Archie Comics: Betty & Veronica, American Girls

 

by

Jennifer Susannah Devore

 

To me, Betty and Veronica symbolize something that is so right about America, where two girls from completely different backgrounds can find each other and become the best of friends.

-Johnathan Goldwater, co-founder/publisher Archie Comics

Veronica Lodge has everything endless wealth can provide: a mansion, cars, travel and a trendsetter's wardrobe. She also possesses qualities generally unaffected by means: beauty, intelligence, self-confidence and a supportive family. One wonders, why is she at public school, rather than private? Mother and Father Lodge must raise a privileged child, without letting loose on the world an entitled adult.

Mr. Lodge thinks that ... Veronica is exposed to a more diverse group of students and is hopefully developing some lasting friendships.

- Victor Gorelick, Archie Comics Co-President/Editor-in-Chief

Betty Cooper has everything endless sweetness can provide: loyal friends, a true heart, a clear conscience and altruistic intentions. She also possesses qualities generally unaffected by means: beauty, intelligence, self-confidence and a supportive family.

Old-fashioned, American pluck runs in Betty's family: working-class parents, an investigative-reporter sister, and a secret-agent brother. Old-fashioned, American success runs in Veronica's family: a self-made, multimillionaire father and a generous, elegant mother. Whether inner strength comes via nurture or nature, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge are two girls not to cross. American rules state if you mess with the bull, you get the horns. Betty and Veronica are those horns.

Veronica, admittedly, takes her own sweet time doing the right thing: case in point, Betty & Veronica in Bad Boy Trouble (2007). Whilst she is unarguably the more difficult girl, running hot to cold, vindictive to protective, petulant to pleasing in the blink of a sapphire-blue eye, she always comes around, right to where Betty's been all along.

Individually, Betty and Veronica are enviable high school girls living, relatively, carefree lives in Riverdale, U.S.A.. Like any American town, trouble certainly exists; but here, it's surmountable, not by superpowers, but by self-assurance and, more importantly, the steely bonds of friendship. In a country and era without caste-systems or sumptuary laws, two girls of diametrical socioeconomic status find their BFF in each other. Betty is as welcome in the Lodge mansion as Veronica is in the Cooper abode … although, Veronica would always rather Betty came to her house.

Together, B&V are a spirited sword-and-shield vanquishing foes and deflecting any bad juju disrupting Riverdale's harmony. Whether Veronica is the victim of sartorial espionage or Betty is harassed by a malevolent newcomer, they are as forceful in response as a tornado catapulting cows across an Oklahoma prairie. With a glossy flip of the hair and pearly whites, they can set the world right. In comics, where duos are as ubiquitous as aliases, B&V stand tall and curvy amongst the greatest. Shaggy and Scooby, Batman and Robin, Snoopy and Woodstock, Ernie and Bert, Mickey and Minnie, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Betty and Veronica. Hard to imagine one without the other.

In 1941, America entered WWII, and met Archie and his girls in MLJ Magazines' Pep Comics #22. Archie Comics co-founder John Goldwater created Archie, Betty and Veronica, based on his own youthful experience of an evening with two sisters he had met out west”. The new characters attended Riverdale High under the auspices of Principal Weatherbee, Ms. Grundy and Mr. Flutesnoot. Classmates included Archie's best pal, Jughead Jones, Moose and his girlfriend Midge, and resident jerk, Reggie Mantle. Artist Bob Montana modeled R.H.S. after his alma mater in Haverhill, Massachusetts.

So, take two road-trip chicks, add happy school-days in New England and Archie is as American as summers on Cape Cod, tearful admission prices at Disneyland, Hallowe'en in Salem and a Starbucks addiction.

First introduced under MLJ Magazines - named for founders Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit and John Goldwater - Archie Andrews proved affable enough to merit his own title: Archie #1 (November 1942). Archie stood center-stage, yet it was gorgeous tomboy Betty Cooper and vivacious jet-setter Veronica Lodge whom stole the show.

Archie may have put the company of the map … but for me it's always been about Betty and Veronica. Archie is the steak, Ronnie and Betts are the sizzle.

