From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.179
Welcome back to another edition of our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we have something that’s kind of a comic as well as kind of a novel, but 100% comics related, with Archie Comics’ Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty!
Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty is a new novel, with some comic strip elements, that chronicles one of the favorite Archie characters, Betty, as she starts her Freshman year at Riverdale High, written from her point of view in diary form.
For those of you who think that is odd or out of the loop, I’ll first point out that this is a popular form for young readers. Back in 1997 the series Captain Underpants caught on for young readers with its hybrid novel-meets-comic book format. A few years later in 2004, Diary of a Wimpy Kid would start online, changing the Captain Underpants format to basically a diary format narrative with comic strip moments drawn in, tying into the story. Since 2004, Diary of a Wimpy Kid has jumped from online into numerous novels, becoming a best selling hit and much loved form for young readers. Archie has taken a nod from it and given us this Betty tale in this popular style.
As mentioned, the tale follows Betty as she starts off her freshman year. She has a light friendship with Jughead, a crush on that cute boy named Archie, and of course the ups and downs of growing pains between her and Veronica, as Veronica joins the “it” crowd and Betty just tries to be herself. Included are tales of first days, dog walking jobs, Halloween, BMX bike mishaps, and more, ending with a nice cap about her first dance.
Del Rio, known for the manga-inspired version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, does a great job as a writer here. Aside from the fact it really felt like Betty’s voice, the most impressive part was creating an interesting dynamic between Veronica and Betty that not just added an interesting arc to the book, but more importantly felt like it accurately reflected the ups and downs of trying to keep together a childhood relationship as two people become teenagers and start going their separate paths. This is something everyone has gone through, and the target audience the book is aimed at surely will connect with this specific relationship. The comic strips by Galvan are in a cute art style that although don’t look like the stuff we would see in the Archie comics, do the job and look like a doodle Betty could’ve done herself, helping add to the overall design element of the product.
Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty is out now in hardcover from Archie.
That’s it for now, see you soon!