Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #345
Cover by Dan Parent.

In a new story included in Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #345, “Christmas is Canceled,” written by Ron Cacace with art & letters by Rex Lindsey and colors by Glenn Whitmore, Scam Likely makes the leap from Bite Sized Archie to main continuity!

Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #345 is scheudled for publication this Wednesday, on November 8th, 2023. To mark the occasion, The Beat caught up with Cacace over email. We asked all about the origins of Scam Likely, what challenges accompany writing longer Archie Comics stories when compared to the Bite Size variety, and about what goes into writing a holiday-themed Riverdale tale!

AVERY KAPLAN: What was it like to make the leap from writing Bite Sized Archie to a story in Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #345? How did you come to write this story?

RON CACACE: Would you believe me if I told you that I envisioned that it would happen? One day, earlier this year, I sat at my desk and thought, “I would love to write a 5-page story for November’s issue of the ARCHIE JUMBO COMICS DIGEST featuring Jughead Jones and Big Ethel.” 

Within minutes, I received an email from the fine folks at Archie Comics asking if that was something I wanted to do.

Okay, not really. In actuality, I was talking about the character Scam Likely with Archie Editor-in-Chief Mike Pellerito, and if we could do something to introduce him into the traditional Archie mythos . . . I was very happy to oblige when they reached out later with this opportunity. 

Christmas is Canceled page 1 by Ron Cacace, Rex Lindsey and Glenn Whitmore.

KAPLAN: Were there any challenges or rewards in writing a longer story? 

CACACE: The biggest challenge was having more space to tell jokes and string the narrative along. I’ve become quite accustomed to the four-panel cadence with BITE SIZED ARCHIE, the weekly webcomic series I work on with artist Vincent Lovallo, so being able to stretch the story out across multiple pages was a new experience for me. It was a fun one, though, and once I got to the final page, I was wishing I had even more space to wrap things up.

KAPLAN: Is there any difference in writing a comic that will appear on the internet first as compared to one that will first appear in print?

CACACE: The biggest difference is the turnaround time. The way that things work on BITE SIZED ARCHIE, I’ll write a script, send it over to Vincent so he can tackle the artwork, and about 4-8 weeks later the finished product will be online for everyone to read. It makes it easier to jump on trends and memes that way as you’re not worrying about print dates or release windows. There’s a much longer runway for a print comic that necessitates more waiting.

KAPLAN: Did you get choose the main characters? If so, what made you want to go with Big Ethel and Semi-Private Eye Jughead? Did you discover anything about these characters while writing the story?

CACACE: I was given some direction from the folks at Archie on who we should feature, most notably Ethel. It was originally going to be much more focused on Scam Likely (the new character we introduced in BITE SIZED ARCHIE earlier this year) but we tweaked it to be about Ethel and Jughead solving a mystery around Christmas. I loved the Semi-Private Eye stories by Alex Simmons and Rex and really wanted to lean in that direction. I was thrilled that the team at Archie was on board and let me do that!

KAPLAN: What was it like to include Scam Likely in a longer Archie story? Can you tell our readers a bit about the origin of this character?

CACACE: I was on vacation in Florida earlier this year and was thinking up scenarios for BITE SIZED ARCHIE. I was looking to do something with Reggie Mantle, who is well-known for his pranks, schemes, and scams. The idea of a character named Scam Likely attending Riverdale High was just a jump away from that idea, and I’m so happy with how that comic turned out — the response was great. Fans keep demanding more Scam and I’m happy to give it to them.

KAPLAN: How did you react upon seeing the finished art by Rex Lindsey with colors by Glenn Whitmore? Did any panel get a particularly big laugh out of you?

CACACE: It was a dream come true to get to work with Rex & Glenn. When I initially found out that Rex would be doing the pencils & letters, I was ecstatic, as he was the one who first brought the Semi-Private Eye Jughead Jones stories to life in the pages of JUGHEAD. 

When I got the first look at the artwork, I was incredibly impressed by how Rex staged each page and filled in the background details. His rendition of the characters is quintessential Archie Comics and his Riverdale feels like a vibrant, living stage. Rex does all the lettering, too, which is even more impressive in this case because I wrote a really wordy script, and he nailed the entire thing perfectly.

Glenn’s coloring is the cherry on top as he’s an Archie mainstay and legend. There’s a reason people call him Captain Clockwork: he’s always on time and is right where you need him to be when you need him to be there.

KAPLAN: What kind of challenges come with writing a holiday story? Do you have any favorite Archie Xmas stories to which you turned for inspiration?

CACACE: I’m a big fan of the weirder Archie Comics Christmas stories; stuff with Jingles the Elf, Santa Claus, Noelle Claus, and the sort. I wanted to do something that was a bit different than the typical holiday story, so going with a mystery was my way of trying to stand apart from the pack. The other cool thing about this being a Christmas story is that the digest makes the perfect stocking stuffer. With that said, I just figured out what I’m getting my friends this year! 

KAPLAN: Is there anything else you’d like me to include?

CACACE: Fans: If you liked reading this story, please let the folks at Archie know you want to see more stories by me! If you didn’t like it, please don’t tell anyone about it. I don’t want my feelings hurt. 

Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #345 will be available at your local comic shop, public library and/or supermarket check-out lane on Wednesday, November 8th.