MANILA -- Hold the presses and pinch the girl to make sure she isn’t dreaming!
Lifelong comic book fan and illustrator Rian Gonzales got to live out her dream when she was asked to provide cover art for the relaunched “Betty and Veronica” #1 that will be out in all comic book stores by Thursday.
And this coming weekend, this talented young woman who read — and still does — Archie comics as a kid, will be signing copies of the first issue at Comic Odyssey at Fully Booked Promenade, Bonifacio Global City (1-4 p.m., July 23) and at Filbar’s UP Town Center in Diliman, Quezon City (2-6 p.m., July 24).
"Betty and Veronica" is the third relaunched title from the successful update on the popular Archie line of comics. The new book follows the successful relaunches of “Archie" (by Mark Waid and Fionat Staples/ Annie Wu) and “Jughead" (Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson) and will be written and drawn by noted “cheesecake’” artist Adam Hughes. Gonzales is one of 25 different artists who are doing variant covers.
The Filipina artist was discovered by chance after she posted on Twitter her take of Archie, Betty, and Veronica.
"I like the new series (the Waid and Staples/Wu book) so much that I drew Betty, Veronica and Archie in my style,” said the 23-year old freelance illustrator. "I posted it on my Twitter and I was surprised to see Fiona Staples commented on it! Shortly after, I received a mail from my online store with a subject: 'Riverdale Greetings.' I had to double-check and make sure that it wasn't wrongly sent! That was Jonathan Betancourt, director of book operations and sales for Archie Comics, who told me they were planning to reboot Betty and Veronica and thought that my art was perfect for it.”
Once Gonzales snapped out of her fangirl reverie, she buckled down to work.
"I initially made three studies for the editors to choose from for the cover and they picked the one I liked the least! It was Mike Pellerito, Archie Comics president, who chose it. As I was working on it, I realized why they picked it! It has a more interesting layout and it showed a lot of the characters. It was also the most challenging of the three so I was also thankful that I got to brush up into drawing backgrounds for the project,” she said.
It’s a dream come true for the young artist who during her school days would save up her money to buy comic books (among others).
"Growing up, I'd save up a bit of my allowance to read Archie comics, Spider-Man, and W.I.T.C.H. More recently, my absolute favorites are Paper Girls, Batgirl, Gotham Academy, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and of course, Archie Comics! I'm currently on the lookout for the DC Rebirth Nightwing and the Teen Titans titles! I read a bunch of mangas too," she said.
"Archie comics was a big part of my childhood. To see them change throughout the years was such a pleasure. When I found out about the reboot, I was sure I'd already be following the series! I even got more interested when I found out that one of my art idols will be illustrating the interiors for it! Mark Waid's writing on this series is incomparable! He managed to stay true to the characters' personalities and added more depth into them! It was truly a treat reading through all the issues."
Following her twin signings, Gonzales will participate in the upcoming AsiaPop ComicCon in August. "I'm making art for that,” she quipped.
"I'll also be part of the INK at 25 exhibit sometime in September at the Ayala Museum,” added Gonzales. "Cover art-wise, nothing soon that I can divulge at the moment but definitely keep your eyes peeled!"