- Craig Yoe, cartoonist

Like many septuagenarians, B&V have evolved, mostly. The 1940s/1950s pitted Ronnie and Betts as harsh rivals. Vicious, shifty antics were de rigueur to win the heart of dopey Archie, happily out of his league, or really any male. Betty and Veronica #27 (July/August 1947) proffers multiple catfights over a lifeguard, a nerd with a speed boat, and a pair of nylons. Through mid-Century, they spar over Archie, pulling him in opposite directions, sometimes literally, and team up only when Archie's affections fall on another girl. Even in the '90s they launch a bikini-battle for beach business. In Wiener Wars, Betty and Veronica Spectacular #5 (1993) the girls learn sex sells.

Come and get your all American hot dogs, boys!

- Betty, in stars-and-stripes bikini

However, starting with Betty and Veronica #179 (1970), B&V began earnestly contemplating social responsibility. The cover shows more message than midriff as the girls paint protest signs. Archie began highlighting women's liberation, civil rights and ecology, all while keeping B&V sassy and stylish. That style is a timeline of American fashion-zeitgeist.

It started in the 1940s with Old Hollywood couture. Marlene Dietrich and Jane Russell could have modeled for the chiseled jaws, tiny waists and shoulder pads drawn by Archie artists Bill Vigoda, Al Fagaly, Irv Novick and Samm Schwartz.

By the 1950s/1960s, a bouncier Betty and Veronica took shape under Bob Montana. In concert with fellow artists George Frese and Harry Lucey, the girls softened considerably after the 1940s hard-dame look. The post-War curves were softer, but all the more intense, perhaps because Harry Lucey drew the girls nude. (Note: B&V were drawn nude; Lucey did not draw in the nude. Ha!) Like Disney artists studying fawns and rabbits to best mimic nature, Lucey's method produced more natural looking figures, not to mention a treat for inkers. Betty became more Marilyn Monroe, Veronica more Bettie Page.

As the 1960s progressed, so did Archie's art department, adding Dan DeCarlo. Today, if you need to pick B&V out of police lineup, you'll point out the DeCarlo Girls. Under his pen, they became the iconic, comic book characters most recognized: less Hollywood glam, more TV animation, the medium most identifiable with '60s readers. Veronica was still a bombshell, but better suited to pizza at Pop Tate's, rather than descending the spiral staircase in Sunset Blvd. Betty was still a stunner, but better suited to her part-time gig at the garage, rather than enticing libidinous Nazis for bombing codes.

DeCarlo introduced us to all-American girls whom could live next door, depending on your neighborhood. They were, after all, high school girls, not forty-year-old leading ladies. DeCarlo drew the lion's share in the '60s/'70s; but the visions of Dan Parent, Al Hartley, Fernando Ruiz and Jeff Schulz escorted them all the way into the 2000s with verve and attitude.

As with Dietrich and Russell in the '40s, Jennie Garth and Yasmine Bleeth could have served as B&V models through the bubble gum '80s/'90s: approachable, California beach beauties. By the hipper mid-'90s, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Rose McGowan could have served: pretty faces and Pacific Northwest funk via artists Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz.

In the 21stC., Betty and Veronica are their own women, no longer props or prizes for Archie. Maybe they learned self-value from Hermione Granger, Agent Carter, Taylor Swift and 2 Broke Girls. They still compete for Archie, but won't catfight over him today, shredding their clothes as in A Ripping Good Time, Betty and Veronica #158 (1969) … wait, 2 Broke Girls would totally catfight.

In 2015, Archie Comics published New Look” Archie #1, with a new writer: Mark Waid (Daredevil). Waid has the Herculean task of simultaneously keeping B&V contemporary and historic. A 2015 interview with Comic Book Resources unearthed Waid's reverence for Archie.

to approach long-standing franchises with enough respect for its history … it's a huge responsibility … but that makes it sound like grim drudgework, and this is wholly the opposite. This is a blast.

- Mark Waid, Archie Comics

2016 presents Waid with vastly different social cues than those for former writers like Bob Bolling, George Gladir and Kathleen Webb. Regardless of era, Ronnie and Betts' tale remains, simply, enduring friendship … and cuteness.

That cuteness is now in the hands of artists Fiona Staples (Saga) and Annie Wu (Hawkeye). Realistic with a digital hue, “New Look” B&V are more human than cartoon. Traditional Look” titles are still published, but as Archie Digests. However they are drawn, new or traditional, sporting debutante gowns or jeans and baby-tees, Betty and Veronica are an American standard.

