Contributors: Dan Parent, Jim Amash, Hy Eisman, Mindy Eisman, Barry Grossman, Rich Koslowski, Jack Morelli, Kathleen Webb, Bill Yoshida, and Digikore Studies
The Archie 75 Series reprints a selection of comics that best represent the character in hand – in this case, Veronica Lodge. WWAC has had Team Betty vs. Team Ronnie throwdowns before, but ultimately we love ’em both. Laura Harcourt and Ginnis Tonik, who grew up on Archie comics, decided to review Archie 75 Series: Veronica together to determine if it is in fact the best representation of the Veronica Lodge we all love.
(Note: This review is based on an advanced review copy from the publisher and may contain spoilers.)
Ginnis Tonik: As a long time Archie Comics fan, especially a Betty and Veronica fan, how did reading these stories make you feel?
Laura Harcourt: These stories brought me straight back to my teen years, during which Betty and Veronica and their assorted adventures featured heavily. I always loved the Veronica stories set outside Riverdale. Ronnie is the only regular Archie character to travel the world, and her stories often give readers a chance to experience the glamour of Paris or the history of Tokyo, and learn a little something about a culture outside the Americana in which Archie Comics usually exists.
There’s always a sense of excitement in Veronica’s solo adventures which is often lacking from the rest of the gang: Ronnie has run-ins with globally infamous jewel thieves, steals the hearts of princes and sons of oil barons, and does it all with the style and poise only a Lodge can possess. It’s fun to go gallivanting around the world with her, and just as fun to watch her navigate Riverdale society. Ronnie commits multiple faux pas in her interactions with her middle class pals, but she’s goodhearted and will always try to smooth things over, usually with an innocently exorbitant gift.
Ginnis: Yes, and as she travels the world, we get to learn more about these cultures in cheesy exposition! I kind of love the “hey, kids, in Germany, Christmas customs are so-and-so,” type speech bubbles. I imagine as a kid I found it incredibly fascinating and committed the facts to memory so I could recite them to others in a display of knowledge, because even as a wee one, I was pretentious. I vividly remember her debut issue because of the fashion in it. I was obsessed with Parisian fashion, which probably has a lot to do with Ronnie forever being in my heart! Had you read any of the stories before?
Laura: I hadn’t read any of these stories before, but they really are the platonic ideal of Veronica stories: jet-setting, romantic intrigues, getting dizzy about a boy (boys getting dizzy about her). I’ve always loved Ronnie’s “Parisian fashion,” and how hair-raising it usually is, and this one is no different! As our jewel thief would say: “zut alors!” I wish there had been a little more Riverdale in this collection, but it makes sense that a dedicated Ronnie book would be more global in scope. Still, I think they could have chosen a few stories that really showcase that big generous heart underneath her couture coats! Do you think these stories showed us the real Veronica?
Ginnis: I think that’s a fair critique — it goes more with the stereotype of Ronnie, even though there are quite a few good stories out there about her softer side. I saw that a bit in “Veronica in Germany,” but not really anywhere else. I would have liked more stories with Betty because I love when those two interact, and a lot of those stories show both Ronnie’s worst side and her best side. What do you think about the the frequent little implications that Veronica doesn’t really care about Archie, she just wants to be Betty?
Laura: I wish there were more with Betty! Betty and Veronica are so inextricably connected in my head that it’s always a little weird to see one without the other. You bring up a really interesting point: I always think of Ronnie as someone who is extremely self-assured, but she absolutely does fall prey to wishing she could be a little more Betty-like. I always enjoy the stories where Ronnie tries to cook or sing or play a sport like Betty (and inevitably ends up cheating), because it makes me feel a little more connected to Ronnie. I, too, fall short when I try to be Betty! It makes her a little more human and approachable, when it would be so easy to make her the inaccessible, impossible aspiration.
Something else I love about Ronnie is that she loves Archie, but doesn’t let that stop her from playing the field. Some people find her flighty because of her many boyfriends, but why should she settle? What are your feelings on the Veronica/Archie OTP vs. Veronica/any handsome dude she comes across?
Ginnis: I don’t know if I think Ronnie loves Archie, or she just loves winning, and I think that is a part of why she plays the field. She’s competitive and ambitious, and even a little ruthless, which I appreciate about her, so playing the field just suits her personality. But, I mean, I ship Ronnie and Betty, of course! Archie is just the intermediary for their unresolved queer feelings in my headcanon. What are your thoughts on queering Archie and the comics’ history of “diversity”?
Laura: I’m not going to tell anyone not to ship Betty and Veronica (I sometimes do, myself!), but personally, I appreciate that they’re a solid example of female friendship, which is something I think often gets pushed aside in favor of catfighting or romance. But one great thing about Archie Comics is that you can read the relationships in all sorts of different ways, and all perspectives are valid.
Ginnis: The thing is, Archie Andrews is probably the least interesting character of all! It’s the surrounding characters that make Archie compelling, and I still feel I am not getting that from the characters of color. Veronica, Betty, Jughead, and Kevin have been getting more attention – but they are all white. Riverdale is this Americana brand, even a utopia in some ways, and to truly be a utopia it needs to truly represent the diversity of America. Where do you want to see the brand go?
Laura: I just want to see Archie and all its characters beloved by a new generation! For now, I’m just happy to see the steps forward, the creatively risky spin-offs, and, of course, this celebration of Veronica Lodge. Whatever happens next for Archie Comics as a company, and for these characters that we all love so much, I’m just looking forward to another 75 years!
Ginnis: What are your thoughts on the casting of Ronnie for the Riverdale TV show? They cast Camila Mendes in the role and specifically sought a Latinx actress, from what I understand.
Laura: I don’t have a lot of feelings on it one way or the other. When the casting calls came out for Riverdale and described Ronnie as a “silver-tongued stunner” and noted that producers hoped to cast a Latinx, I worried she was going to go down the trope of “spicy, sexy Latina” that we all know so well. Judging from the BTS cast photos, she doesn’t seem to be characterized that way, which is a relief, but it’s impossible to say without seeing the show (or even a teaser!). Still, I’ll be happy to see Ronnie and the rest of the gang on my TV screen! It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time and I’m hopeful it’ll be good…although we’ll always have the double digests, just in case.