Last August I attended the Canadian National Comic Book Exposition on behalf of Alternavox, an online magazine based in Toronto. I did several interviews that, for a variety of reasons, didn’t make it on to the site. The other day I was going through my digital recorder and found a bunch of these chats and figured that I would put them up here.
First up? Dan Parent, veteran Archie Comics artist.
The past five years have been tumultuous in the world of Archie Comics: new artistic styles were introduced for the monthly Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Betty and Veronica titles as well as some controversial storylines that created an uproar in fandom.
Dan Parent has been a house artist, writer and co-editor with Archie Comics, but now works freelance on America’s favourite redhead. He knows Riverdale from the inside-out and sees many of the latest changes to the line as healthy.
“I think it’s a good experiment,” said Parent at the Canadian National Comic Book Expo on Aug. 29. “I still prefer the classic look myself , but I think it’s always good to try new things. I thought it worked for what it was.”
After graduating from of the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning and Graphic Art in 1987, Parent became a house artist at Archie Comics, working on comic book production work before moving to the licensing department.
He began to do freelance work in 1996, although maintained close ties to the Archie gang, occasionally doing work for the company. Parents has his favourites amongst the ‘new look’ titles.
“I really like the manga Sabrina,” said Parent. “The girl who does it, Tania Del Rio, did a really good job on it.”
Archie Comics made waves on May 15, 2009 when they announced that Archie Andrews would be proposing to the raven-haired Veronica Lodge over the wholesome girl-next door, Betty Cooper in the 600th issue of his monthly series.
Fans on both side of the blonde vs. brunette debate were inflamed, with comic book store owner David Luebke going so far as selling Archie #1 comic for $30,000 USD in protest.
However, Parent shrugs at the controversy.
“It’s interesting, it stirs things up,” said Parent. “People have a lot of passion for the characters; people have grown up on them and they’re sort of like they’re your friends at this point.”
“I think it’s good, it’s what keeps us in business.”
Parent was quick to defend the plot, for some personal reasons.
“I’m a bigger fan of Veronica, so, you know, it works out fine for me,” he said with a laugh. “As far as the story goes, it’s a really well written story, and I didn’t write it so I’m not just saying that.”
A veteran of the comics industry for 23 years, Parent still has some dream projects that he’d like to work on before calling it a career.
“I would like to do the Archie superheroes. They are going to be bringing them back – I’m not sure if I’m going to be working on them or not, probably not,” he said. “I like Li’l Archie a lot too. I’d really like to do some work with Li’l Archie.”
Having worked on several children’s comic books like Felix the Cat, Barbie and Disney Adventures, Parent knows what it takes to create an accessible kid’s title.
“First of all, good artwork , of course,” said Parent. “A good story that doesn’t talk down to kids, which is kind of difficult. Sometimes the stories do in other books. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and if it’s funny, it’s funny.”
“Even if you have an obscure reference that you think a kid might not understand it’s usually okay because if it’s funny they’ll go along with it.”