debbie millman

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

How Is This Possible?

betty and veronica
Originally uploaded by debbie millman.
When I was growing up, I was obsessed with The Archies. Correction, I was obsessed with Betty and Veronica. I poured through racks of comics looking for the special "Betty and Veronica" issues, analyzed their outfits, waited with breathless anticipaton every time "Sugar Sugar" came on the radio to hear their one line solos, and fretted away hours wondering the following:

--why did Archie like Veronica better, when Betty was obviously so much nicer?
--why didn't Betty ever wear her hair down (like Veronica)?
--why was Veronica's hair black AND blue?
--if "Ronnie" was Veronica's nickname, what was Betty's?

Alas, at least for one issue, Betty and Veronica (and the entire Riverdale crew) have been redesigned. An entire new analysis will need to begin anew, by a new crop of young girls. In the meantime, you can read about the redesign at Media Bistro:

"Over the weekend, comics industry news site Newsarama reported that Archie Comics will adopt a new style, altering the basic appearance of Archie and the rest of the Riverdale gang for the first time in...well, ever, as far as I can tell. At right, I've grafted the classic Betty and Veronica onto the cover art unveiling their new look, but look at what they've done to Archie! (Note: I've adjusted the brightness and contrast levels from the original artwork—which I should point out is not yet completed—to make it more readily visible.) Comics fans have been voicing skepticism, mostly along the lines of "it if aint [Dan] DeCarlo style, it just ain't Archie to me," but there've also been some more substantial concerns raised: "Archie seemingly has a normal everyday physique, while B&V look like twigs that could snap in two," says one commenter. "I realize that comic books aren't known for their realistic anatomy, but comics like this specifically designed to court younger, and female, readers really should take care to not indoctrinate such a double standard."

Comics shop owner Mike Sterling offers a guardedly optimistic analysis: "This new less-cartoony style might possibly keep some of the readers around a little longer, as it may appear less like a 'kid's book' and more like a contemporary teen romance/comedy on par with some of the manga books they might be reading as well." On the other hand, his commenters are speculating as to whether this is "New Coke all over again." We shall see!

UPDATE: The Archie folks would like to emphasize, because they've been getting a lot of worried feedback, that this "new look" is actually only going to be used for one storyline for now, and is not a complete makeover of the entire franchise."


Blogger Jennifer said...

If you haven't already, you should listen to the Mary Lou Lord/Semisonic cover of "Sugar Sugar." It kicks much ass!

12/21/2006 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is the worst ever. i'm a 15 year old freshman in high school, and i used to read Archie comics when i was younger. I love these comics so much. But now they're modeling Betty and Veronica after Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan. What the hell is the bunch load of crap? Do they not realized that Britney Spears is a slut and whore? And do they not listen to the news enough to know that Lindsay Lohan is a party girl, and has been arrested for drinking and driving before? Again, what the hell is wrong with them??!! Grrrrrr this upsets me that they are trying to make Betty and Veronica more like celebrities to sell more issues. I liked that Betty and Veronica were unique, and couldn't be compared to celebrities by drugs and alchohol. this messes all of Archie comics up.

~A very upset teenager~

12/21/2006 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger brand 'em' said...

Growing up in my teens years ago, I used to collect comic books. And from what I can recall flipping through my collection then was that Betty and Veronica, the Archie Comic Series in general, is a comic book icon that looked much different in artwork and style compared to the uniform-clad heroes of Marvel and DC comics. The Archies had this look about them that was simple and inviting to everyone.

In the late 1950s (roughly around then, I think), a professional comic book artist by the name of Neal Adams got his start drawing Archies. Adams then went on to revolutionize the industry with his realistic rendering style (which has influenced many of today’s artists including Alex Ross).

Currently, Cougar Paper is running a print ad campaign based on illustrators, and Adams is one of the featured illustrators.

If they are just now trying to rebrand B and V, then it’s about time—for example, Batman and Superman have been rebranded many times, especially in the film versions.

12/22/2006 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger debbie millman said...

hey jennifer--you are right! kicks ass! thanks!
happy holidays!~

12/27/2006 06:48:00 AM  

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Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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