‘Jughead’ Artist Erica Henderson Talks Pop Culture And Time Travel

Jughead has made a triumphant return to a solo book, written by Chip Zdarsky (Sex CriminalsKaptaraHoward the Duck) and drawn by fan-favorite artist Erica Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). We’ve got an exclusive preview of next week’s antics, and Henderson was kind enough to sit down and talk to us about what goes into updating the original slacker.

Archie is famous for having a “house style.” When you were first working on Jughead, what drove your decisions on where to keep and where to tweak?

This was pretty easy. I was really just drawing the characters the way I would draw them. The hardest part was just interpreting things that were more stylized in the old versions like Jughead and Mr. Weatherbee’s needle nose. The most change probably came with Archie since there was an active push to make him less goony.

Chip Zdarsky has you jump from mood to mood here, humor to SF to noir. How do you juggle these tonal shifts? Did having to work a switchblade and a bazooka into a Jughead book throw you a bit?

It’s not really that much of an issue since most stories have different tones and story beats. I try to give the fantasy elements a slightly different look, but that’s more so that they read as fantasy.

I loved the subtle pop culture gags you’ve worked into the “Time Police” segment. How do you decide what to work into the art and how to keep it from distracting from the story?

Well, pop culture references generally have to be pretty subtle since nobody likes getting a cease and desist in the mail. Anything that we might want in there has to be fairly vague. Honestly, I didn’t even make the connection between the “I Believe” shirt and the fact that it’s a sci-fi issue until now. I’ve just been talking about The X-Files a lot lately and figured that 80 percent of t-shirts are graphic Ts.

Your inking is extremely detailed, as always, right down to Betty’s fishnets. How much of this do you work out penciling versus inking and coloring?

I get most of it down in the pencil phase. That way, when I start inking, I don’t even have to think about it. It’s just done.

There’s a superb physical comedy sequence at the end of issue #2. Can you walk us through how you approached it?

Well, a lot of it comes from Chip. It’s all there in the script. I just need to get it to read on the page. Making sure that scene flows isn’t that different of a process for me than any other page, really. It’s just a matter of knowing what needs to be the focus of each panel and if it takes you to the next panel — which can be a lot easier than a page where everyone’s sitting around talking.

To see what she’s up to, here’s an exclusive preview of Jughead #2, on shelves Wednesday, November 18.