Not only has Archie Andrews gotten a reboot, he’s also going to be in a musical soon. The 75-year-old comic franchise recently came out with a new issue #1 written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Fiona Staples, while writer/director Adam McKay (“Anchorman,” FunnyOrDie.com) will be working on the musical (updates will be posted on ArchieMusical.com).
For someone who loves to read and works in theater, Glenn Sevilla Mas—a teacher of Theater Arts at Ateneo de Manila University and current artistic director of Tanghalang Ateneo—is very excited about these developments. He can’t wait to get his hands on a copy of the “Archie” reboot. Not to mention the 21 variant covers. That’s a total of 22 copies of the same issue, but who’s counting?
“Ever since I was a child,” he recalls, “I’ve been familiar with Archie and the Riverdale gang. I’d see copies of ‘Archie’ comics everywhere, in the school library, in the classroom, my friends’ houses… I’d lose myself in their adventures, forget all my problems and have a good time with them.”
This multi-awarded playwright (nine wins in the Palanca Awards so far) likes “Archie” comics because, “like me and my friends, he’s not perfect. He loves his family and friends and will do everything he can to help them. He aims to please everyone which, of course, leads him to all sorts of trouble.
“The comics are a comforting escape. They remind me so much of my youth in Antique where I first encountered the series. They make me feel like the world is okay, people are nice and problems always get solved. For a 47-year-old like me who has been through and is going through a lot in life, that’s always a good thing to return to.”
Mas cried when publishers killed off the character in the “Death of Archie” story arc.
“Archie, dead?! Important, lovable characters in comics don’t die! So, tears!” he says.
Mas used to save his school allowance to buy books.
“It wasn’t a lot of books because my allowance wasn’t a lot either!” he says, laughing.
As soon as he started earning his own salary, he’d buy books “anywhere and everywhere I could.”
“Did I always plan to have a collection? Yes, but not just ‘Archie’ comics,” he notes. “I collect books on theater, film, art, collections of plays, etc.”
After spending three years in the United States for his master’s degree in playwriting, he brought back 12 balikbayan boxes filled with books.
“I also collect Philippine titles,” he says. “Since I have a lot of Pinoy writer friends, most of these books are signed by the authors.”
“I’m always looking out for ‘Archie’ comics,” he adds. “I find time to visit my favorite bookstores.”
Mas even has a copy of the Mega magazine issue with Betty and Veronica (Archie’s two girlfriends) on the cover.
Fully Booked’s Katipunan branch informs him “the moment new titles arrive.” Mas lives in the area, a short tricycle ride to Ateneo.
Nonetheless, finding all the different issues is not easy. Apart from the regular digests and double digest editions, there are the 1,000-page editions and giant editions.
There are also different series: “Life With,” “Married Life,” “Afterlife With” (in which Archie’s best friend Jughead becomes a zombie and infects the town), “Best Of,” “Americana,” etc.
Fortunately, Mas has thoughtful friends. “I am very grateful for their generosity,” he says.
For the “Death of Archie” story arc, 10 variant covers were released. “It’s an event for ‘Archie’ comics,” says Mas, “so that’s great, right? The problem now is, where in the Philippines do you get them?”
Mas has posted a message on Facebook, stressing his “need, need, need(ed)” to acquire the variant copies. Minutes later, friends based in the United States began to heed his plea. He now has eight of the 10 covers.
For his birthday earlier this year, a friend sent him the “Death of Archie” Double Sized Commemorative Issue.
Meanwhile, as he juggles his many hats as playwright, university professor, artistic director and juror for the Philstage Gawad Buhay, the search continues for more “Archie” comics for his collection—and the new “Jughead” reboot issue #1, too.