From 2014’s World of Archie Digest #43
Archie Comics has traditionally struggled more than other comics at staying relevant, modern and current. As opposed to other comics which can update their settings within their storylines, there are certain elements of Archie which remain tied to the past. For instance, hanging around at the corner diner or the jalopy which Archie is often seen to be driving. In recent years the publisher has tried to break from this past by incorporating in a lot of more current events, be that a meeting with Glee, Vampirella themed crossovers, or introducing a more diverse group of supporting characters than is common in most comic book series. In so doing the publisher has been successful at turning itself into something different from its previous incarnation. The older stories dealt with Archie getting into trouble, Jughead eating burger, Reggie flirting with Midge and the girls flirting with Archie, but newer issues have dealt with more relevant topics especially for their fanbase and targeted demographics such as interracial relationships, rights for disabled people and ethics in sports.
From World of Archie Double Digest #32
One key mechanic which has remained throughout all series is the topical subjects of the series and their covers, especially as it relates to the seasons. So the gang goes to the beach in summer issues and goes skiing or has snowball fights in winter issues. While there has been a topical focus throughout the course of the comics, one topic has generally been missing, and that is Halloween. Archie comics fluctuates between how many series it publishes focused on Riverdale, but it is usually between 6 and 8 regular series with other specials thrown in. From among the main series though since 2011, there has been a Halloween themed issue at least once a year. Although Archie does rely on the past for some stereotypical inspiration at most times, the trend here is actually kind of weird. Over the course of these five covers, Betty and Veronica are dressed as either witches or as the Bride of Frankenstein in every case. Witches are even more preferred showing up in six out of nine of the character appearance (both Betty and Veronica don’t always appear). Although the cases are equally limited for the male characters they at least get to have some variety as zombies, firefighters, vampires, mummies, and Frankenstein.
From Betty and Veronica Double Digest #195
In looking at these covers though, it is not that there is one cover artist that really likes witches. Dan Parent is involved with a few of them, but it would seem that even aside from that there is a tendency to resort to the cliché in this specific case, even when the two main characters have been defined as much more modern and independent in recent years. Perhaps though it is just easiest for the publisher this way. Archie struggles for its market share as much as the other smaller companies, and though its demographic is different, it is likely worth not veering too far off of the stereotype when it comes to Halloween. After all, the girls dressed as a witch is an easy visual reference, but them dressed as something else might only confuse and lose the point of the Halloween theme anyway. Perhaps though maybe the artists will realize this odd trend and maybe break the girls into something else next year. A skeleton? A cat? Alice in Wonderland? Or maybe even a firefighter?