Archie Comics Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit has just launched another of her “Kindness Works Comics” featuring Scarlet, an autistic student at Riverdale High – a project with a royal connection that almost got taken over by recent events surrounding Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan.
“Archie Royal – Across the Pond with Love” finds the British press pursuing Veronica on a hot tip that she has a connection with “Archie” – which of course she does, but perhaps some wires crossed…
The short story also reminds fans of Nancy’s special projects about Scarlet’s special circumstances as an autistic student, and is a truly international affair, written by Dan Watters, with art by Angeliki Salamaliki, colour by Dheeraj Kumar Mishra, lettered by Andrew Thomas, with a smashing cover from Fernando Ruiz.
As we’ve previously reported, Nancy hopes these special comics can help teach kindness to and inclusion of those on the autism spectrum and others referred to as neurodiverse. Coincidentally, it’s been published in the same week that Chi Chi Izundu reported for BBC News that an estimated one in seven people are neurodivergent in the UK – but this isn’t something that is routinely acknowledged in the workplace.
(Neurodivergence – also known as neurodiversity – is a term many people may not be familiar with. It refers to the community of people who have dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, are on the autism spectrum, or have other neurological functions).
Although the “Across the Pond with Love” project has had a few hiccups not of the team’s making, Nancy is delighted with the final result, now available to order from her direct, all part of her work as “an ambassador for kindness” and reaching out to global fans directly.
“For me, comic books are not only a bridge to enable reading but a very important literary experience that instils a love for reading,” says Nancy.
“Dan Watters did a smashing job,” she enthuses. “I like Angeliki Salamaliki’s art and I just love the colours by Dheeraj Kumar Mishra, as well as Fernando’s cover.
“I do hope folks connect to the art Fernando did for the cover a wonderful job in bringing out the landscape of another place on our planet,” she adds. “Andrew who’s from Canada, also did an amazing job on the lettering, too. There was so much information put into a few pages!”
Several months in the making, “Across the Pond with Love”, despite its short page count, went through a large number of changes in development – and with Prince Harry and partner Meghan and son Archie now stepping back from royal duties, there was a bit of eleventh hour hair tearing as Nancy made some final tweaks to the comic to reflect current events.
Nancy told downthetubes she has every sympathy for anyone facing family relation tensions – even Royals.
“The love around the Archie name is no longer just Archie Comics but another element that may interest Archie watchers is that Archie Comics has been a family business for 80 years,” she noted. “The foundation of family business come with emotions that can spark problems which might just be one element to the recent Royal news.”
Nancy, who has also created an anti-bullying comic titled “Rise Above”, can certainly empathise with Meghan Markle, who has faced hostility from some quarters of the British media, and others.
When Nancy stepped out of the classroom into her husband’s royal seat and kingdom, she found herself quickly under attack, but has risen above it, remaining focused on her determination to use comics to educate and learn.
Having chatted with her a number of times now, I admire her kindness and compassion to block out the negative and live who you want to be – and not fall into the media frenzy trying to sensationalise false rumours or get caught in others hatred.
Another lovely and funny “Kindness Work” tale, it’s great to see Scarlet’s latest appearance – let’s hope there are more in the works, because her creator has clearly put a lot of time and effort into developing the character.
“Scarlet is a gentle child who wants to be included in the social circle, and she is often misunderstood,” Nancy has said previously. “She helps all of us to understand that people just want to be treated with respect and kindness.
“We are each unique individuals – but we all want to be included and treated kindly,” she continues. “Much of the problems of bullying and seeing other people as different stems from ignorance; and the antidote is awareness.
“Wouldn’t we live in a better world if we embraced our differences rather than being scared of them?”
• “Archie: Royal – Across the Pond with Love” is available as a PDF through Paypal firstname.lastname@example.org at $1.99
How do you make your workplace more welcoming to neurodiverse employees, and ensure their talent is nurtured? An estimated one in seven people are neurodivergent in the UK but this isn’t something that is routinely acknowledged in the workplace
• Exceptional Individuals is the first employment partnership for #dyslexic and #neurodivergent people, providing in-work support, recruitment and consultancy services. Follow them on Twitter @exceptional_Ind
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War” and “Dan Dare”.
He’s the writer of “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.