Writer: Dan Parent
Pencils: Dan Parent
Inking: Jon D’Agostino
Lettering: Bill Yoshida
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Original Publication: Cheryl Blossom, No. 20
Cover Date: March, 1999
Length: 11 pages
Although I have the original issue, I’m reviewing this story from the digital edition.
This issue was my first issue of Cheryl Blossom. The Waldenbooks at the local mall didn’t carry comics, so the only Archies in my area were the digests at the local supermarkets. Not that I was even buying those at the time. My mom had gotten me two digests (I reviewed the new lead story in the first one) at the supermarket, and later (in 1993) my sister got me a one-year subscription to the floppy Archie title. And that was basically it for me.
Until December of 1998. My sister and her oldest daughter had come down from Illinois to visit for Christmas and New Year’s, and my sister had gotten herself, her daughter, and me tickets to see the Backstreet Boys at the Orlando Arena for their final concert of their Backstreet’s Back Tour on December 31, 1998. Why she thought I’d be interested in the Backstreet Boys, I have no idea, but maybe it was just to get me and my mom out of the house and give me a concert experience.
Anyway, the four of us went to Orlando and checked into a Holiday Inn. I don’t remember the dates that we checked in and out, but I doubt we stayed more than one night (unless my sister really wanted to explore the area and do a lot of shopping).
Here I am, before the concert, trying to get to the Minus World in Super Mario Bros., not realizing it had been removed from the Super Mario All-Stars version of the game.
The concert was okay. The band was late, so that led to my sister trying to get a cheer of “Bullshit Boys!” going. When we were informed that the concert would be taped (and apparently also a pay-per-view event), I made an idiot of myself and acted like a screaming uber-fan to get on camera and be immortalized on home video, which confused my niece at the time. She later informed me that they didn’t point the cameras at our section at all. The band had to leave a while before midnight to get somewhere for a party, so a video of a clock displaying “Backstreet Boys Time” was shown. When it reached midnight, the band performed a cover of Prince’s “1999”. We didn’t get back to the hotel in time to see the ball drop and instead heard about the arrival of the new year on the car radio.
Anyway, at some point when we were in Orlando, we went shopping, and I entered a bookstore (probably a Waldenbooks), which had a spinning rack. I found some Archie Comics. I got this issue as well as whatever issues of the other female titles were on the rack at the time. I don’t know if this was on December 31, 1998, or January 1, 1999, but those were Thursday/Friday, and new comics are put out in bookstores on Tuesdays, so this issue cover-dated March was definitely out by late December of 1998.
Keep in mind that, until this point, I had read only one story with Cheryl in it, and it had given me a positive impression of her, so I was happy to be able to read more of her stories. Also, I had just graduated from community college and would be starting university in January, which meant driving to a big city…with big bookstores…with comic books, so I was able to buy the rest of the issues as they came out, sticking with Cheryl’s series until the very end.
This issue is also significant in another way: it’s Dan Parent’s final issue, but I’ll save discussion of that for when I review his final story.
Anyway, let’s get into it:
At the Fresh office, Cheryl is admiring the gowns worn by three models. The gowns were designed by Lynn Acres of Winfield, Texas; Dawn Emch of Rye, New York; and Joan Farley of Tucson, Arizona. A woman says they’re going to be fabulous in the next issue of Fresh.
Another woman thanks Cheryl for her help in designing them. In exchange, Cheryl gets to try on a few gowns. One is a bit tight, so Cheryl reminds them that these gowns should be for all girls and all sizes. Cheryl takes some designs home to see if she can “perk them up”.
Later, Cheryl has been working at her desk until late and is “all designed out”. She finds the work fun, though. She feels like “Cinderella designing gowns for the ball”. I didn’t know Cinderella was a designer. Anyway, Cheryl falls asleep at her desk and…has a dream. Great.
In her dream, Cheryl is a Cinderella-like character named Cinderblossom, Bunny/Priscilla is her stepmother, and Betty and Veronica are her “evil, much less attractive stepsisters”. Cinderblossom has to work on their dresses for the royal bash on Saturday.
Betty and Ronnie are unappreciative, hating their dresses and making demands. Cinderblossom cries and says she’ll be too busy working on these dresses to make her own. That’s the idea.
