The latest series from Archie Comics attempts the impossible: Humanizing Reggie Mantle. A Herculean task such as this needs the right creative team. Writer Tom DeFalco (a former editor-in-chief of Marvel) and artist Sandy Jarrell (DC Comics Bombshells) prove to be up to the task. What makes a bully like Reggie tick? And how can he be seen in a sympathetic light? By looking at him through a lens of unconditional love. The “Me” in Reggie and Me is none other than Reggie’s faithful dog, Vader.
It’s a plot device that serves the opening issue (on sale now) well. Vader is well-aware of his master’s foibles, but he sees Reggie’s quirks as strengths instead of flaws. Plus, as Archie Comics learned years ago with Cheryl Blossom, even the most narcissistic character can be salvaged with a love of rescuing animals in need. We spoke with the Reggie and Me creative team via email about how this project came about and what fans can expect from the series going forward.
How did the concept of Reggie and Me come about?
Tom DeFalco: Mark Waid and Veronica Fish re-introduced Reggie in Archie #5. I was told that Reggie had a dog named Vader and then started talking to Sandy.
Was it difficult to update and humanize someone like Reggie?
DeFalco: Not at all! Like all the other characters in the Archie Universe, Reggie is already human. We have all know Reggies in the course of our lives. Some of us have even been a Reggie at one time or another. (Hey, stop eyeballing me!)
Sandy, as an artist what was the biggest challenge going from Bombshells to Reggie and Me?
Jarrell: Well, there’s way fewer hugs and kisses to draw. And less flying. And more dudes. The biggest adjustment for me, though, is starting work with any writer for the first time. Shifting from Marguerite [Bennett] to Tom was the challenge, but a fun one.
In the first issue, Archie takes the high road and gets a spot on Reggie’s ‘Hit List’ for his trouble, but we don’t get to see him interact with Veronica. Is that coming up?
DeFalco: Reggie’s focus is on Big Moose, Midge and Archie, but a man’s got to know his limitations. No one messes with Veronica Lodge.
How up-to-date were you on how teen supervillains dress for school?
Jarrell: I’d been reading the New Riverdale titles all along, so I was up to speed!
Do you try to match the visual tone of the main comic or are you given a free hand?
Jarrell: I don’t think I have to, but I’m trying to follow the spirit of what’s come before me — from Fiona Staples back to Harry Lucey and Bob Bolling. I love those guys, and really like what Fiona started. It’s a fun template to follow.
The first issue hints Archie and Reggie use to be friends. Will the comic dive into what wedge drove them apart?
DeFalco: We will see a few of the wedges.
What is Reggie’s relationship with Betty like these days?
DeFalco: Complicated…very complicated…as you will soon see.
Any chance of Vader and Hot Dog going on an adventure?
DeFalco: Anything’s possible!