Welcome to Cover Girl. Each month, we gather a team of WWAC contributors to analyze a new and notable comic book cover featuring one or more women. This month, Kate and Claire discuss the Bill Tucci cover of Archie and Katy Keene #1 from Archie Comics.
What is your initial reaction to this cover as a piece of comics art?
Kate Tanski: Okay, so I just reread the first issue of the Katy Keene Digest from 1987, which had the most gorgeous on-trend fashions, so to see this is just…so disappointing. What is this outfit she’s wearing? It looks like a Project Runway designer’s failed outfit. The pattern on the fabric is hideous, and the construction is even worse. A strapless jumpsuit with an oddly-placed train, and then, to make it even worse, let’s have it look like she’s a figure skater by having the jumpsuit fabric go over her high heels. And the jewelry is just…what? An anklet, bracelet, choker, and extremely big earrings all matching? No. No. No. It would make a great skating outfit for Johnny Weir and that’s the best thing I can say about it. It’s so out of touch not only with current fashion but with the character. It also looks like her left arm is a tentacle and her right arm is amputated just above the elbow. How do you get so many things wrong?
Claire Napier: I… disagree! I mean, no—it’s not immediately, obviously, “right now.” But it is very fashion. Funny thing, the pattern on the skintight and the 1992ishness of the pose have me immediately thinking “Pucci”—so the signature that actually says “Tucci” but looks quite a lot like it starts with a P sent me wondering if they somehow… did that. I guess they didn’t, but it was a fun AU I lived in for a moment.
As I said, it’s very, very 1992; printed bodysuit and printed scarf with big jewellery and big hair. And 1992 is pretty retro-returning, at the moment-ish! Not in a primary way, maybe, and throwback streetwear isn’t tapping this exact vein… but I think it’s an interesting enough, connectable enough cover to make *me* take a second look at the book. I’m kind of a sucker for that exact moment in catwalk, if I’m honest. I don’t know anything about Katy Keene, but now I’m open to learning. The alliterating name and this cover tell me she’s a fashion girl (I’d guess model?). While I don’t have a great deal of faith in American monthly fashion comics, I want to, so I’d probably pick this up to give it a flip through if I saw it in a shop.
What do you think the artist is trying to achieve?
Kate: There’s a slight 1960s psychedelic poster aesthetic to it, so my guess is that the artist was trying to reference her 60s roots and make it modern, but it feels like a male gazey album cover a stoner would have in their bedroom or college dorm.
Claire: Having wiki’d Katy Keene, I think he was aiming for what I got: a model, modelling! I do think it could probably be slightly less apparently boob-taped and highest-heeled. Those two elements hog the white space and subsequently dominate the image, which does give it a bit of a “this is for the viewer more than the viewed” feel—something many of us learn to avoid out of a desire for a nice-feeling life. As a younger reader I’d have viewed this cover with deep suspicion for those reasons.
Give this outfit a name.
Kate: Lucy in the Sky with a Tentacle Arm
Claire: Gucci-Tucci-Prada, and Archie!
Archie and Katy Keene #1 is available now.