DISCLAIMER: I will go on the record saying that I believe Chip Zdarsky is NICE MAN, but this comic was bought with my own money.
Chip Zdarsky, Erica Henderson
Archie Comics, $3.99
Jughead joins the ranks of Afterlife with Archie in being one of the 2 Archie books I’ve bought in the last 2 centuries. Much like Afterlife, the creators on this book warranted me at least checking out the first issue, despite not caring much for the lead character. The record will show that obviously I am a fan of Handsome-for-Canada writer Chip Zdarsky‘s output, and I’ve been enjoying Erica Henderson‘s work on the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I haven’t been keeping up with the relaunched Archie title by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, so I wasn’t sure what this incarnation of Jughead was like, aside from his love of hamburgers, and chances are he wasn’t a zombie.
Jughead #1 turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Well not that much of a surprise, given the fact I just said I’m a big fan of these creators. I just really appreciated how Henderson and Zdarsky they managed to blend the spirit of these classic iconic comic characters while placing them in a modern setting.
Erica Henderson drawing a teen comedy was a genius move on the behalf of Archie. She excels at drawing various body types and expressions, making her a perfect fit for this title. Her acting and costume designs make the book look like it takes place in 2015, and keeps the character recognizable it. Having her ink and color her own works also helps her art look clean and bold, not unlike Fiona Staples work on Archie proper.
And much like being assigned writing duties on Howard the Duck, Chip Zdarsky couldn’t be a better choice for Jughead. In the afterword, Chip goes on the record stating that he’s a huge fan of Jughead and Archie comics, and it shows in the book. His Jughead is very sarcastic and a bit of a slacker, but ultimately very likable. His dialogue is sharp and hilarious, again much like Howard, but a little more reserved, making it still a teen rated book, only because there’s some serious dept to the humor, and a big ol’ reference to a popular and violent fantasy TV show. It makes for a really fun read.
Jughead #1 is another stellar reinvention of a classic Archie character. I really enjoyed this debut issue, but I’m concerned how long the team with stick around what with Squirrel Girl returning soon, and Chip’s various comments to Marvel and Image comics. Hopefully the pair will be around for awhile, as this book is off to a great start.
Cliff Chiang, Brian K Vaughan, Matt Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher
Paper Girls #1 was THE comic everyone was talking about at NYCC this year. It’s the first new ongoing writer Brian K Vaughan has launched since Saga, and the first book artist Cliff Chiang has worked on after his Wonder Woman run. It’s been shrouded in secret since it’s announcement, with a premise no one knew much about aside from “suburban paper girls in the late 80s”, with rumors of some sort of bonkers twist to the whole thing. Those rumors were correct to an extent, leading to one of the BEST final page reveals of the year (sorry Invincible Iron Man) in an excellent first issue.
I’ve spoken highly about BKV on this blog multiple times thanks to Saga. Same for colorist Matt Wilson, who’s also working on this book, and is unsurprisingly excellent. Whom I’ve never really talked about around these parts is Cliff Chiang, who’s the perfect artist for a period piece like this. Everything he draws in this debut issue is terrific; the spooky psychedelic dream that kicks this issue off, the character’s body language and dress, and the things related to the twist I dare not spoil. What’s also neat is the subtle but effective reminders that Chiang uses to let the readers know that this whole thing takes place is the 80s, without beating us over the head. BKV also gets some credit for that, as his “perfect but still natural” dialogue never flirts with nostalgia or worries about being too period accurate. There is one major exception where a homophobic slur is dropped (consider this a trigger warning for the book), but it’s handled pretty well all things considering, as one of the character acknowledges the choice of wording is pretty messed up. It’s good to see that the creative team actually put some thought into that’s word use, instead of just dropping it in the comics and making up excuses for its presence.
Matt Wilson’s colors are gorgeous in this book. He uses a lot of dark blues/purples/pinks for the background, occasionally switching things up to a red or a yellow, and it’s all quite striking. Letter & designer Jared K. Fletcher is the unsung her of the book, contributing some really cool stuff I can’t talk about, but it really sets the book apart from a lot of comics out there. This is a stellar creative team on every level.
I honestly feel the less you know about Paper Girls’ premise, the better you know. What matters is that 4 creators have come together and created a fantastic first issue that’s worth your time and 3 bucks.