Back in the early 1990s, Archie Comics released an ambitious series of titles aimed at illustrating how the veteran indie publisher could tell different types of stories using their characters. These various books ranged from interesting failures (Jughead’s Diner, Explorers of the Unknown) to regrettable curiosites (Archie’s R/C Racers, no). Yet much like Marty McFly unleashing rock and roll at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, one of these experiments was so far ahead of its, er, time that it would take a generation to pick up what Archie was throwing down.
That title was Jughead’s Time Police.
Despite only running for a measly six issues, Jughead’s Time Police foreshadowed the Archie creative renaissance that began a decade ago by telling a status quo-shattering story that pushed the parameters of these characters while maintaining what made them so lovable in the first place.
In the original run, Jughead became an agent for the Time Police, an agency determined to protect the proper flow of history. Utilizing a special version of his famed whoopee cap to travel through time, he is partnered with January McAdams, a deputy with the agency who just so happens to be Archie’s descendant whose home timeline in this 29th century. Together, they encountered historical figures and battled the villainous Morgan Le Fay in an effort to preserve time from falling into the usual chaos that paradoxes and mucking about with the past (and future can cause).
It was a weird book, and one whose stories featured DNA traces of everything from Quantum Leap to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Doctor Who to Moonlighting (the latter in reference to the would-be romance between Jughead and January). It may have all been a bit too jarring for 1990 readers, but now that Archie is known for shaking things up, audiences have gone back and rediscovered the series. Following popularity on the Archie digital app, a trade paperback of the complete Jughead’s Time Police was issued last April, paving the way for the latest example of how everything old is new again, a forthcoming five issue mini-series reboot of the title from the creative team of writer Sina Grace (Iceman) and artist Derek Charm (who recently worked on the Jughead relaunch for the company, and is also known for his work on The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). Matt Herms is the colorist, with Jack Morelli working as letterer for the book, which will become an ongoing title if the demand is there following the mini-series’ launch. Fingers crossed.
Via e-mail, we had the opportunity to speak to Grace and Charm to get their thoughts on why Jughead’s Time Police has endured, and what we can expect from the new title.
Given the timey wimey nature of the material, will this be a reboot of the story, a continuation of the original adventures or something else entirely?
Sina Grace – The best way to put it is, we’re catching a version of the Jughead we know and love from the Mark Waid/Chip Zdarsky/ Ryan North books. His efforts to prevent the catastrophe that was his pie baking contest end up creating a pretty massive space-time continuum issue. He’ll be meeting January McAndrews for the first time. That’s all I can say for now.
How did you each become involved in the project?
Derek Charm – We’d all been talking about doing something new with Jughead for a while, pretty much since right after the previous series ended, but it was about finding the right angle and the right story and everyone’s schedules lining up. I’m glad it took as long as it did because it’s awesome to be diving back into this world with enough space between what we did before to reevaluate certain things and hopefully come up with something fresh and exciting.
Grace – Well, of all the Archie crew, I love, love, love Jughead. No matter who interprets him, I feel like I totally relate. I had been trying to find a project to work on with editor Alex Segura. First it was a standard Jughead series with a very grounded plot, and it wasn’t a fit. We stayed in touch, meaning I persistently hounded him and begged for a chance to play with the Archie cast. It was actually his idea for me to revisit those stories and see if I had my take on Jughead needing to put on his time travel cap.
What is it about Jughead and January’s relationship that has connected with readers?
Grace – I’ll just be blunt: I think at face value it’s because January idolizes Jughead, and Jughead loves the access to a future where he’s an iconic historical figure. That being said, I truly think that fans enjoy seeing Jughead get to play the lead in an action story with an equally zingy co-captain. He totally respects January, and their chemistry is unique.
Derek, obviously you have a great deal of experience in working with these characters, how will you approach your art for this book differently than your traditional Jughead work, if at all?
Charm – I’m treating this a whole new thing visually. For every character and location that comes up, I try to take a new look and do something different than we did before. I’m really excited for what’s coming with the different time periods and different takes on the established characters that we’ll be seeing. Also, it’s hard to believe, but The CW’s Riverdale wasn’t around when I started on Jughead the first time, so that’s a whole new aspect of Archie history to take inspiration from.
Are you personally a fan of the sci-fi comedy genre? If so, what are some of your influences?
Grace – You know, I never even made the connection that there was a category for that genre! But yeah, for sure! Bill & Ted is obviously a hallmark. Is Back to the Future sci-fi comedy, or just a sci-fi movie that happens to be funny? I really liked Russian Doll. The humor and character play in Firefly still sticks with me. Thor: Ragnarok was absolutely amazing and hilarious and deeeeeeply sci-fi. I need to spend more time with Future Man, man.
What are some science fiction works you draw influence from, and can we expect to see nods to these in this new series?
Charm – Back to the Future has been a really big one, obviously, but mainly for the tone. Sina’s scripts are so quick and fun and it’s the same kind of vibe where Doc Brown just has a time machine car and it’s beside the point because things are happening and you just have to keep up with the story and have fun.
Why do you think Jughead’s Time Police has gathered such a cult following since its initial run?
Grace – Everyone loves a good time travel story, and I think Jughead’s really the only character in that cast who would revel in the fun of it all. Plus, the 29th century is such a cool place to be. That’s what I’m most excited about with this series — we’ll be spending a good amount of time in the future, and exploring what that world looks like. Derek has already turned in some amazing work, and I too am now trying to figure out how jump forward by a few months to June and see readers’ reactions!
What can you tell us about what to expect with this series?
Grace – Anybody who has read my work over at Marvel Comics knows I have a deep understanding of how complicated time travel can be, and how much fun divergent timelines can be, too! I learned a lot at the House of Ideas, and I’m excited to basically crib “Days of Future Past” for the Archieverse.
Just kidding. I’m gonna have time-displaced Riverdale middle school students show up. I tease! But, for real? There may be some pouches in the series.
Jughead’s Time Police hits stores on June 12th, and Den of Geek has your exclusive first look at variant covers from Tyler Boss, Robert Hack with Kelly Fitzpatrick, Tracy Yardley, and Francesco Francavilla. Take a look:
We’ll have more on Jughead’s Time Police in the months ahead….or is that five minutes ago? This time travel stuff gets confusing quick.