Sunday, November 16

An Exclusive Interview with the Late Dan DeCarlo - Part 2 (Conducted Fourteen Years Ago)

Thanks for your patience, here is the second and final part of my interview with Dan DeCarlo…

Me: How long do you think you will continue to draw for ARCHIE?
Dan DeCarlo: As long as I can. I really like to draw. It all depends on how my health holds out. Right now I have a clean bill, but you never know. God might tap me on the shoulder one day, and everything would change.

Me: There is a new generation of writers and artists at Archie Comics; do you see them making the same mistakes that you did when you began in the business?

DD: Dan Parent and I work a lot together. I rough the art out, and he finishes them. Then I send it to my inker (Alison Flood) to finish it. Dan, and the other younger artists at ARCHIE will succeed in this business, if they continue to be motivated. If they are motivated enough they certainly can make it easily.

Me: Stan Goldberg, among others have worked at ARCHIE for about the same length of time as you, do you have a friendly relationship with them?

DD: Yes. Stan and I are good friends. As a matter of fact, we’re going out tomorrow. Stan, Henry Scarpelli and I are all great friends.
Me: Many artists enjoy drawing for certain writers, because they know that they are going to be dealing with quality work. Do you have any favorite writers?

DD: I like Frank Doyle. When I first started to work on Archie, I got his stories. I think he’s the best. He has a way of writing that I’m able to illustrate humorously. He’s got a nice pacing that’s never boring. He’s an old pro, and knows how to handle the situations.

Me: There are many famous settings in the comics, such as Pop’s Chock’lil Shoppe, Riverdale High, Archie’s living room, the Lodge mansion, Riverdale beach, etc. Which is your favorite?

DD: (laughs) I enjoy the beach stories. Everything flows easy, and there’s very little perspective. The summer stories are my absolute favorite, even dressing the kids is a lot of fun. As for the other settings, I like the soda shop. We change them constantly. If you follow the books, you’ll notice that the Ice Cream shop is never the same twice. I think it’s important, because it’s inclined to get boring otherwise. Years ago, they wanted us to have the same living room with the same furniture in the same place, but they dropped it. It gets too dull. Now, if you look at the furniture in one story, and if they are in the living room for a few panels, you’ll start to see that the furniture moves. (laughs)

Me: You are well known for your work on the Betty and Veronica books, and commonly referred to as the cover artist at ARCHIE. Is it gratifying for you to view your work on the cover of a comic even though you have done so many of them?

DD: Oh yes. There are some covers that I really like. I sell most of the original art, but there are a few that I hang on to. I like covers, because in one piece of art it sums up a story. I spend much more time working on the cover art. In the grocery store, when my granddaughter sees any of my artwork she yells, “my Poppy did that!”

Me: I’m sure everyone knows that Betty is your favorite character, but why?

DD: Many people say that they can see it in my artwork. I really like Betty more than Veronica. I can relate to Betty – middle class, etc. I don’t know any girls as rich as Veronica. It takes me much longer to draw Veronica. That just proves that Betty can flow off my pencil easily. (laughs)

Me: As well as having teenagers in Riverdale, there are many adults too. Who are your favorite adult characters?
DD: I like to draw Weatherbee, Grundy and I guess Pop too. I get a big kick out of Mr. Lodge, but only when Archie’s driving him nuts.

Me: What do you remember that you can share with us, about The Archies when they reached the top of the Billboard charts with their hit “Sugar, Sugar?”

DD: Oh wow. There were all kinds of excitement around that time. Things were just sizzling for the characters at that time. The heads of the company were considering many ways to market the characters. Books were selling like crazy. They also tried to do a couple of themed restaurants around that time.
Me: How do you research the clothes our beloved gang wears, do you go through magazines, visit high schools…?

DD: I subscribe to all the teen magazines. It’s hard to use a lot of it, because it’s too stylish. The best thing to do is observe. Look at what the teenagers are wearing, and go with that. If don’t see them wearing what’s in the magazines don’t bother drawing it.

Me: Do you get a lot of fan mail?

DD: Quite a bit. I see ten to twelve letters a week. I try to respond to as many as I can. I really need a secretary. (laughs) I get a lot of mail for autographs, and requests for specific sketches of the characters.

Me: Occasionally, I have seen stories that you had a hand in writing. Do you plan to write more stories in the future?

DD: When I started to work at ARCHIE, I was writing my own stories. Then when I wanted to expand, I dropped the writing. Nowadays, I do some covers when I think I have a good idea. I find writing much harder than drawing.

Me: Have you ever based a story on a major experience in your life?

DD: I try to get some incidents that happened to me which are funny into the stories. In covers, I will try to put in situations.
Me: Do you have any tips for fans that want to become a comic book artist?

DD: If you like to draw, and you have to draw a lot, just go for it. My instructor at arts school said, “draw every time you have an opportunity, even if it’s of a tea cup.” I always drew a lot when I was starting. I would take out a pad and pencil and draw on the train at the end of the day, regardless of being too tired to do so. I really love it.

Me: Do you feel that you are still learning on how to improve your artwork?

DD: Yes. It’s very interesting; a lot of my fans say that I’m getting better and better. Sometimes getting better is really getting worse. You might become inclined to lose the feeling.

Me: What’s your opinions on the infamous love triangle between Archie, Betty and Veronica?

DD: Bob Montana’s version of it was: Archie loves Veronica, Veronica had him on a string, and Betty loves Archie. Now it seems like there isn’t a triangle anymore. Better is dating Archie, and Veronica feels that she could take Archie away anytime she likes. The real triangle isn’t there anymore. Betty is considered Archie’s girl, and Veronica will date Reggie.

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Who Is Your Dan DeCarlo?

An Exclusive Interview with the Late Dan DeCarlo - Part 1