From page to screen: Longtime Archie Comics creator reflects on 30 years with much-loved characters

Generations have grown up with Archie Andrews and his pals, from the character's first appearance in comics in 1941 to the grittier TV version of Archie on Riverdale.

Archie Comics now publishes a range of titles featuring Archie and the Riverdale gang — everything from comic digests featuring the classic characters to horror-themed comics featuring a vampire Veronica and a werewolf Jughead.

Archie Comics writer and illustrator Dan Parent said despite the differences and evolution in the comics in their nearly 80-year existence, Archie and his fellow characters have stayed largely true to form.

"The longevity of Archie is really a testament to their personalities," the American writer and artist said. "They're sort of a part of the fabric of America, as far as comic books go."

Parent is one of the guests at this weekend's Fan Expo in Regina, and will be chatting with people about his work over the last 30 years with the comic book publisher.

Parent said he began reading Archie comics when he was about five and later got his start with the publisher while attending art school. He said Archie Comics came around looking for someone to join the team and he fit the bill.

"Fortunately, I had done some work in the Archie style that they liked and from that point on, I've been working for Archie," he said. "I love it. I love the characters."

While the original Archie comics, written in a different time, may face criticism for sexism, Parent said he believes that there's been an evolution in the characters and their interactions. For instance, Betty and Veronica no longer just serve as objects of infatuation for Archie, he said.

"They'll stand on their own more."

Parent said fans can expect more Archie in the media, with the continuation of the popular television series Riverdale, which began in 2017, new comic book styles and classic Archie material.

And while there are many questions Parent will likely be able to answer for fans at the expo, there's one that people probably won't get satisfaction on — does Archie end up with Betty or Veronica?

"We do throw other characters in for him to date, but as far as specifically choosing one — I don't think so," said Parent.

Fan Expo runs May 5-6 at Evraz Place in Regina.