First Comics News: The news that the Mighty Crusaders‘ character The Web, one of my personal favourites, has a well-illustrated, great-looking appearance in Archie & Friends # 107 will be very well-received-!

Andrew Pepoy: That is really great to hear. The Archie -MLJ Heroes have always had a strong fan following. And so far, Katy Keene fans have been just as vocal.

1st: Please tell us, how did the plan of having The Web appear in Archie & Friends # 107 come about-?

Andrew: When we first brought back Katy Keene in Archie & Friends #101, she won the award for “Best Kiss” in the original Web movie. So, all good superhero movies need a sequel, and that is where we are with this story in Archie & Friends #107.

1st: If I may ask, is Archie Comics as a corporate entity listening to the fans of these superheroes that the company created over 50 years ago, to their pleas that they do something new with these characters, and is this well-illustrated tale of The Web with Katy Keene a sign that the good folks at Archie are listening to their fans and followers-?

Andrew: Archie probably listens to its fans more than most companies. Hopefully this story could lead to something big with the MLJ superheroes. If the Graphic Novels Archie put out, The Shield, The Mighty Crusaders, and The Fly, as well as this issue all sell well, it might be a push in the right direction. You can order them at Archie’s Stuff Shop: www.archiecomics.com – Hint, hint.

1st: Judging by your art featuring the superhero The Web from Archie & Friends # 107, I can see that you have a real knack for doing adventure character types.

Andrew: Thank you.

1st: Was it your choice of which superhero from the MLJ/-Archie history to illustrate for this story-?

Andrew: I think we batted around a few choices, like the Shield, Fly, Jaguar, and we finally settled on The Web, mainly because we’d already established his first movie in the first new Katy Keene story, in Archie & Friends # 101.

1st: Did you grow up reading comics, and if so, what types-?

Andrew: Absolutely! Just about every kind of comic under the sun has been in my hands, while I collected all the popular superhero and adventure comics, like X-Men, Camelot 3000, GrimJack, and Cerebus, I was lucky that even growing up in a small town, my local library had a number of books about comics, and others which contained reprinted comics. I read them all. All those library books exposed me to the history of comics and gave me a chance to read “Captain Easy“, “Terry and the Pirates“, “Krazy Kat“, “Buck Rogers“, “The Spirit” and so much more. Even today, I’m always looking for good comics to read: European comics, indies, reprints of classic newspaper strips and comic books, Fables, and others.

1st: I always like to ask creative types whom I interview, the following, to get some background. When and where were you born?

Andrew: It was a dark and stormy night….. Actually, it was in the middle of the afternoon on May 13, 1969, in Dearborn, Michigan

1st: Where did you grow up, and what did you do for hobbies?

Andrew: I grew up in Holland. I walked around in wooden shoes and I hunted for leaks in the dikes. Ok, so it was actually Holland, Michigan, and I didn’t really do those things. Besides collecting comics, I published, wrote and drew a line of fanzines, hunted for the then-rare pulp reprints and old-time radio shows (much easier to find now), listened to punk and new wave records (I still do that), haunted thrift stores, and I sought the best way to get my three-tone hair to spike 6-inches straight up. Well, it was the ’80’s.

1st: Were you an avid reader, and if so, of what-?

Andrew: Christmas Catalogs. Isn’t that what lots of kids read constantly from August until December 24th? I read The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, the usual stuff.. I fell out of reading non-comics for awhile, but then, in high school I really got into classic mystery series like Mr. Moto, Dr. Fu Manchu, Sherlock Holmes, and books by Dashiell Hammet. Also, pulp reprints of The Shadow, The Avenger, and my favorite, The Spider.

PL: The Spider pulp series was a particular favourite of Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee, I’ve read in one of his tell-all books about the early days of Marvel. The pulp Spider series inspired him to, decades later, co-create The Amazing Spider-Man, with Steve Ditko.

Did you grow up reading comic books, and if so, what types-?

Andrew: Like I mentioned earlier, just anything I could find. I was always looking for a variety in comics.

1st: Who were your favourite characters in any media?

Andrew: My favorite superhero was the Golden-Age Green Lantern. Way back when, my favorite TV show was The Muppets, and the Star Wars movies were an obsession. This changed over time… I always had lots of favorites!

1st: The Golden-Age Green Lantern has always been my favourite superhero, too, by some coincidence. I still own an original golden age Green Lantern # 1 from 1941 that cost me a king’s ransom some decades ago. I also own an original, full-colour inked Mart Nodell illustration by the character’s creator, signed to me. And then, there’s Zorro, but don’t get me started. Whoops, too late…

What type of stories are your favourites, and what are your favourite story-telling genres and techniques?

