Another kerfluffle we haven’t really had a chance to investigate is the Archie redesign. Basically the other day Archie announced they would be trying a LIMITED experiment with an updated look for the Riverdale gang, one designed by artist Stephen Butler. The Wall Street Journal investigates with an article whose title is taken from a Newsarama poster:Gee Whiz! ‘Archie’ Gets a New Look; Does Betty Resemble an Olsen Twin? Sadly we don’t make enough money to subscribe to the WSJ, but we can quote the lede:
After 65 years, Archie, Betty, Veronica and friends are, for better or worse, growing up.
The publisher of “Archie” comics plans to experiment with changing the way the characters look to make them appear more sophisticated, and the news has already drawn heat from loyalists in Web forums who have seen the new incarnations.
Reaction around the web has best been summed up as the blog cliche, mouth throwing up.
Now we like Butler just fine — we may have even hired him back when we worked at Disney, or something. Archie made a tryout page of Butler’s pencils available to us, but stressed that they were not perfect — the girls are too thin. But it is the look they were going for.
Click for a larger version.
Now, we don’t know how Archie sales are these days, or whether the franchise has any appeal to today’s younglings. Certainly, the romantic misadventures of high school students in comic form have great appeal. (*cough* manga *cough*). This tryout page is a little more manga-esque than the cover more widely circulated, but the storytelling has nothing to do with manga. Certainly it’s clean, comforting cartooning. Will it appeal to kids? It’s only a four issue test, so we’ll all be watching closely.