On Saturday, their dresses are done. They bought Cinderblossom a “garish” dress for $3.99. Despite its ugliness, Cinderblossom decides to wear it.
It’s as stiff as a board, though, because they starched it for her. After they leave, Cinderblossom breaks down in tears. Dan Parent takes a moment to “remind” readers that this is just a dream, and Cheryl isn’t “too kind”. Her fairy godmother poofs in, and it’s Ethel. Cinderblossom wishes to go to the ball, but the bitches took “the good car”.
All that Cinderblossom has is a piece-of-shit car. Her fairy godmother turns it into sports car and a house plant into a driver (Moose). She also gives Cinderblossom a dress, but it’s “too frilly”. She changes it, but it’s “boring”. Cinderblossom asks for “something classic, yet contemporary”. Her fairy godmother is getting irritated.
The latest gown (designed by Lea Arini of Brooklyn, New York) is “perfect”. The fairy godmother reminds Cinderblossom that Prince Archie is looking for a bride, something that hasn’t been mentioned up to this point. Literally. It’s news to Cinderblossom. Betty and Veronica kept that from her, which pisses her off. She’s determined to come out ahead. After she and the driver get in the sports car, the fairy godmother reminds her that everything changes back at midnight.
At the bash, Ronnie and Betty are fighting over Prince Archie, and he complains to King Jughead that they’re crazy. King Jughead had warned him that “girls are nothing but trouble”. Prince Archie gets a boner for Cinderblossom. Ronnie is surprised and angry to see her. Prince Archie asks Cinderblossom for a dance and pretty much proposes to her. The two dance the night away, smitten with each other. Betty and Ronnie just fill up on punch.
At 11:59 PM, Prince Archie officially proposes to Cinderblossom. But then the clock strike midnight, and Cinderblossom runs off. Her dress changes back to her old clothes, her driver changes back into a house plant, and her sports car changes back into her old jalopy. Prince Archie yells he doesn’t even know her name, despite the fact that Ronnie had answered his question when he had first spotted Cinderblossom. Prince Archie finds the “designer clog” that she had left behind and vows to try it on everybody in town to find her. Um, why not just the redheads? Surely, his memory isn’t that bad. That’s something that never made sense about the original fairytale. And why did the glass slipper remain unchanged?
The next day, Cinderblossom’s stepmother sends her upstairs to design their new spring wardrobe and not come down until she’s finished. This is to keep her busy, so she doesn’t spot Prince Archie fitting them with the designer clog. He arrives. The clog doesn’t fit Betty or Ronnie. Ronnie even wants to try cutting her foot with a knife, a gruesome aspect of the fairy tale that Disney cut out. Cinderblossom comes downstairs, having found out about the fitting, because the prince posted about it on the Internet. Her stepmother angrily asks why they left the computer up there. The clog fits Cinderblossom. Prince Archie proposes to her, and she accepts.
Cinderblossom has been designing her wedding dress, so they seemingly get married on the spot, much to Betty and Ronnie’s sadness.
Cheryl’s alarm clock goes off at 7:00 AM, and she wakes up just as the sun is rising. She loves her dream and decides to get these fashion designs back to Fresh. She suddenly has a “good idea”. I wanna point out that Cheryl’s eyes seem to be a dark blue in this panel.
At the Fresh office, Cheryl posts a Cinderella fashion spread on the board, and the woman from earlier calls it “ingenious”. With a wink, Cheryl says it’s something that she “dreamed up”. What’s odd is Cheryl colored Cinderella’s hair blonde, making her look more like Betty than Cheryl.
This story was okay, I guess, but I’m generally not fond of fairy tale parodies or dream stories, because they don’t “count”. In this case, though, the dream did provide inspiration for Cheryl, so…yay?
In the middle of the story is a page of Cheryl fan art (with entries from Indi Wilson of Chicago, Illinois; Gigi Rosen of Poughkeepsie, New York; and Molly Peterson of Fredricksburg, Virginia).
After the story is a 1-page Cheryl illustration titled “Cheryl’s Holiday Fashions……from all Her Readers!” (with entries from Alex Grey of Houston, Texas; Megan Allard of Fillstown, Texas; and Jane Pratt of New York, New York).