Bite Sized Archie Volume 1, published on May 17, 2022, collects the first year of the weekly webcomic Bite Sized Archie. In addition to 52 comic strips, the printed collection contains bonus material like behind-the-scenes content from the creative team, as well as character sketches. In celebration of this new release, Geek’d Out had the opportunity to interview the creators: writer Ron Cacace and artist Vincent Lovallo. Check it out below!
AF (Anelise Farris): Before diving into Bite Sized Archie, how did you both get involved with comics and Archie Comics in particular?
RC (Ron Cacace): I’ve loved comic books since I was a kid. My older brother was a big comics reader and I wanted to be like him, so I would go with him to this comic shop in New Brunswick, NJ, called Comic Attitudes. I was in and out of comics for a few years in my early teens but got back into things when I found flipbooks of new Marvel titles at my local corner store. From that point on, I was full on into comics again and never looked back. I interned at Marvel in 2010 after networking through Twitter, and in 2014, when Archie Comics was looking for a new publicity coordinator, I applied and was hired! I worked for Archie on staff for seven years, handling social media, marketing, and PR responsibilities, and eventually creating BITE SIZED ARCHIE with Vincent!
VL (Vincent Lovallo): I recall my earliest exposure to comics being the newspaper strips The Family Circus and B.C., but I also remember getting the Bionicle comics alongside my subscription to LEGO magazine. When I was about 12 or 13, I remember going to Big Top, which is a stationery store in Harrison, NY. They had all sorts of periodicals, but I’ll never forget the large amount of Archie comics they carried. Upon walking into the store, there would be digests lined up to the left side and comics along the wall. I was really into their action and adventure titles, and fortunately for me in early 2011, I saw online that Archie Comics was looking for a production intern for their action and adventure department, so I applied and got the job! I’ve come a long way from my time as an intern, now serving as art director, and, as Ron said, working with him on BITE SIZED ARCHIE!
AF: From current events to popular culture, the inspiration behind each Bite Sized Archie comic strip seems endless! What is the selection process like for choosing what to depict each week? Do you have an ongoing list of material?
RC: We do our best to keep the stories relevant without seeming like they’re pandering or trying too hard to be current! We do have a list of starting points, like high profile movie releases or holidays, but more often we see if there are any fun trends or pop culture moments that we can jump on quickly. The weekly nature of the comic allows us to incorporate a trend in a much quicker fashion than if we were to publish the comic in print!
VL: Ron covered all the major inspirations, though I’d like to add that some of it stems from personal stories and our own interests, so long as it’s funny, relatable, and ties back to the core of the characters.
AF: I am impressed not only by the amount of Easter eggs (not just from the world of Archie and co.) but also how accessible it is for people who might not be as well-versed in popular culture. Each comic strip is relatable and hilarious. Is this wide-audience appeal intentional?
RC: Absolutely. We wanted this comic to be something that had references and callbacks for longtime fans but was accessible and relatable for people who had never even heard of Archie Comics. You can’t expand your audience just by showing it to the same people who have always shown up. You have to make sure those folks are happy, of course, but you should also be looking for ways to grab the attention of their friends or family who might not be regular readers. That’s hugely important.
VL: Any strip could be someone’s first, which is why accessibility is so important. Even in their design, I wanted each character to be instantly recognizable to long-time fans and easy to identify for new readers. Bringing it back to the core of the characters is key. They are timeless, and it’s that quality that allows them to jump on trends without feeling out of place.
AF: What are some of the challenges and rewards of creating Bite Sized Archie?
RC: Keeping the dialogue and action to a minimum is always challenging. These are meant to be quick reads and super accessible, so the set-up for the joke or punchline need to get delivered quickly through the art and words. It’s also a bit difficult to balance a large cast, as I always want to use a wide variety of characters but only have so much space!
VL: It’s always a challenge when I’m designing a new location or character, but it’s rewarding when fans see the finished result and really get a kick out of it. Every character is someone’s favorite, so when they show up for the first time in the BITE SIZED style, it’s a big deal!
