Archie's Freshman Year: An Interview With Artist Bill Galvan
A while back I reviewed a series of what were essentially PSA comics (Public Service Announcements, telling kids to stay off drugs, etc.) called Scrapyard Detectives . They were surprisingly good, using a soft touch and a non-preachy approach - something very hard to do in PSA comics (some of the worst comics I have ever read were PSAs from the 80s and early 90s).
The artist from that series, Bill Galvan, is now doing pencils on the regular ARCHIE comic (not the digest), and he joins us to talk about his career so far and about the current 5 issue storyline called "Freshman Year".
Scott Tingley - Comics in the Classroom: Bill, thanks for the interview. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career so far. How did you end up working for Archie?
Bill Galvan: I brought my portfolio to the San Diego Comic Con in 2006, and Archie was having a talent search that year. I showed them my work, and got a script a couple months later as a try out. After that, I started doing stories pretty regularly.
CitC: You have been working on the digests for a while. Is this a promotion for you with you now on the regular monthly flagship title?
BG: Working on the flagship title of Archie is definitely a promotion to me, that's for sure! I'll be working on the book for just this 5-issue storyline, but I'm really excited that it's being presented in the regular comic book size.
CitC: Tell us a bit about this "Freshman Year" storyline.
BG: "Freshman Year" tells the story of Archie's first year in high school. That story has never been told before, and it was a lot of fun to draw them in a slightly younger style and have the characters with different, younger attitudes. Batton Lash, the writer of Freshman Year has done an amazing job with the storyline, keeping the characters true to themselves, while weaving a story that features humor and drama mixed. There's also something of a mystery at Riverdale High.
CitC: The art of Archie comics is a fascinating thing. Over the decades it has evolved a lot, but there is always something very "Archie" about it. You are adapting your style to fit with the current "look", how do you keep your own style and passion while also staying within the Archie look?
BG: I love the original style, and when I designed them as younger characters, I stayed true to the original designs of the characters. I made Archie's eyes a little wider, made him a tad shorter, gave Betty pigtails and Reggie a mop of hair. Jughead's neck is a little thinner too.
CitC: Many longtime comic fans can name off the greats associated with their favourite characters (Like Curt Swan with Superman and Denny O'Neil + Neil Adams with Batman, etc), but I don't think the casual Archie reader is as familiar with the company's greats. Who do you consider to be an Archie great?
BG: Dan DeCarlo to start with. He's a magnificent artist, and I have studied his approach a lot since coming on board. His stuff in the 80's is what I grew up on, so that's always in my mind. Stan Goldberg is also a classic Archie artist. He understands the characters so well. Al Hartley is another artist I like, particularly for his portrayal of Mr. Weatherbee. He makes him so fluid and nimble, despite his pear shape size.
CitC: Now for the hardball question.What's it like working for Archie?
BG: Archie is great place to work for. The editors and staff are all nice people. I'm especially grateful to Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick, who took the time to help me along developing my Archie style. He's got a wealth of information, and is just celebrating his 50 th year at Archie!
CitC: Why do you think Archie is never mentioned as a choice destination by aspiring comic writers? Most are obsessed with the big two, but every kid reads Archie.
BG: I don't know. Speaking for myself, I always liked Archie and as a parent, I'm glad to work on comics that I can read to my kids.
CitC: Thank you very much for taking the time to answer a few questions - One more though: What is next for you after Freshman Year is over?
BG: Hopefully, we've got more Freshman Year stories to tell! I'm also working on completing Scrapyard Detectives #4, written by JM DeMatteis. That will be released in January 2009.
CitC: Thanks again.
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