Archie Andrews debuted in 1941's Pep Comics #22, and in the upcoming limited series Archie 1941 him and the Riverdale gang are being reimagined in that timeframe, as part of the Greatest Generation.
And you guessed it, Archie is going to war... and Reggie Mantle is with him.
Long-time collaborators Mark Waid, Brian Augustyn, and Peter Krause have been enlisted to take this earnest idea and develop it into a five-issue story that reflects the time and reimagines Archie and the others through that lens.
Newsarama spoke with Waid and Krause about this World War II-era story, and how Riverdale has gone from nostalgic to modern and back to the iconic 1940s era.
Newsarama: How did the idea to re-set Archie and the gang into 1941 come about?
Mark Waid: It was an in-house suggestion — I got a call from Archie Comics Co-President Mike Pellerito positing it about a year ago. I immediately set to work doing an outline, the idea was so compelling.
Nrama: Beyond the superficial, how different are the 1940s Riverdale teens versus the classic version and the modern version?
Waid: As much as I love the modern-day interpretation of the kids, this story in a way gives them additional emotional depth that surprised me. The stakes are just so high in this story.
Nrama: My father was a teen in the 1940s and served in World War II. I know this is only five issues and in 1941, but is enlisting a thought for Archie, Jughead and the others in this?
Waid: It would be the only way to get them into action - draft age was 21, not 18, at the time. But some will enlist, some will be asked to serve, and at least one of the boys will man the homefront.
Nrama: In the initial annoucement, you mentioned this not only gives a new perspective to the Riverdale teens but also the parents. Can you shed some light on that?
Waid: Brian in particular has done a great job of envisioning how each of the parents operate during this time. It was a unique time in American history with anti-interventionists making a great and patriotic case to not get involved in Europe before Pearl Harbor and interventionists seeing this as a moral calling. This philosophy divides Riverdale on many levels.
Nrama: It may be lost on some, but Archie debuted in 1941 - how much did you go back and look at those World War II era stories?
Waid: A bunch, mostly for the slang of the time.
Nrama: Peter, what kind of research did you do for the 1941 aesthetic?
Krause: Sears catalog reprints, FSA (Farm Security Administration) photos, and just a wealth of websites dedicated to the era. The Des Moines, Iowa public library has posted online high school yearbooks going back through the 1920s - those 1941 yearbooks were great for looking up hairstyles. Thank you, interwebs!
Nrama: Mark said he’s looking back at the early Archie comics of the time… Are you inspired by the way comics - and Archie Comics of the time - were drawn and paneled for Archie 1941?
Krause: That is a great question, and I had not even thought of doing that. I’m still drawing the final issues - if it works for the storytelling perhaps I could weave that in. But it cannot be gimmicky - storytelling comes first.
Nrama: How much process work did you do outside of the finished pages?
Krause: I work all digitally now. It’s a huge time-saver and I can bring a bit of the process right into the finished pages. If something doesn’t work, out it goes without ripping up a whole day’s worth of work. But as far as getting ready for the project, I sketched out the principals for Mike beforehand. Other than doing rough layouts a few pages at a time, that’s about it.
Nrama: I believe this is your first pairing with colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick - how has the collaboration been so far?
Krause: I’m not the easiest guy to color. I don’t always close off shapes, so flatting my work has to be a nightmare. That said, Kelly is doing a fantastic job. She doesn’t overpower the lines - the best colorists complement and enhance the inks. There’s almost a newsprint color aesthetic to her approach, and that is really appropriate for a story set in the 1940s.
Nrama: Mark - This is a continuation of your multi-year run on Archie, but Brian and Peter are new faces to the run. How did they come to be involved?
Waid: Both of them are not only past collaborators of mine (Brian on Flash, Peter on Irredeemable and Insufferable), but they make me look better than I am.
Krause: Like Mark said earlier, the idea had been bubbling up in the Archie headquarters for some time. Mark had given me the heads up in 2017. Meanwhile, I’d drawn a few covers for Archie and when they were ready to move on it Mike Pellerito reached out. The whole idea of the series is just a slam-dunk. No way I could pass that up!
Nrama: This is your finale on Archie for the time being as a new team takes over with Archie #700... but I have to say that the concept of Archie 1941 is hotbed for continuation should the fans - and you creators - be interested. What do you see in this as a franchise?
Waid: I’d love for this to be successful. Summer of Love, here we come!
Nrama: Archie 1967? I’d buy that. Archie 2099 after that? Wait, wrong company…
Big picture then, what are your goals for this?
Krause: I approach this like any job I’m hired for, in that I’m trying to improve on my previous project. Mark and Brian have brought a depth to the characters that perhaps hadn’t been evident in the past. If Kelly and I can take this story and make it look good, I think the readers are in for a fun and thoughtful time.
Waid: I’d be happy just telling a good story... but I’d be lying if I didn’t want this to become a best-seller in the Archie catalog.