It’s an age old question… or, at least, a 70-year-old question:Betty or Veronica?
The two female points of the love triangle at the very center of publisher Archie Comics have always formed a sort of either/or dichotomy for those male readers envious of Archie Andrews’ predicament, being seemingly forced to choose between two ideal girlfriends of opposite natures. When those male readers ask themselves, or one another, “Betty or Veronica?” they’re asking about what type of girl they prefer: the debutante or the girl next door? The cunning, sophisticated, fickle, wealthy heiress for whom everything comes easy, or the big-hearted, book-smart, loyal, hard-working young woman? Sugar or spice? Good girl or bad girl? Or perhaps they’re just asking, more simply — blonde or brunette?
There’s a somewhat startling 1978 Betty and Veronica story by Dan DeCarlo, the cartoonist who more than any other was responsible for defining the characters’ appearances and personalities, which attempted to make the point that there really is no choice at all: Betty and Veronica aren’t two different girls as much as they are two halves of the same girl. The story, entitled “Split Personality,” is one of the seven tales editors Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe chose for The Art of Betty and Veronica, a new hardcover book celebrating the high school dream girls and the men whose designs and lines made them, to some, the idyllic girlfriends decade after decade.