Princess Betty is cursed by the evil Veronica to prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday and die in Dan Parent’s “Sleeping Betty,” the first of several enjoyable stories in Betty & Veronica Digest #207.
While Parent follows the Disney version of the fairy tale closely, right down to Betty bursting into song, he adds his own original, comic twists. Ginger, Nancy, and Ethel make an interesting trio of “magical sisters” and Marcy makes an intriguing raven, but it’s Veronica and the dragon Jughead who steal the story. Parent skillfully inserts bits based on classic characterization and relationships into the basic plot to both advance the story and add humor.
Parent’s art, ably inked by Jim Amash, is attractive and active. The characters leap about. The women’s dresses swirl. The page layouts are clear and easy to follow. However, Parent does some nifty things with the panels themselves. Some have a curl or wave to them, as if they’re scrolling across the page. When they’re introduced, the three magical sisters are surrounded by curlicue ribbons of various colors. When evil Veronica casts a spell, the panel border is jagged and sharp edged. The panel where Betty first appears as the grown up princess is framed with a flower decorated frame. My favorites though are the overlapping panels showing Veronica and dragon Jughead conferring. The switch from distance shot to close-up and the flip in the characters’ position is strong and dramatic.
Later in the issue, writer Kathleen Webb, penciler Stan Goldberg, and inker John Lowe give readers the charming “Better than Fiction.” Frustrated in her attempts to find a quiet place to finish reading her romance novel, Betty discovers not all romance is found between the covers of a book. Every reader has, at one time or another, dealt with what Betty goes through here–nosey comments, distracting nearby conversations, unwanted phone calls, the pet who suddenly needs attention. It’s to Webb’s great credit that she can take these mundane annoyances and make a cute story out of them. In another enjoyable bit, Betty also explains to the guys what makes a good story good. Goldberg changes angles and focuses on Betty’s vivid and varied expressions to create a sense of movement in the story.
Dan Parent’s “Stranded with Style” packs a lot into six pages without feeling crowded. Veronica is supposed to be helping Ginger get ready for a fashion show, but she’s more interested in watching a hit TV program. This story has a fun and logical twist that readers won’t see coming, though it’s entirely in character for the girls.
“Taken for a Ride” by writer Mike Pellowski finishes out the issue’s new stories. When Jughead suggests the gang go for a ride, everyone comes up with their own idea of the perfect ride. This serves as a solid introductory tale for new readers as each of the suggestions reflect the characters’ basic personalities. Betty is concerned about the environment. Reggie is all about competition and so on. Penciler Tim Kennedy and inker Ken Selig give the characters a more defined and stylized appearance here than elsewhere in the book. It looks like the fingers have been cut out and laid over top a background like in basic cel animation. It’s really sharp looking.
Rounding out the issue is a lovely fairy tale fashion spread, a reader designed fashion page, Little Sabrina and Josie and the Pussycat reprints, and a couple reprints of recent stories featuring Ethel and Betty and Veronica.
Add these all together and you have an entertaining package for your favorite tween reader.