Talking ‘Betty: The Final Girl’ With Writer Micol Ostow

by Rachel Bellwoar

There’s only one Riverdale resident who could ever live-up to the superlative “most likely to survive a horror movie.” That’s why instead of coupling up this Valentine’s Day, Archie Comics is singling out with Betty: The Final Girl, an anthology issue that sticks Betty on babysitting duty. Writer, Micol Ostow, and artist, Laura Braga, are responsible for the wraparound story, as well as “Rosemary’s Babysitter,” and it was a thrill to talk horror and Grady Hendrix with Ostow over email.

Cover Artist: Laura Braga

Rachel Bellwoar: Valentine’s Day isn’t always associated with horror. Did you know, while writing, that that’s when the issue would be released?

Micol Ostow: I didn’t! But to be fair, in my world, any holiday is a good time for horror. I’m the person who always wants the rom-com to spontaneously turn dark, so this is kind of perfect for me.

RB: Usually there can only be one final girl, but Betty: The Final Girl has at least three. Were there any challenges to figuring out how to make a final girl theme work for an anthology format, and did you model Betty after any particular final girls?

MO: Of course, it’s right there in the title: final girl, singular, right? But if we’re going out on a limb and letting the spooky story season extend from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, why can’t we also be a little experimental with the concept of the one and only final girl? That’s one of the best things about the horror genre — and Archie Comics, too! — its playfulness and willingness to roll with the times.

That said, I have to confess it wasn’t wholly my own original idea. I’ve already copped to being inspired by Grady Hendrix’s Final Girl Support Group, which I was reading when I had the idea to make Betty “the” final girl. Jamie Rotante, my editor, was reading the same book and was in. Baked into the concept was the idea that Betty would travel through a variety of final girl tropes which actually lent itself very neatly to the anthology structure. And since we already had a few of these anthologies under our belt, the logistics of making it happen were fairly simple. Once I had the general pitch for the premise of my wraparound and my story, we just waited to see what the final stories would be so that I could tweak the interstitial pieces to link it all together. As usual, everyone involved was amazing, because who in the world would be drawn to write, illustrate, or otherwise create horror stories about Betty Cooper for a living and not be a delightful human being?!

RB: In addition to writing the wraparound story, you also wrote one of the stories in the anthology. Is there anything you can tell us about the plot and working with artist, Laura Braga?

MO: I had very little one-on-one interaction with Laura, but I was absolutely thrilled when I learned she’d be illustrating my story because I’m a HUGE fan! Her style is so distinct and sophisticated. I discovered her through Blossoms 666 and fell hard so this is really just a dream come true, which I haven’t even told her, because every time I begin to mention it in an email it devolves into something very Swimfan-y and embarrassing and I delete it and run away. But I guess the truth is out now! I love you, Laura!

As for the plot of my story, it’s a very obvious (IMO) riff on When A Stranger Calls, which is one of my favorite old-school urban-legend-y horror stories and also one of the first slasher movies I watched with my ten year old daughter, who was the one who urged me to read Final Girls while we were on vacation. Afterward, she told me she wanted to watch a slasher. The 2006 remake is rated PG-13 and we watched it together on the plane ride home. Apples, trees, yadda yadda…
(BTW, she liked the movie! I hope she likes our comic!)

RB: What made you decide on Veronica’s mountaintop chalet to be the setting for this story?

MO: Excellent question.

In lieu of an equally excellent answer, I’ll say I was probably in a Shining sort of mood (usually am). Also, they needed to be someplace where they’d be cut off from help on most levels. And it had to be luxe. All of which leads you back to Ronnie’s mountain hideaway if you’re choosing the Occam’s Razor option. But given that I didn’t know at the time it was a Valentine’s release, there wasn’t any narrative drive behind that choice versus, say, Veronica’s beach compound.

RB: “Rosemary’s Babysitter,” sounds like a great name for a sitcom (young girl accepts a babysitting gig only to realize the child is Satan’s baby). Where did the idea for that title come from?

MO: THANK YOU for validating the title! It was not the original title for this story, which I think I’d pitched as “When A Stranger Texts,” and then realized in the writing that there was nothing specifically text-based about the plot at all. Womp-womp. About a million years ago I had the idea for a Grady Hendrix-style satire novel of the same name, sort of along the lines of the sitcom you describe. But all I ever had was a cute title, and nothing to attach it to. Until it occurred to me that it would easily fit the current project if I changed the name of Betty’s babysitting charge. All’s well that ends well!

RB: If you could program a double feature around the theme of final girls, which two horror films would you choose?

MO: That is a very mean question! Truly, the possibilities are endless. But I think a good starter might be Halloween/A Nightmare on Elm StreetMy reasoning being Halloween is Halloween, and Elm is one of my fave of the franchises.

Honestly — there are so many choices, and so many different ways to go thematically, though. Halloween/Scream would be a good double header if you were doing a retrospective. What would the post-post-millennial update be? MidsommarYou guys tell me! Let’s have a viewing party!

RB: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Micol!

Betty: The Final Girl goes on sale February 15th from Archie Comics, with colors by Matt Herms and letters by Jack Morelli.

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