The Interview: Archie Comics EIC Victor Gorelick
When you spend a half-century at arguably the oldest humor comics firm in America, you pick up a little something. Or rather, at least a little of most everything. VICTOR GORELICK got in the door at Archie Comics as an art assistant at age 16. Now in his late 60s, he's done everything from writing to coloring to art direction -- before becoming editor-in-chief and co-president at the Westchester County-based company. Among his honors, he received an Inkpot Award at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con.
Gorelick has helped Archie make headlines of late with the news by today's new comic, Issue No. 600, in which Archie fast-forwards to five years in the future, where he'll propose -- somewhat controversially -- to Veronica. Comic Riffs caught up with Gorelick to talk shop (if not malt shops):
MICHAEL CAVNA: You've seen most of the history of Archie Comics transpire since you started there a half-century ago. How did you get started?
VICTOR GORELICK: At age 16: I came to work here right out of high school. i started working in the art department -- making corrections, learning the business. I starting learning how to color, to ink. The company was being run by two of the original founders: John Goldwater and [Louis] Silberkleit.
MC: So now, as editor in chief, how did the storyline come about in which Archie would propose to Veronica?
VG: I worked on this with Mike Uslan, We [once] worked on a book called "The Best of Archie." He went to become an executive producer of the Batman films. Being a big comic fan, he wanted to write something for Archie.
I said: I have this 600th issue coming up -- let's do something. He came in with this idea of Archie getting married. I said: "What, are you crazy? I have to really think about it." Five minutes [later], I thought i was a really good idea, so I said: Let's go for it.
MC: So does this six-part series cover Archie and Veronica's marriage, then having kids? And is Betty then out of the picture?
VG: You really have to read the story to weigh the whole thing. It takes place five years into the future. ... [After they've graduated from] the University of Riverdale.
MC: And what was the process for you and Mike?
VG: We spent a lot of time on it. Michael presented me with some outlines and we went over the story -- word for word, page by page, panel by panel, balloon by balloon. And he said: "To start out, let it be Veronica."
MC: You say "to start out." Does that mean Betty might have a shot at Archie later?
VG: We're in lockdown at Archie Comics. I can't say. I'm not being able to go home for six months. [Laughing.] It's imprisonment.
MC: What's the reaction to the "proposal" storyline been like so far?
VG: Overall, it's been a very positive response. An overwhelming respnse. There's also been a very large response [from people] being disappointed that he proposed.
MC: Having lived with these characters for 50 years, how would you characterize them? As comic personalities, what do they symbolize?
VG: Veronica has always had Archie wrapped around her finger, telling him what to do. Betty's always been so nice to him. Betty helps him with homework, with cars -- with life.
MC: You had to know that having Archie propose to Veronica would particularly stir interest and agitate some fans.
VG: We knew it might be controversial. We wanted to do something exciting. But we can't do what comics like Superman or Batman do and kill off Archie. Seven [decades] of people have been reading this.
MC: Did you print more issues than usual, anticipating demand?
VG: We printed about four times the usual amount, which is 35,000.
MC: Archie has changed some with the times, yet in other ways not. How do you weigh any decisions to fully contemporarize Archie?
VG:There are certain things we stay away from. We produce a good, clean wholesome product -- there's not a lot of antisocial behavor. That's helped to make [and keep] Archie popular. There are no metal detectors and police walking around at Riverdale High.
LATER THIS MORNING:
THE READER POLL: Betty or Veronica? Which Is It?
THE RELATED READ:
ARCH RIVALS: As Archie Sidles Up to a Bride, Why Does the "Betty or Veronica" Debate Ring Eternal?
| August 19, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Interviews With Cartoonists
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