With issue #5, the Riverdale gang says good-bye to Fiona Staples as artist, and hello to Veronica Fish. She sat down with us to talk about her debut tomorrow in Archie #5, taking over a book in progress, how making a comic book funny is all about timing, and how lettering is an underappreciated art.
How’d you first come to Archie?
When the reboot was forming Chip Zdarsky recommended my work to them and they asked me to do a few test character designs before going further. I tried not to chew off all my nails waiting to hear back. They offered me another job actually, then that changed to Archie itself. So that’ll be going on the epitaph.
What’s your approach to humor? How is making a comic funny a different process from a more “serious” book as an artist?
Hm – now that I think about it, it’s no different. It’s all about timing and body language. How do you properly show the action of a gag – is it a slow build to a punch line or can it be expressed quickly in a great facial expression or gesture? I try to think about those things with drama, too, because you can apply it to a fight scene or two characters arguing.
Fiona Staples is a heck of an act to follow. How much do you draw on her work versus your own?
Man you’re not kidding, she’s masterful! At first I was so paranoid about doing a good job I looked at her work quite a bit to make sure the reader would accept the transition. After a while you realize you can’t draw like another artist no matter how hard you try – because your own instincts eventually take over in the thrill of making something new. So I learned to trust myself, let my hand go.
I have no idea what my style is at all – I just jump in obsessively and stand back to see what came of it later. But I won’t lie – I’m crossing my fingers people dig it!
What was it like updating Riverdale for the twenty-first century?
Really easy actually! Young people in love is probably as timeless as it gets, just like small town living. Mark’s script is such gold anyway, and I believe in comics a good story is more important than how it’s drawn.
What’s your process when inking and coloring a book? How closely do you work with the colorists, and how does it all come together?
Inking is my favorite part actually, I kind of hate penciling because it feel laborious after too long. I send the colorists any notes I might have, such as “please make this guy blonde because it’s a friend’s cameo” or “give Veronica black Chloe boots with gold studs” and they are nice to accommodate me. Sometimes things fall through the cracks or they make choices you weren’t expecting – but you can’t be a control freak about it.
Comics can be a group effort and you have to let other artists do their thing. Jack Morelli especially – he’s the letterer and that is an under appreciated art! That guy is amazing. He adds to the acting and the timing just as much as the drawing.
Any Archie characters you’d like a crack at in the future?
Oh wow, I hadn’t thought about it because I’m having so much fun with Reggie, but maybe Moose or Cheryl Blossom!
Curious to see what Fish is up to? Check out a preview below…
Archie #5 is out tomorrow at comics shops and digitally.