Andrew: Just a good story: funny, sad, adventurous. Whatever works. Having inked so many stories in so many different styles, you learn to appreciate the best of everything. As far as how I write stories, it really is a process, because with Katy you have to have a coherent story, and work in all the great designs which the fans send in. Sometimes we have a very definite idea for a story in mind, sometimes we get a whole bunch of prom dress designs and get an idea for that, which is the case for Archie & Friends #106.

1st: Where did you go to school for art, and did your parents encourage you-?

Andrew: My parents were very supportive. When I did fanzines, my Mom was my proofreader and my Dan helped me make the copies. I majored in art at Loyola University in Chicago.

1st: Did you ever envision, as a kid, that you’d grow up to be a comic book artist?

Andrew: Though I think others thought I was crazy, and my parents, while encouraging, always suggested I keep my options open, it was all I could think about. I started publishing fanzines when I was 12 and started standing in the portfolio lines when I was 14. It was my dream, and I have been lucky enough to have that dream come true and still have the same love of comics all my life.

1st: How do you feel about that, and why?

Andrew: It’s great! I’ve been very lucky. So many things I’ve wanted to try, the opportunity has presented itself. I got to work on my favorite superhero (the Golden-Age Green Lantern), a classic adventure strip (redesigned and drew Little Orphan Annie), and so many other projects. Especially now, getting to move from being known as an inker to penciling and writing, has been great. The fact that people seem to really enjoy what I’m doing with Katy Keene has opened more opportunities to me. Besides hopefully drawing a few pages for Fables, which I occasionally ink, soon, I’m also writing and drawing something of my own, which you’ll hopefully see next year.

1st: Can you give us a hint or two as to what project that is that you are hinting about, or at least tell us what genre it is in-? Also, I have to break a cardinal interviewer’s rule and seque off-topic just for a moment, or I won’t be able to sleep tonight. Where did the Golden-Age Green Lantern tale you illustrated, see print-? Title and issue number. And don’t call me a geek fanboy. Okay, well…..smile at least when you say it.

Andrew: It will be a fun all-ages story, but I just can’t say more until everything is worked out. Believe me, I want to tell people, but just can’t yet.

As for the Golden Age Green Lantern story, I inked Jim Balent on it in an issue of “Green Lantern Quarterly” but I can’t remember the number. It was his last classic appearance before being updated in the following issue, which I also inked.

I hope that helps. Thanks!

1st: Were you previously familiar with the various characters who comprise The Mighty Crusaders and their cohorts, other partners in crime-fighting such as The Comet, The Hangman, The Wizard, and their various villains-?

Andrew: Oh, yeah. I love that stuff. The classic MLJ Heroes are great fun. I still have all of the original 1960’s issues buried somewhere around here. And my first ever letter-column letter was written about the first issue of the 1980’s Crusaders revival and published in The Fly. I got my start at Archie 10 years ago because the idea of reviving the Crusaders was being kicked about, and one of the other creators who I had approached, warned them that I’d track them all down to get in the project. That led to my long run of inking Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna. Plus, I inked some “Know Your Heroes” pages, which were single page stories with the MLJ Heroes teaching kids good stuff like wear your seat belts and stuff like that. I even penciled the one with The Web. I also inked a few issues during the Impact Comics years. The Web was one of the books I worked on. The character was a little different, but the name was the same.

PL: The Web is one of my favourite of the MLJ heroes too. I like how he has no powers, yet he wants to be a hero enough –it’s in his blood- that he keeps at it, even with his wife constantly driving him up a wall (pun intended), harassing him that he should quit his superheroing. I think his costume is dated and yet, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love it just as it is. It’s a great design. And I love that crazy cape-!

How do you feel about recreating The Web, a superhero character with about five decades of history, off and on, about him, and why pare him with Katy Keene-?

It’s an interesting idea.

If there’s a sequel, I’d like to see the ‘REALWeb come and confront the actor in this movie confront the actor portraying him, possibly saying that he is misrepresenting his character or something. That would be a fun read-!

Andrew: Gorgeous girls and strong men have made a lot of movie and comics fans happy for decades, so it seemed like a good move. And the Web was always a particular favorite of mine.

1st: I understand that in this adventure, there is a big-budget Hollywood movie featuring the Mighty Hero The Web, and co-starring Katy Keene as his love interest-!

Will this movie in the making, as depicted in the comic book Archie & Friends # 107, feature the ‘real’ Web from those comic books from decades back, or rather, a movie actor portraying The Web-?

Andrew: It will be a movie actor portraying The Web. And the actor is, um, kind of a jerk as he tries to win Katy’s affections. Her friend, K.O. (extreme sports star), who has been in the previous issues, is actually coordinating the stunts. Also, Rodney, Katy’s sometimes boyfriend, is producing the movie, which all leads to some dilemmas.

1st: And if the second, how will the ‘real’ Web feel about someone else, an actor, stealing his thunder?