On Archie's 75th, in a culture that calls foul with the swiftness of Jughead on a plate of burgers, Archie has one mission: treat our American girls with respect and keep them cute.

 

Contributor bio: Jennifer Susannah Devore lives at the beach, loves Disneyland, watches too much Netflix and is currently prowling the con-floor buying anything Hello Kitty. She authors the 18thC. historical-fiction series Savannah of Williamsburg, the contemporary-fiction The Darlings of Orange County and covers WC/SDCC for GoodToBeAGeek with her BFF Betty.


*A reprint from the Official 2016 Comic-Con Int'l Souvenir Book, editor Gary Sassaman*

 

 

 

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If you’re paying attention to comic-reference specifics on The Big Bang Theory you’ll note one franchise regularly takes a hit: Archie Comics. Jughead, Reggie, Archie and the kids at Pop’s Chocklit Shoppe might be beneath Dr. Sheldon Cooper; yet, he wouldn’t even take notice if Betty and Veronica took up permanent residence with him and Leonard … unless they sat in his spot. Clearly, Not-Dr. Wolowitz would absolutely appreciate America’s hottest sweethearts.

Admittedly, for Yours Truly anyhoo, Archie has been somewhat of a doof for decades. (Of course, so are copious numbers of comic book readers.) Never a moment of ennui with Betty & Veronica, though! Always trendsetters, always beauteous, regardless of the era. Well, the doofy ginger and his crew be undegoin’ a sea change, kittens; some severely need it, some just look even better with age. Archie Comics is taking the very sage opportunity of San Diego Comic-Con (San Diego Convention Center July 21 – 24, 2016) to premiere it’s newest franchise-complement: Riverdale the TV series.

In addition, on the Con floor, Archie Comics artists will be signing various new titles, including Betty & Veronica #1 with its supa kawaii, very San Diego-apropos, casual beach-happy, SDCC-exclusive, variant cover by Adam Hughes (DC Comics,  Playboy, Lucasfilm): $10. If that’s not enough all-American good timin’ for you, stop on by and meet the cast of The CW’s Riverdale at the Archie Comics booth when you pick up your new-and-improved B&V, or any number of new floppies. (Please, see full, con-schedule below.)
With a new TV series, sparkling-new Betty and Veronica, Archie, Archie Horror and a slate of fresh-from-the-vine comics, replete with contempo and classic characters, Archie Comics is set to take its place, once again, as the suburban cul-de-sac of America's fave teenagers, yet this time with a Millennial tint.

Riverdale Pilot/Screening/Q&A (Saturday July 23, 2016 6:30p-7:25p, Rm 6BCF) Riverdale will premiere mid-season on The CW.

Archie Comics Creator-Signing, SDCC 2016 Schedule, Booth #1829

  • Thursday, July 21

1p-2p BETTY & VERONICA: Adam Hughes

3p-4p NEW RIVERDALE: Adam Hughes & Derek Charm

4p-5p ARCHIE ALL-STAR: Dan Parent

5p-6p DARK CIRCLE COMICS: Duane Swierczynski, Adam Christopher, Frank Tieri

  • Friday, July 22

Noon-1p BETTY & VERONICA: Tula Lotay, Tom Bancroft, Colleen Coover, Adam Hughes

1p-2p NEW RIVERDALE: Adam Hughes & Derek Charm

3p-4p ARCHIE ALL-STAR: Dan Parent

4p-5p ARCHIE ACTION: Tyson Hesse

5p-6p ARCHIE HORROR: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

  • Saturday, July 23

10a-11a JUGHEAD: Derek Charm

11a-12p ARCHIE ALL-STAR: Dan Parent

2p-3p BETTY & VERONICA: Adam Hughes

  • Sunday, July 24

10:30a-11a RIVERDALE: Cast TBA

11:30a-12:30p ARCHIE ALL-STAR: Dan Parent

12:30p-1:00p ARCHIE HORROR: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

1p-2p BETTY & VERONICA: Adam Hughes

 

Check back here, and/or follow me @JennyPopNet @GoodToBeAGeek and Instagram for all the geeky goodness at San Diego Comic-Con starting Preview Night at the S.D. Convention Ctr. July 20, 2016!

