Interview: Roger Langridge on Dynamite’s Betty Boop

Betty Boop #1 cover by Howard Chaykin

Betty Boop #1 cover by Howard Chaykin

Roger Langridge is the creator of Fred the Clown, Snarked!, Abigail and the Snowman, and more. He’s also worked on Popeye, The Muppet Show, Thor: The Mighty Avenger, and others. Now, he turns his attention to Dynamite’s Betty Boop with artist Gisele Lagace! Langridge recently told Westield’s Roger Ash what’s on the way in this upcoming series.

Westfield: Are you a fan of Betty Boop?

Roger Langridge: Betty Boop has been a part of my life since I was a very small child. I love the old Fleischer cartoons. I remember seeing one of the classic Betty Boop shorts, Snow White, on TV when I was a kid. It was really bizarre – and, for that reason, intriguing. I saw a few here and there over the next few years – occasionally on TV, or at film festivals – and I was increasingly fascinated by the world they evoked. It was definitely not cute, or safe; much more a fun-house mirror version of the adult world, with jazz music, references to prohibition-era booze, and an undercurrent of sexuality. As an adult I made comics in which I tried to evoke that Fleischer world – one story in particular, “Scared Witless”, featuring my Fred the Clown character, was an out-and-out tribute to the Fleischers. So, yeah – lifelong fan.

Betty Boop #1 cover by Roger Langridge

Betty Boop #1 cover by Roger Langridge

Westfield: Do you try to retain the feel of the cartoons in the comic?

Langridge: I sure do. I’ve peppered the script liberally with musical numbers, as the cartoons were wont to do, and I’ve tried to evoke the Fleischer style whenever possible with a lowlife, nightclub atmosphere and all-singing, all-dancing skeletons and ghosts and what-have-you. One of the main settings for our stories is “The Oop-A-Doop Club”, a nightclub where Betty works, and I’ve dragged her and the rest of the cast into that seedy underworld from the cartoons as often as possible. It’s an intrinsic part of the Betty Boop brand as far as I’m concerned.

Betty Boop #1 cover by J. Bone

Betty Boop #1 cover by J. Bone

Westfield: Will Betty’s supporting cast be appearing in the comic?

Langridge: As far as we’re able to include them, yes. There are rights issues to work around, so Cab Calloway doesn’t appear directly, but there’s a character called “Scat Skellington” who’s near enough if you squint at him right. And Bimbo, Koko the Clown, Sally Swing, Pudgy and Grampy are all present and correct.

Westfield: What can readers look forward to in the book?

Langridge: In the spirit of the creepy weirdness of the original cartoons, we’re doing a bunch of ghost stories. Some mischievous spirits want to take over Grampy and Betty’s home to turn it into a seedy speakeasy, and it’s up to Betty and her friends to stop them. Along the way we get musical numbers, goofy gags and all the stuff you’d expect from a Fleischer cartoon.

Betty Boop #1 cover by Gisele Lagace

Betty Boop #1 cover by Gisele Lagace

Westfield: What can you tell us about your collaboration with artist Gisele Lagace?

Langridge: It’s been great! Gisele is thoroughly professional and very talented, and I feel she’s brought a necessary female perspective to Betty. I was initially a bit concerned about perpetuating the archaic “male sexual fantasy” elements of Betty Boop, but I feel Gisele’s involvement has helped with that side of things a lot. Her own comics are pretty sexy, but from a female perspective, so that’s pretty much exactly what was required. She’s researched the old Betty Boop cartoons and strips thoroughly, so Betty’s longtime fans should be very happy.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

Langridge: Just that it’s been a ton of fun to visit the Fleischer universe, and I very much hope it won’t be the last time!


Betty Boop #1


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