Andrew: Hey, the royalty checks just keep rolling in for the real Web. He loves it! In the Katy-verse, The Web is a popular comic book hero.

1st: In those comic books from years ago, including ‘Mighty Comics‘ and ‘The Mighty Crusaders‘, The Web was frequently portrayed as a husband whose wife was always against her husband putting on a colourful costume and fighting crime as a vigilante. He was one of an elite few superheroes who was married, not single, and just about the only superhero in comic books who was, indeed, a ‘hen-pecked hero.’

At other times, his dynamo wife would finally, in defeat, shrug her shoulders when she couldn’t discourage him from putting on his Web costume and fighting crime and ultimately decide, “if I can’t beat him, I’ll join him!” And then, she herself would put on a costume and mask and fight crime as Pow-Girl-!

Andrew: That is some of my favorite stuff. It was so funny and bizarre. The Web would sneak in the window after saving the city and his wife would yell at him like he was partying with the boys! Some of those stories had such a great take to the “super hero” life.

1st: Will we see any sign of The Web’s wife in this adventure? And indeed, is The Web still married to this non-approving gal?

Andrew: In “The Web Returns”, Katy Keene is actually playing Rosie Wayne, so this is a little before she became Rosie Raymond.

1st: How did you feel about illustrating this new adventure of The Web, and would you like to draw this character, and/-or any of his other superheroic colourful cohorts again-?

Andrew: I have been privately threatening my editor, Mike Pellerito, with bodily injury if any new MLJ Heroes come out and I don’t get to work on them. I believe several other big name people have made similar threats. Mike actually has a great idea for the MLJ Heroes, though he won’t tell me what it is, but I’ll take his trusted word for it, and Archie is considering that and some other options.

1st: This comic book is certainly a step in the right direction toward getting The Web and his teammates back into colour comic books in the 21st century!

What hope have we, these heroes’ fans, of seeing a gritty, realistic non-cartoony Archie-like version of these characters, in a series all their own?

Andrew: Do we need more “gritty” superheroes? Archie Comics is all about fun, and that’s what I go for in comics. And with movies like The Incredibles doing so well, it might make more sense to go in that direction. Adventure can be fun and exciting without being dark and gritty.

1st: I myself like both. I regularly buy the DC Batman title which looks, in terms of the art style, like an animated cartoon. So, I enjoy both. I like the way you depict The Web, and the idea, in the comic book, of actors making a Web movie intrigues me to no end! I cannot wait to see how it turns out!

Andrew: Thanks a lot! We all hope you enjoy it.

1st: I’m betting I will, Andrew. In the age of comic book specialty shops, where comic books are ordered by fans through the Previews/-Diamond catalogue, and where unsold returns are nonexistant, doesn’t this modern marketplace for comic books perhaps embolden the people at Archie Comics to want to test the market with a new Mighty Crusaders series, or perhaps a series of one shots featuring solo adventures of the characters, such as a new ‘Blue Ribbon Series‘-?

Andrew: I’m not sure. You’d have to ask them. And isn’t the Archie website, www.archiecomics.com, running a promotion where you’re asked to ask the publisher, Michael Silberkleit, your burning questions about Archie Comics? Now’s your chance! Certainly if Archie & Friends #107 as well as The Shield, The Mighty Crusaders, and The Fly Graphic Novels have a big response from the retailers and readers, it might make a lot of things possible.

1st: I agree. I did politely put those questions to Mr. Silberkleit, by the way. And here is the place where I suggest that everyone reading this interview, (politely)….do the very same thing-!

Andrew, what else are you working on?

Andrew: Lots of stuff, luckily. I’m inking Jack of Fables regularly at Vertigo, plus helping out on Fables when needed, and some Simpsons and Futurama work at Bongo Comics, penciling and inking a Liberty Girl story for Heroic Publishing’s Anthem #4, and a handful of other projects. Plus my Sonic editor at Archie is still pushing for me to ink an issue of either Sonic the Hedgehog or Sonic X again. And of course, lots more writing, penciling and inking Katy Keene!

PL: Anthem is a Roy Thomas (of Marvel Comics and of Alter Ego magazine) written-project. I’ve been meaning to check it out. I’ll do that, soon.

Any final thoughts?

Andrew: Thanks for the interview. I’m happy to get the word out on Katy Keene and The Web. And any fashion designers out there, please check out:www.archiecomics.com/katykeene/katy_fashions.htm to submit more fashion designs for Katy Keene!

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First Comics News: The news that the Mighty Crusaders' character The Web, one of my personal favourites, has a well-illustrated, great-looking appearance in Archie & Friends # 107 will be very well-received-! Andrew Pepoy: That is really great to hear. The Archie -MLJ Heroes have always had a strong fan...