14 January 2016

Prequel to Oedipus Ram

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Everybody knows about Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica and Reggie, beloved comic strip teenagers who've been entertaining kids since the years of the Second World War. Most people know that these characters formed a make-believe Rock 'n' Roll band in the late 1960s, that they featured in a wildly successful Saturday morning TV show, and that a real-life Archies studio group went on to amass a song catalog. That catalog, sung by Ron Dante and written and produced by Jeff Barry, yielded "Sugar, Sugar", an international Number One single in 1969. However, very few people know about the cartoon group that will succeed The Archies a little more than a decade from now! Who are these Pop Art creations, what's their connection to the original group, and what crucial role will Bree Spellman (formerly Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) play in their formation? All is revealed in this capsule version of The New Archies saga!

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After writing and illustrating a six-part online graphic novel called "Say Goodbye To Riverdale" which depicted The Archies as an adult Rock 'n' Roll band, DC Hampton Jacobs (AKA Stuffed Animal) decided to extend his storyline past the group's farewell concert in the year 2032. By that time, Bree Spellman is a successful record producer based in Boston, Massachusetts. Archie and his wife Veronica approach Bree in 2037 and ask her to put together a new Archies group "to carry forward our musical legacy." With help from her amazingly gifted animal friends, Salem the Cat and Nero the Dog, she auditions and chooses the six founding members of The New Archies.


Stuffed Animal wanted The New Archies to be as different from The Archies as he could make them! They are definitely not a Bubblegum Rock band (although they do record a hit album in that style). Except for one member, they are not White. Half of them are Gay, and one member is Transsexual; what's more, all are adults when the band is formed. Yet, four of them have connections to the original group: As a teenager, singer and percussionist Mal Hypster sang background vocals on one of Archie's solo albums. Also as a teenager, keyboardist Rikki Ninja was mentored by Reggie Mantle. Singer and bass player Donna Dante is the long-lost daughter of Ron Dante, vocal coach for The Archies and later their producer; and singer/guitarist Garcy Briseño is the daughter of Archie's high school buddy Dilton Doiley. (Garcy also sang background vocals on The Archies' final studio album.)  Rounding out the band are sax player Toby Maxx from Sweden, and session drummer Frankie Fujiyama, a native Hawaiian. All but Dee Dee (Donna Dante) are seasoned session musicians who've worked with Bree Spellman before.

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The New Archies' graphic novel is called "Mama Can't Buy You Love" after their first hit record; the title also references Bree Spellman's maternal relationship to the members. As was the case with the adult Archies, relationship dynamics drive the story: Garcy is as conceited as they come! Chi (that's Mal Hypster) is a sex addict! Ninja is a control freak. Toto (Toby Maxx) suffers from alcoholism. Dee Dee and Fuji (Frankie Fujiyama) have a stormy love affair, and so do Chi and Toto. Unlucky in love, Ninja hops in and out of bed with both Dee Dee and Garcy. 

Bree has a heavy-handed production style that doesn't sit well with the band members, but she isn't the "b*tch" of the narrative.  That role belongs to evil-ass Carmen Serna, a salsa-singing sorceresss who gets rejected at the audition.  Carmen craves revenge and uses voodoo to sabotage The New Archies! She hexes their first few music downloads, and they fail to sell.

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But their kind of star power can't be suppressed for long.  After dazzling attendees at the first Riverdale Rock Festival in 2039, the Boston-based sextet scores several best-selling singles and four million-selling albums in a row. In addition, they star in a hit Broadway musical written by Betty Cooper that's the hottest ticket of the year 2040.


Yet that same year, personality conflicts and personal ambitions begin disintegrating The New Archies. Fuji quits to pursue an acting career, and Dee Dee quits after losing Fuji to Carmen Serna; then Garcy goes solo. The remaining members call it quits in 2042 after performing at the funeral of Reggie Mantle; but the story isn't over yet!


A smash hit compilation of The New Archies' 2038-40 work with Bree Spellman, along with a triumphant return to the Riverdale Rockfest in 2047 prompts the decision to reform the band. Punk Rock guitarist extraordinaire Lana Suzuki replaces Garcy, Ninja moves into Garcy's lead vocalist spot, and Chi takes over Fuji's drum kit. With Bree's blessing, Toto and Ninja take over production duties, and the group's recording hub shifts from her Witch Queen Studios to Toby Maxx's new home studio, The Mad Groovy Pad. A chart-topping single and two critically-acclaimed albums (one of them a TV soundtrack) are cut by this five-person ensemble; but overall, the reformed New Archies fail to duplicate their previous success.


Chi and Toto go through an acrimonious breakup, and Dee Dee quits again after the group's TV series flops; she follows Fuji into the acting profession. Then Susu (Lana Suzuki) stops touring due to family issues, henceforth taking an enhanced role in the studio. With help from Bree Spellman's filthy rich cousin Ambrose, the group's male members stage the most successful concert tour of the year 2051.  This tour pushes their penultimate studio album to the top of the charts! However, The New Archies have seen the writing on the wall; they disband for good in early 2053. Chi and Ninja go on to cut solo albums, and along with Toto (increasingly sidelined by his drinking problem), they back Donna Dante on her solo debut in 2054. At her album sessions, Dee Dee meets and later marries multi-instrumentalist Ramsay Khalid Sharma; Ram is an old friend of producer Lana Suzuki, and she hires him to arrange and conduct the music.


In 2057, the 20th anniversary of their founding, the members of The New Archies decide to cut a proper farewell album. Frankie Fujiyama declines to take part, but Garcy Briseño returns to sing lead on four tracks. The sessions, held at Witch Queen Studios under the supervision of Susu and Ram, are followed by Chi and Toto's belated wedding in Tel Aviv.

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A crazed Carmen Serna (who tried to kill Bree Spellman and Donna Dante back in the year 2050) makes a murderous attack on the wedding party, but she's foiled by Bree's superior magic powers. The farewell album goes Platinum, a final New Archies single tops the charts, and Ramsay Khalid Sharma joins the band in time to play its farewell concert at Boston's Hatch Band Shell. (Garcy Briseño declines to appear, but sends best wishes. Frankie Fujiyama is also absent; he'll later convert to fundamentalist religion and turn against his former bandmates. ) Sabrina (now Witch Queen of the Universal Coven) is in attendance, and a reformed Carmen Serna takes part as special guest star. Ninety-seven-year-old Archie Andrews is also on hand to trade awesome guitar licks with Lana Suzuki!

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The New Archies narrative ends on a happily-ever-after note until the 2070s, when we learn that all the members of the original Archies as well as Toby Maxx have passed on. However, this time period is marked by a surge of public interest in both The Archies and their successors; a nostalgia craze, dubbed Archiemania by the entertainment media, cements their twin legends for all-time. Read the complete saga of Sabrina + The New Archies: A fantabulous fan art fantasy! Then read Cartoons + Castanets' ten-part sequel 2 "Mama Can't Buy You Love" . . . OEDIPUS RAM!