P.S. For a full history on Betty & Veronica, don’t forget to head upstairs at the ConvCtr, to the Salis Pavillion, to pick up your official, 2016 Comic-Con International Souvenir Book! Our Miss Hannah (aka Jennifer Susannah Devore), hopefully, has her sixth SDCC article in this one: a 75-year retrospective of America's Sweethearts, Betty & Veronica! To read her past, published articles on Catwoman, The Simpsons, Hellboy, Peanuts and Tarzan, visit her SDCC Articles page at JennyPop.net!

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. You sit there, like an idiot, waiting in hair-tugging madness for Netflix to release your fave series' next season. Then, before you've had time to digest it properly and publicly declare it Fresh or Rotten ... blam-O! It's over!

You waited all this time to see who's dead, who hooked up and what they wore while it all happened. Then, in one long weekend, it's over. How the hell did that happen so quickly? All that anticipation and it's done and gone like yesterday's jam. (Wait. That's not right. Jam lasts forever. Init?)

Cheers, kittens! It's Moi, Miss Hannah Hart and like S3 of TURN, S4 of Bates Motel or a 2013 bottle of Coppola Director's Cut Cabernet, Comic-Con will have taunted and tempted you seemingly for-ev-er and then, Poof! ... all that delayed gratification is nothing but a sad ring of residue.

Why the harbinger of so much doom and gloom, Hannah? the fair reader wonders.

Fair point, fair reader. What the captain means to say is, SDCC is coming down the pipe fast, kids: less than two weeks. If I've learned anything in my 116 years of existence (Earthly and otherwise) it's time gets away from you, fast; so don't put off the little things. San Diego Comic-Con is the same thing. It seems like forever to wait, but it'll be here, and gone, before you can say, Bazinga!

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“Comic-Con is the one time of the year when all nerds can set aside their personal opinions and focus on their petty differences … ”

-Will Arnett

Two Daphnes: post-apocalyptic and classic. Photo: JSDevore

Cheers, kittens! ‘Tis July and that means Comic-Con in these here parts! Final touches to costumes, triple-confirming hotel reservations, extra days at the gym and squirreling away all the forgotten pocket-dough you find doing laundry. Oh, wait … how rude of me. You didn’t get a badge? You’re not attending San Diego Comic-Con (San Diego Convention Center, July 21 – 24, 2016)? Oh, dear. Well, in that case …

So, dear reader. Did Badge Quest vanquish you, again? La pauvre. Forget to pre-reg after last year’s Con, so you could at least have the opportunity to be vanquished early on this year, as quickly and easily as a paladin with zero-invisibility? Registered eventually, woke up crazy-early on open-reg, massacre morning, yet still missed out, even on Sunday badges? What a loser. (JK. Not really. K, maybe. No, jk.) In the end, perhaps you just don’t give a f^%$, but someone you really care about does. However it plays out, come the third week in July you are stuck in downtown San Diego with hours to kill, but no badge. Now what?

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San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC, San Diego Convention Center 21 July - 24 July, 2016) is only one month away and few are more excited than Yours Truly, (Miss Hannah Hart) and my fave con-cohort and shutterbug, Dr. Lucy. Naturally, with all those hot and geeky bodies smooshed in such a tight space, naturally the mind wanders to ... security at the San Diego Convention Center. Good news, kittens! You'd be hard-pressed to find a safer spot in San Diego County the third week of July.

Because of all those bodies, the mind-boggling array of fantasy-weaponry and, let's face it, current events, I wanted the lowdown on just how safe and secure the geek masses will be; so I asked. (Always ask, kids. It rarely hurts to ask for what you really want.)

Natch, as is all too sage, no security operation is going to spoon-feed the pubic all the details on what they do, how, when and where they do it. Comic-Con International (CCI) is no exception. What I did get was a satisfying, official statement from Mr. David Glanzer, Chief Communications and Strategy Officer (CCSO) for Comic-Con International. (Did you know Comic-Con has its very own, on-site, police command center? Makes me feel better!)

 

Security is of paramount importance to Comic-Con. And while we don’t discuss specifics of security at Comic-Con, we have a great relationship and work very closely with the San Diego Police Department and other law enforcement officials. This has resulted in routine discussions throughout the year on various aspects of safety and security. We also have an onsite Police Command Post at the convention center during our event.

