Ever since the first issue of the Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ best-selling Archie relaunch, there’s one mystery that’s held our attention: just what IS the #LipstickIncident? How (and why) did it break up Archie and Betty? When Archie #4 hits comic stores Nov. 25, readers will finally learn the truth about the power couple’s split.
Writer Mark Waid teams with acclaimed artist Annie Wu (Black Canary, Hawkeye), along with colorists Andre Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn, and letterer Jack Morelli, to finally raise the curtain on one of the most buzzed about secrets at Riverdale High. EW spoke to Wu about lending her talents to the Archie world, and while we couldn’t get too many spoilers out of her, we did find out just how much fun she had bringing this story to life. Read on for more, including exclusive pages and variant covers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So Annie Wu, Mark Waid, and Archie. That’s a pretty awesome collaboration. How did that come about? Had you wanted to work on the book since it’s relaunch?
ANNIE WU: They asked me! I think someone at Archie saw a Jughead doodle I posted on Twitter and passed my name on when they were looking for new artists. I certainly wasn’t expecting to work on the book at all, but I’m glad that it happened.
Can you talk a little about working with Mark? Did he send you the script first so you knew the story of #LipstickIncident and so you could get some ideas of how you wanted to visually present it, or did you present some of your ideas first?
Reading the script was how I found out I was even drawing the #LipstickIncident. I was thrilled to draw ANY issue of this book — I had no idea I was going to handle this major event that had only been alluded to in previous issues. I figured they had this planned for a long, long time, so I just took what they gave me and worked right off that.
Your style is so unique; everything you do has a real and gritty feel that draws the readers in. Did you feel pressure going into this knowing that you were following Fiona’s work?
I mean, it’s Fiona Staples. She’s amazing. When they announced she was wrapping up and I’d be jumping on board, I wanted to say to everyone with my hands up, “Hi, thank you, sorry, I swear I know what I’m doing, sorry, thank you, sorry.” But the fact that I knew these characters super-well already bolstered me a great deal. I certainly wasn’t going in blind.
Archie’s “reboot” has really given the characters so much of a modern, fun, hip look. And it gives you a bit of freedom, too, since you can have fun with the clothes and atmosphere of each panel. What inspirations did you draw on when figuring out how to illustrate the characters? Did you draw anything from your own life or style?
Not much of my own style made it in fashion-wise, which is probably a very “Betty” thing to happen — I was fine with casual clothes but as soon as I had to draw a cute dress, I spent hours shopping around online to figure out what people wear when they want to look that way. I’m just old enough that teen fashion is a new mystery. I guess I’m most aligned with Jughead, who slouches around in ripped black jeans a lot. Betty is a gearhead tomboy. Veronica’s vibe is, as Jughead once referred to her, “Kardashian Klone” so I took some inspiration from that whole deal. Archie wears a lot of modern, well-fitted cuts of classics/basics; he seems like the kind of guy that’ll go through a Steve McQueen or Paul Newman “thing” at some point in his life.
Let’s talk about the #LipstickIncident. Obviously, the panels show that you had a lot of fun letting these two characters go to town with showing how close they were and how everything became awkward, but what was it like to take on this experience, knowing YOU were the one bringing it to life in this issue? (Without giving away too many spoilers, obviously!)
Oh, it was great. Two things I love to draw are people being idiots and people moping around. Following Archie + Betty from their lighthearted relationship to breakup allowed me to do both.
Why do you think Archie’s story still resonates today with new and old readers?
I used to get the digests all the time when I was a kid so I’ve known these characters through every decade. There’s something about them that feels like you’re checking in with old friends, even if you’re reading the books for the first time. I think the relaunch has maintained that, all while elaborating on these classic characters.
You managed to find time for this between doing Black Canary, which is a hit in its own right. Would you draw more Archie in the future, if the timing worked out?
Yeah, Archie reached out right when we planned to have the wonderful Pia Guerra do two issues of Black Canary, so I jumped at the chance. I really wanted to draw more or maybe even do both books at the same time. Alas, at this point, I’m not one of those wizards who can handle interiors on two monthly books. Hey, I’m pumped to have any part of this at all. That’s me. Annie Wu: Excited to even be here.