AF: As a weekly webcomic that has now been collected in its first volume, do you have a recommended reading experience? I eagerly devoured one after another, but I imagine that a reader with more restraint than myself might enjoy reading one a day–or even one a week if they can resist!
RC: I recommend reading each comic on its own first, without reading the special features, and then go back to the beginning and read them over again with the extra commentary and artwork. That’s the closest experience to getting them digitally, unless you want to wait a week in between reading each comic!
VL: I agree with Ron. It’s the same way I would watch a movie or TV series. Go through it once just to enjoy the strips as they are, then go back for a “second bite” so that you can enjoy all the behind-the-scenes content.
AF: This question is two-fold: First, who is your favorite character to depict from the Archie universe? Second, which character do you identify with the most, and why?
RC: I love writing Jughead. It’s so easy for me to put him in silly stories. As far as which character I identify with the most? Probably Reggie. I’ve got a lot of Reggie’s mischievous nature in me. I’m a rascal.
VL: From his iconic crown to his pointy nose, Jughead is my favorite to draw. He’s usually very relaxed, so when Ron puts him in a situation where he gets to emote beyond that, it’s always a good time. His easy-going nature and love of food is something I can also identify with. I’m usually a “go with the flow” kind of guy, and if there are burgers and fries on the table, you can count on me to finish the job.
AF: As someone who grew up begging her mom to buy the Archie digests at the grocery store, to now eagerly consuming all Archie media and wearing her Jughead Jones beanie and Southside Serpents jacket any chance she can get (which is not a lot in Southeast Georgia…), I often wonder about the longevity of these characters. What do you think contributes to their tenacity?
RC: It’s been said before but I think that people recognize a bit of themselves and people they know in each of the characters. The relatability of the characters and the way they’ve adapted to the times, while still remaining iconic and recognizable, is the key to why they’re still thriving across comics and TV today.
VL: Ron’s right, and I know I mentioned it before, but these characters are timeless by nature. You can put them in any situation and they will always react or engage in their trademark way with the guarantee that it will be entertaining.
AF: Besides Archie, obviously, what is a favorite franchise that you hope to work with in the future?
RC: I’m a huge fan of the Halo franchise. I’d love to write a weekly webcomic set in the Halo universe starring John Halo, the main character from the Halo games.
VL: I’d love to work with Wayforward on an official Shantae comic one day. I feel like that series has such a great cast of characters and a seemingly endless world to explore; the possibilities for stories are endless!
AF: Another “besides Archie obviously” question, what are you enjoying reading/watching/playing/listening to right now?
RC: I’m playing a lot of Halo Infinite. My wife and I have started watching Law and Order: SVU from the beginning, and we’re almost at Season 4. I just cracked open the new Thor by Jason Aaron omnibus. And I’m always listening to Twice or ITZY. I’m on a junk food diet in terms of pop culture because that’s all I can muster up the strength for these days. If there’s a risk of any kind of emotional development or higher learning taking place, I will zone out immediately.
VL: I’m enjoying a lot! Currently reading a Walt Stanchfield lecture book, Drawn to Life, which discusses all different aspects of animation. I started watching Obi-Wan Kenobi after rewatching the prequel trilogy with my fiancé, who I was surprised to learn had never seen them before! I’m also jumping between multiple games, Until Dawn, Kirby and the Forgotten Land, and Switch Sports, and jamming out to Jimmy Eat World and Motion City Soundtrack!
AF: Finally, where can readers follow your work?
RC: I’m @Rawnzilla on Twitter and Instagram and pretty much everywhere else. I spend a lot of time on Twitter because I’m hopelessly addicted and I’ll probably die tweeting on the toilet someday.
VL: I’m @Vincredible_23 on Twitter and @vinstergram23 on Instagram. I mainly use them to share my artwork, so you won’t see me tweeting too much!