Additionally, we make a point of having a great many hired security staff, so many in fact, that, oftentimes, we hire security firms from San Diego and other cities. This has necessitated bringing on a security management company to interface with the many different security agencies hired during Comic-Con.

-Comic-Con International

 

Thank you, Mr. Glanzer! Straight from the unicorn's mouth. It certainly assuages most of my concerns. Forget not, a great deal of security is in our hands, as attendees: following proper weapons-check, keeping hands to ourselves and just basic good manners. Need a refresher? My SDCC2014 post, "Boobs Are Not Bunnies", will help.

 

 

 

Abysinnia, kids!

 

Check back here, and/or follow me @JennyPopNet @GoodToBeAGeek and Instagram for all the geeky goodness at San Diego Comic-Con, starting Preview Night at the S.D. Convention Ctr. July 20, 2016!

 

 

 

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    As single mother Anna mourns her son's death, Jeanne, a stranger claiming to be his lover arrives for a visit -- unaware of his demise. Withholding the unspeakable truth for as long as possible, Anna begins to grow close to Jeanne.

Theme from Savannah of Williamsburg: The Trials of Blackbeard and His Pirates (Book II)

Blackbeard's Chanty:"Me Cup is Broke!"Music by PBIII, lyrics by Jennifer Susannah Devore

Meet Miss JennyPop

Jennifer Susannah Devore

Jenny Pop is the acclaimed Author of the Savannah of Williamsburg series of books and The Darlings of Orange County. In addition, Jen is a prolific consumer of media and pop culture. Never leaving the house without her journal and fave Waterman pen, an old-fashioned, analog book (usually Hunter S. Thompson) and a fresh coat of lipstick, she is constantly on the hunt for fun, espresso, animation  and comics of any kind and always ready for an impromptu day at Disneyland.  JennyPop.net is a natural extension of  Jen's World; so, spend some time visiting. You'll have fun, she promises!

Meet The Darlings

The Darlings of Orange County

The sexy, cashmere beaches of southern California aren't always what they seem. The dirty little secret here is what it takes to survive. Everyone has a trick up their silk sleeve. Liz Lemon meets Parker Posey, Veronica Darling is smart enough to know what it takes and is willing to soil her soul to bring Hollywood to the California Riviera. The Darlings of Orange County is a salacious, hilarious, harrowing romp chock full of eco-terrorism, horse-racing scandals, weed deals and the obligatory lipstick-lesbian affair that inevitably leads to murder. It all climaxes in a white-knuckled, glitzy, celebrity-stacked Laguna Beach Film Premiere that spells success for Veronica Darling and trouble for her friends and family.

Meet Miss Savannah Squirrel

Savannah Prudence Squirrel

Savannah Prudence Squirrel

Meet Miss Savannah of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia. Equal parts Amelia Earhart, Lucy Honeychurch, Scarlett O'Hara and Miss Piggy, Savannah is a scholar, adventurer and a lady. Moreover, she is a pebble in the silver-buckled shoe of injustice and with her best pals she is not a squirrel to challenge. She carries  the Magna Carta in one paw and the latest Parisian silk bag in her other. Whether fighting to end slavery, arguing for freedom of the press or scheming to end a duel, Miss Savannah does so with wit and persistence. Read more to meet her best friends and accomplices: Ichabod Wolfgang and Dante Marcus Pritchen. Prepare to also meet pirates, a Venetian fox and an Irish gull, The Commodore!

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Meet Miss Hannah

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

Hannah Hart, ghost dame of the Hotel del Coronado

So, here's the low down, all you Joes and Janes ... I'm Hannah Hart, dead girl. Don't fret, it's actually a sweet dish being dead. Having perished in 1934 in a terrifically vicious accessories incident with actress Ida Lupino, I reside where I died: San Diego's gorgeous Hotel del Coronado. It ain't a bad gig at all, really! Great weather, swanky guests (not to mention a few fellow ghosties), amazing amenities, my own private turret overlooking the sea and all the java juice and giggle water I can handle; plus, these bartenders know how to make a Planter's Punch like nobody's business! See, I've been waiting for this Internet thing forever ... now, instead of slamming doors and moving lamps, I get to wag my tongue all I like at goodtobeageek.com

Abyssinia, kids!