Paul Kupperberg spent 16 years at DC as one of their best and most well-known editors. Since leaving his post at DC, he has embarked on a freelance writing career with a wide variety of projects, from Captain Action to Archie Andrews. Paul took time away from his busy schedule to chat with us last month about Captain Action, and he is back to talk about LIFE WITH ARCHIE.
First Comics News: I have only read the first issue and I was blown away; it was great and not at all what I was expecting. As the new writer on the series, when did you join in on the planning of the series?
Paul Kupperberg: I came in after the ARCHIE #600-605 miniseries had been all plotted out but right around the beginning of the talks to turn the idea into an ongoing series. I met with Michael Uslan and Victor Gorelick in November of last year when they offered me the gig, and we discussed how the stories could work going forward in an ongoing series.
1st: Michael Uslan is doing the first issue and then you are taking over in the middle of the story; how did you guys work this out?
Paul Kupperberg: Michael wrote the first stories of both series, so I’m starting with LIFE WITH ARCHIE #2, more or less at the beginning of the stories. But Michael had written a broad overview, outlining his ideas for the first story arc, and then it was left to me to plot out, issue-by-issue, how the story would play out. There’s no question that I’m building on Michael’s very solid foundation… he set up some great stuff that can lead in all sorts of directions.
1st: How long is the first storyline?
Paul Kupperberg: We’re doing six-issue story arcs, starting shortly after the weddings. Archie and Betty are trying to make it in New York City, while Archie and Veronica have to learn to deal with being married AND working together for Hiram Lodge, who is not to be trusted, even when it comes to his own daughter. In fact, I just wrote Archie Loves Betty #7, which features a big change in the direction of their lives and also introduces the first batch of the next generation of Riverdale kids.
Paul Kupperberg: Well, maybe not exactly better off…! In “Archie Loves Betty,” Mr. Lodge is trying to get Archie to divorce Betty and marry Veronica, who’s been miserable since she lost Archie. At some point, Archie imagines what life would be like if he took Lodge up on his offer.
1st: What is your take on the “Married Life” of Archie?
Paul Kupperberg: Archie Meets Melrose Place.
1st: How far in advance do you have the series planned?
1st: Dilton appears to be trying to fix the time line; any chance that when he “fixes” everything Archie will be married to Cheryl Blossom?
Paul Kupperberg: No plans at the present. In fact, going forward, we’ve dialed back the Dilton story line. I think we’ll get back to it eventually in some form or another, but right now, Victor felt we should concentrate on the elements more grounded in reality.
1st: There were a lot of new supporting characters added to the series; will we be learning more about the new characters?
Paul Kupperberg: Some, but there are so many main characters to deal with, it’s difficult to really make full use of the new characters. I mean, I’ve got Archie, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, Jughead, Moose, Midge, Chuck, Nancy, Mr. Lodge, Pop Tate, Mr. Weatherbee, Miss Grundy, Svenson, Ms. Beazly, Ricky Mantle… that’s 16 characters right there, and I haven’t even gotten to Archie’s or Betty’s folks, Ethel, or some of the other teachers, like Flutesnoot, and then there are a few new characters necessary to drive the plots! And in #7, I start introducing the next generation of Riverdale freshmen in both books. So the supporting cast very quickly took a backseat to our many, many stars. I’m jamming a LOT of story into these comics, my friend… and every month I find myself wishing I had about 50% more pages to work with!
1st: Ambrose returns to the Archie Universe in the Betty story; will he be a major supporting character?
Paul Kupperberg: For the first story arc. I really like the banter that developed between him and Archie so I’m trying to find a way to bring him back for the second arc.
1st: Will we see any other older characters returning?
Paul Kupperberg: None for now. Like I said, I’ve got so many characters requiring attention that I’d hate to shoehorn in Li’l Jinx or whoever without being able to pay her the proper attention, like I think I was able to do with Ambrose.
1st: What makes LIFE WITH ARCHIE the coolest comic of all time?
Paul Kupperberg: It’s Archie, which is in itself the definition of cool. It’s Archie grown up, but not so grown up that he’s not still Archie, and it’s the first time that there’s ever been an ongoing, continuity-driven Archie Comics title! It’s also in magazine format, which really shows off the gorgeous art by Norm Breyfogle, inked by Joe Rubinstein and Andrew Pepoy! Norm’s doing an amazing job drawing these stories! I know there’s nothing I can ask him to draw that he won’t be able to pull off, from physical comedy to emotional impact.