Archie Andrews may not be able to drive a wedge between Betty and Veronica, but the stress of being a senior in high school might in the upcoming limited series Betty & Veronica. This five-part series debuting December 19 fast-forwards from the current Archie series into senior year, with 'senioritis' in full effect: for both the good and the bad, according to series writer Jamie L. Rotante.
Rotante, an editor at Archie Comics, takes on Betty & Veronica following her work on the recent alt-history Betty & Veronica: Vixens series. Rotante trades in the biker gang aesthetic for a classic high school vibe. Newsarama spoke with Rotante about the new series, working with artist Sandra Lanz, and pulling from her own schooling to inform this return to Riverdale High.
Newsarama: Jamie, you recently wrapped up the alt-reality Betty & Veronica: Vixens and now you're doing a mainstream Betty & Veronica series. How would you compare and contrast the two?
Jamie L. Rotante: They’re two totally different series; Vixens was an alt-world take that gave the girls (almost) limitless power while this new Betty & Veronica takes a more grounded look at the life of a teenager. That being said, it’s still going to have the same elements of humor - especially in the way the characters interact with each other. As with Vixens, the focus of this comic will be on female friendship. There are going to be ups and downs, but Betty and Veronica will always have each other’s backs.
Nrama: You spend your days as an editor at Archie, and by proverbial night write comics. How'd this project come about?
Rotante: One of my favorite parts of my job is getting the opportunity to be in on the ground floor of new series concepts, pitches, scripts, etc. Vixens came about because we were discussing new alternative takes on the characters and I mentioned an idea I had rolling around in my head of the girls forming their own girl gang. In discussions that got elevated to a biker gang, then I was asked if I wanted to write it (as part of my job I often write back copy and specialty features, including pieces in the characters’ voices). Our CEO, Jon Goldwater, loved the concept and gave it the go-ahead. I’m thankful that he also likes the way I write the Betty and Veronica characters, which was how I was chosen for this new series.
Nrama: So getting to it then, what’s going on in Betty & Veronica #1?
Rotante: This series takes place in Betty and Veronica’s senior year of high school, and it will follow them throughout their entire year, with each issue taking place in a different season. Both girls are deciding what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and how their friendship will look after high school. It will also follow other characters' lives during this time, including Toni, Ethel, Midge and Moose, Jughead, Reggie, and yes, even Archie, just to name a few.
Nrama: The days and months before moving off to college. You went to State University of New York - any real-life events inspiring what you write here?
Rotante: My own college experience wasn’t the most interesting; I lived at home and commuted so I wasn’t dealing with fears about moving, distance, etc. But one thing I really wanted to tap into was the sadness of realizing you won’t see your same group of close friends every day. I remember having a few tearful interactions in my friends’ cars those last few days of summer vacation. It’s something you don’t really think about too much during the year because you’re so busy preparing for college. I think having these characters who have spent every day of the last 75 years together having to confront being separated is something worth exploring.
Nrama: You're working here with Sandra Lanz, who did some cover work for Vixens. What made her the right fit for this project?
Rotante: Sandra’s got a great YA sensibility in her art style that lends itself perfectly to this series. She also has a keen sense of style - I love all the clothing choices she makes for the characters!
Nrama: How does this fit within the Archie universe, continuity-wise?
Rotante: To me, this series is in the same universe as Nick Spencer and Marguerite Sauvage’s fantastic Archie #700 relaunch (just later in the timeline). Both serve as a happy in-between of the classic comics and the drama and intrigue of the Riverdale TV series. So, you’ll see the characters going through some hard-hitting moments, but it will also have the same elements of charm and humor as the classic Archie comics.
Nrama: What are your big goals with this new limited series?
Rotante: While this is a mini-series, it’s not out of the question for it to continue afterwards. Ideally, I’d love to continue Betty and Veronica’s adventures in college. If enough people read this mini-series, I hope we can make that happen!