Later this month, writers Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio will join artist Audrey Mok for a reboot of Josie and the Pussycats, returning to Archie Comics as part of the best-selling New Riverdale initiative.
"Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio have crafted a really relatable, fun and rockin' new series that is brought to life beautifully by Audrey Mok," Archie President and Editor Mike Pellerito told me during our Everything's Archie conversation earlier this month. "I think this is one book that'll really hook fans right away. It's one of those books you just want to run forever."
Co-writers Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio joined ComicBook.com via e-mail to discuss the upcoming launch, the challenges of writing a music-heavy comic, and what fans can expect from the latest iteration of the beloved franchise.
The Final Order Cutoff date for Josie & the Pussycats #1 is coming up on Tuesday, September 6, so get hold of your local comic shop if you want a copy. You can also pre-order it digitally via ComiXology.
You can also check out a gallery of covers and some inked pages in the attached image gallery.
How closely tied is Josie & the Pussycats going to be with the other New Riverdale titles? Do you talk with the other writers or more or less do your thing?
Marguerite Bennett: Well, as I write this, I am in Ryan North's house, eating his food, petting his dog, touching his belongings, getting my cooties on everything. I will slowly take over his life. Josie and Jughead will become one. [Laughs]
Other than that, the title is pretty independent! You might see some cameos of beloved characters, but we wanted to make sure that story worked well for new readers who maybe didn't know the Riverdale universe!
Was there any discussion of making Josie African-American to sync up with Riverdale, since it launches right after your comic does?
Cameron DeOrdio: First off, let me say I'm super excited to see Ashleigh Murray's take on Josie in Riverdale! She'll absolutely kill it.
Bennett: Apart from that, we'd finished two scripts before we saw the announcement of the casting and had a terrible "Wait?! You can do that?! WHY DIDN'T WE DO THAT" moment, for which I hope you will forgive us. Ultimately, they are different universes with different components at play. I'm gonna be making popcorn at that Riverdale premiere.
On that note, is there anything to be taken away from previous other-media adaptations, or are you strictly reinventing with the classic comics as your base?
DeOrdio: I adore the 2001 movie. We're definitely working to weave some callbacks in there, where they make sense and are funny in their own right. We'll certainly be pulling inspiration from the comics and cartoon, too, of course, but for context, I definitely have the movie soundtrack on a CD in this very apartment.
Bennett: There will be Easter eggs for fans of other adaptations, but we wanted this to be a really accessible jumping on point for new fans or people who haven't read in a while or longtime fans just curious for a new take. You don't have to know anything about Archie or Riverdale to enjoy the story, we hope.
For instance, any chance we'll see the Pussycats head into space?!) (Sorry, Adam P. Knave put me up to that.)
DeOrdio: In space, no one can hear you rock.
Bennett: Spoilers, sweetie. ;)
What are the challenges of writing a comic that's so music-centric when comics are, y'know...NOT an audio medium?
DeOrdio: I am SO. GRATEFUL. Most of the lyricizing has fallen to me (that's not a complaint!), but it is decidedly not my wheelhouse. I think what we've got in here has turned out pretty well, but it benefits a lot from readers being able to imagine their own catchy melodies.
That said, when the Pussycats do perform, Audrey is really great at portraying that kinetic feeling of a live show. She gives the performances an energy that's fantastic.
Especially looking forward to the solicitation for #2, it seems as though you guys are going a little more "classic" than the other New Riverdale titles. What motivates that?
Bennett: I'm actually not sure that's true, so sorry! I think we might actually be the largest departure from the classic material. First I think I should clarify: JOSIE is not all-ages. It's about young women in their 20s struggling with friendship, talent, ambition, jet ski chases, animal smuggling, biker gangs, hover boards, and love in the modern world.
The dialogue is quick, sharp, funny, mean, and true, and Audrey's art is sleek, vibrant, clever, and gorgeous. The story is ultimately about growing up and coming to terms with unpleasant truths, both about the world and about yourself. Nothing on the page will scandalize, but there are elements in humor that are not for the younger set, I think, haha. The characters are honest, not aspirational.
Do you have any favorite music to listen to while you're writing Josie & the Pussycats? Or any favorite music-infused comics that you've looked at again?
DeOrdio: I know I went back for another look at the Fletcher/Wu/Loughridge Black Canary, though that may have been just because it's fantastic.
Bennett: I actually don't have one! Cameron is much more focused. I also have terrible taste in music. All I listen to is Disney, showtunes, and Rammstein.
Another thing about #2: Why take the book OUT of Riverdale so quickly?
Bennett: We're on tour, baby! Hustle hustle.
Will touring be a big part of the series?
Bennett: Touring is definitely a big part of the series. Each issue functions as a one-shot adventure in each town or city or stop, with a current of emotional growth and shifting relationships that snake the stories together. We're going lots of places and getting into a LOT of mischief.
Audrey is so key here—her designs of each locale, each character, how the girls learn and grow from each environment is reflected in the tiniest details and the biggest expressions and the funniest ways in her art. Seriously, we wrote this series FOR Audrey. We go to each place because we want to see Audrey's version of it, haha.
What can you say about the band's dynamic? Obviously in different iterations there have been little differences about the way the girls interact.
DeOrdio: We want the girls' interactions to be loving, and funny, and quick.0comments
Bennett: They screw up. They're honest about their screw-ups. They're learning to support each other, but I wanted to write women who felt real, not women who felt artificially perfect, who felt like bait for a "This is good female representation!!" articles.
Do you remember what it was like to be 24 and starting out, eating ramen noodles and getting your first break, fighting with your friends and drinking in your underwear? Josie, Valerie, and Melody love each other, and they're learning to love each other better, to be better friends and better people. It's fun and funny and quick and sharp, and I hope it makes you laugh. I hope it feels new.