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Debuting last fall, The Art of Betty and Veronica was something new for Archie Comics: It was the first time the 74-year-old company had released a deluxe art book under its own imprint, rather than licensing it to other publishers such as IDW or Dark Horse. Compiled by Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick and writer and comics historian Craig Yoe, the book takes a decade-by-decade look at the two leading ladies of Riverdale.
Gorelick and Yoe are already at work on their next book, The Art of Archie: The Covers, and they’re taking suggestions from fans on what covers to include. You can go to the Archie forums here if you have a cover to submit—or to look at some of the ones that readers have already uploaded.
I talked to Gorelick and Yoe about their collaboration, Gorelick’s 54 years at Archie Comics, the importance of creators, and the new book.
Robot 6: Victor, how did you start with Archie?
Victor: I came in working in the art department, right out of high school; I went to the School of Art and Design, and one of the production people had graduated from that school the year before and they needed a production assistant in the art department to replace Dexter Taylor — he was going to be drawing Little Archie along with Bob Bolling, so he was going freelance, and they needed someone on staff, so they contacted the school, and they sent up a few people from my cartooning class, including myself, for interviews, and I got the job. And the rest is history.
The Art of Betty and Veronica
Edited by Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe
Archie Books, $29.99
It won’t take more than an hour or so to read The Art of Betty and Veronica cover to cover, but it will be a pleasurable hour. And to be honest, it’s not quite as light a read as I expected.
Archie Comics has been criticized in the past for not giving credit to artists and writers, and this book goes a ways toward correcting that. Victor Gorelick, who started at Archie Comics in 1958, kicks things off with an essay about the Archie artists he has met during his tenure, giving a bit of personal insight into each one. There’s also a two-page spread with photos of them, which is another nice touch. I like being able to put a face to the name (although Bob Montana is somewhat obscured in his photo).
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
It’s an odd one for me this week; if I had $15, I’d probably just grab two of DC’s Zero Month books (Batman Incorporated and Flash, both $2.99) and then skip straight to the $30 portion of the week so that I could pick up the Showcase Presents Amethyst, Vol. 1 collection (DC, $19.99), if only to reassure me that the original series was good after last week’s revival.
If I were to splurge, I’d step outside of DC’s purview and go for IDW’s Joe Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition. I was one of the many people who didn’t really “get” Kubert as a kid, but his linework won me over as I got older, and the chance to see some of his best-looking art in “real size” is something that I’d love to be able to embrace.
If I had $15, I’d get Batman Incorporated #0, probably the only DC zero book I’ll get, and Vol. 11 of Yotsuba&!, because I could use some irrepressibly cute manga about an adorable green-haired girl right about now.
If I had $30, I’d put away Yotsuba&! and get Barbara, Osamu Tezuka’s manga about a would-be artist who takes in a lovely but strange homeless woman, only to become convinced that she is his personal muse. I know there was a bit of grumbling that DMP went the Kickstarter route in getting this published, but honestly, I’m just happy to have more Tezuka in print.
What constitutes a splurge purchase? How about six, hardcover, slipcased volumes of Robert Crumb’s sketchbook work, priced at about $1,600, courtesy of the fine folks at Taschen? Yeah, I think buying that would be a “splurge purchase.” It would also constitute sheer madness and a one-way trip to the poorhouse, but at least you’d have all those nice Crumb books to keep you company. I’m sure they’d make a fine pillow.
The judges for the 2012 Eisner Awards have selected The Katzenjammer Kids cartoonist Rudolph Dirks and Archie artist Harry Lucey as this year’s automatic inductees into the Will Eisner Awards Hall of Fame.
Dirks created The Katzenjammer Kids in the late 19th century for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, and wrote and drew the comic strip until 1912, when he decided to take time off to travel around Europe. Hearst replaced Dirks with Harold H. Knerr, leading to a court battle between Dirks and the Hearst organization over who owned the characters. Hearst kept The Katzenjammer Kids, but Dirks was allowed to use the same characters elsewhere as long as he used a different title for the strip. Dirks moved to one of Hearst’s rivals, Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, kicking off a half-century run on The Captain and the Kids. The Katzenjammer Kids, meanwhile, continues to run in newspapers worldwide today. Dirks passed away in 1968.
Harry Lucey began his comics career in the late 1930s, going on to draw Madam Satan, Magno, Crime Does Not Pay, Sam Hill and Captain America. From the 1950s until the 1970s, he was the primary artist for Archie, drawing not only the flagship title but also in-house ads, covers and various other comics for the publisher. His work went on to inspire many current artists, including Jaime Hernandez: “My favorite being Harry Lucey—he did the actual Archie title, while [Dan] DeCarlo did Betty & Veronica. I like them both, but Lucey just happens to be a personal favorite, because I think he was better at drawing natural characters—just their expressions taught me a lot about how I do my comics.” Lucey passed away in 1984.
Each year the judges typically choose two nominees who are automatically inducted into the Hall of Fame, along with a list of nominees who voters can select from. This year they’ve chosen 14 nominees, from which voters will choose four to go into the Hall of Fame: Bill Blackbeard, Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Carlos Ezquerra, Lee Falk, Bob Fujitani, Jesse Marsh, Tarpé Mills, Mort Meskin, Dennis O’Neil, Dan O’Neill, Katsuhiro Otomo, Trina Robbins and Gilbert Shelton. The judges were assisted by students at Vermont’s Center for Cartoon Studies, who made suggestions for Hall of Fame nominees and provided background information on the people they suggested.
The Eisner Awards will be presented during Comic-Con International in San Diego July 12-15.