Exclusive: We asked Betty & Veronica’s writer Adam Hughes about ditching cheesecake

Back in July, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge struck off on their own from the rebooted Archie universe for an updated take on Betty & Veronica. That wasn”t much of surprise since Jughead had already gotten his own spin-off series and B&V have been an Archie Comics staple for decades. What was a surprise? The new on-going would be written and drawn by long-time comics artist Adam Hughes.

Hughes has been in the comics industry almost as long as I”ve been alive (sorry, Adam!). He began his professional artist career by drawing a pin-up frame for Eagle #6 and that style would follow him for the next several decades. A quick Google search of “Adam Hughes Covers returns a plethora of iconic female characters in a variety of cheesecake poses. So an interesting choice to not only draw the new Betty & Veronica series, but to be Hughes' first foray into writing as well.

The concern was unwarranted. Not only did Betty & Veronica sell over 70,000 issues in July, but critics were pleased too.

HitFix Harpy spoke with Adam via email about how he got involved with this project and asked some uncomfortable questions about writing girls when he”s a man known for drawing sexualized ladies.

Image Credit: Archie Comics

HITFIX HARPY: How did you get involved with the relaunch of Betty & Veronica?
ADAM HUGHES: Archie – the company, not the ginger with the waffles in his hair – asked me to participate, in any way I wanted. I rudely asked to write and draw the book. That'll teach 'em to give me options!

Were you at all nervous about taking on both writing and artistic duties?
ADAM: Yes, entirely. But I have a lot of Xanax, so I should be okay, thanks for asking! I like writing and drawing stories, so when the fun actually started, the nervousness evaporated. As we approach launch, however, it appears to have condensed again.

You”ve been in the industry a long time and are well-known for your pin-up/hyper-sexualized portrayal of women. Was there any fan pushback when you were announced for B&V?
Not much. It had less to do with my rep as a pin-up artist and more to do with my rep as a tortoise with a paintbrush in his mouth. “Yeah, like THAT comic will ever come out!” There WAS one journalist who said “Putting Adam Hughes on Betty & Veronica seems like pandering to the male gaze” and that kinda stung, as I thought she was my friend and I had at least earned the benefit of the doubt in her eyes. But the response for the project has been 99% enthusiastic since announced.

Now that some of the interior art has been released (that is definitely not sexualized), was it difficult to break out of cheesecake habits?
Not at all. I have a Cheesecake Variac Knob, that goes from zero to eleven, Spinal Tap. 

An argument could be made that a comic about two women should be written by one. Do you have women in your life that help you see things from a different perspective?
I have more female friends than male friends, and all of them are tough. Many of them seem to dig what I do and I cherish their input. Seeing things from a different perspective is what a good writer and artist needs to be able to do, regardless of gender or subject matter, I feel.

Have you noticed changing attitudes in the industry about art styles?
I”d be dangerously blind not to notice the sea change going on around us. Adjust sails or founder, right?

Who do I have to bribe around here to get some beefcake pin-ups?
I”m easy. What you got?

My ever-lasting gratitude? Also, quick, no one”s listening! Tell me something about the plot of the first B&V arc!
Just between me & thee? The whole thing is just a Lynchian dream sequence due to some of Pop's new chili recipe. Tell no one.