Archie Comics has just published its first in-house hardcover art book, and not surprisingly, its two favorite female characters are headlining.
The Art of Betty and Veronica showcases the changes the two beloved characters have gone through over the last 70 years, as well as spotlighting the artists who have drawn Archie over the years.
The book represents the first time Archie has put together its own hardcover art book. "We were sitting around and having a meeting and we realized, 'We're a book publisher! So why not publish some really nice, hardcover books?'" said Victor Gorelick, Archie Comics editor-in-chief and co-president. "IDW has done some books for us under license, and Dark Horse, but we wanted to start doing some books on our own."
Gorelick co-edited the book with comics’ archivist Craig Yoe, organizing the information and artwork by decades. As a result, the book chronicles changes in fashion trends and comic art style.
"That's one the things that kept Archie so relevant through the years, the fact that each decade, the characters were written and drawn keeping in mind what was going on each decade, with the fashions and the different fads that went on during each decade," Gorelick said.
The editor said some artists used teen magazines for reference, and writers often requested specific fads be incorporated into the artwork. "Dan DeCarlo, who really raised the bar, as far as the look of Archie and the other characters — he used to keep all kinds of fashion magazines and teen magazines around the studio, for reference for what he drew," Gorelick said.
By featuring art by industry greats like Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey, Bob Montana, Dan Parent and more, the book traces the evolution of comic book art.
"Certainly, the printing on the artwork got a lot better over the years, but so has the quality of the artwork," Gorelick said. "As artists came in, the older artists would pretty much set the standard for them to work toward and try to improve upon."
The book also gives Gorelick the opportunity to share stories about some of the most well-known artists in Archie history, drawing upon his more than 50 years at the company.
"I've been working with Archie since 1958, and that's a long time," the editor reminisced. "We tried to represent as many artists as we could in this book.
I got to know all these artists. And unfortunately, a lot of them aren't with us anymore. But we have a couple of young artists who are featured in this book too. Some that are still working on the book today."
The book is being distributed through Random House, so Gorelick said it's being stocked in major bookstores. In fact, he and co-editor Yoe have been doing book-signings at various locations for the past couple weeks.
The audience for the book is pretty diverse, Gorelick said, because so many people are aware of Betty and Veronica. "There have even been women's magazines through the years that have referenced Betty and Veronica," he said. "Basically, what they ask is, 'Are you a Betty? Or are you a Veronica?,' whether it has to do with their personality or the way they dress or the make-up they put on."
In fact, Gorelick revealed that Archie is working with MAC Cosmetics on a line of Betty and Veronica-based make-up called "MAC Archie's Girls," due to launch later this year. "Archie and all these characters have become part of American culture over all these years," he said.
There are also plans for more hardcover books from Archie, including The Art of Archie Covers and an Archie 75th anniversary collection, due in 2016. "It took us about a year to get this whole thing together, from beginning to end, from when we first started until it was printed. We have to start working on our 75th anniversary book — it's four years down the road, so we're already a little bit behind schedule," Gorelick said with a laugh.
Gorelick and Yoe will next appear for a book signing on Thursday, Jan. 10, at The Strand Bookstore on Broadway in New York, NY, from 7 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit the event site on Facebook.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!