Archie Comics has exploded onto the mainstage of the comics world in the last few years, just as many thought they were a relic of the golden age. Series like Life With Archie and the enormously popular Afterlife with Archie, along with the introduction of the openly gay character Kevin Keller a few years prior, introduced these characters to a new generation in a surprisingly mature and modern way. At Comic Con today in a packed room full of fans, we got a glimpse at what is coming up for the progressive company and it’s growing band of creators.
Perhaps the biggest news to come out of the panel is the announcement that the long talked about Riverdale TV series will not be on Fox, but will premiere on CW. This came out of working through Greg Berlanti, who will be producing the show. This begs the question about the tone of the show, which previously sounded a bit like Twin Peaks in its adult and surreal nature, but now is being compared more to Glee. “It has a lot of music in it,” said Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie’s Chief Creative Officer. They also mentioned that Josie and the Pussycats will play a big role, as well as Kevin Keller. Veronica Fish did some excellent promo art for the show, and will hopefully be working on a high profile comic soon, the publishers teased.
Four of the main creators involved in the New Riverdale group of books were onstage in Mark Waid (Archie), Chip Zdarsky (Jughead), Dan Parent (Kevin Keller) and Adam Hughes (Betty and Veronica). Waid said of the whole crew, “No one’s setting an iron-clad continuity that we have to fall into, we’re just enjoying what we’re all doing,” and that they are all sort of riffing on each other to create this new Archie universe. The first issue has been getting good reviews all around, and Waid teased that although Veronica shows up a little in issue two, but will be “like a wrecking ball” in issue three. He also noted that he felt like it was important to put Betty in that awkward phase that many girls go through when they transition from being “one of the boys” to being looked at differently by the men in her life–Fiona Staples, who is drawing the book, provided a lot of input on that part of the story.
Zdarsky talked about how he got involved with the forthcoming Jughead book that he is writing, saying he asked to do a variant for Archie #1 and then really wanted to get involved with New Riverdale: “Do you need someone to staple the comics?” he jokingly asked. Apparently, he had done an art project in school that involved building a 3D Archie panel around his head, with himself playing the role of Jughead, so his fandom of the character is nothing new. Zdarsky’s take on the iconic burger-eater is that “he’s a bit like me: he’s smarter than everyone in the room, but doesn’t feel like he has to show it.” Jon Goldwater, CEO and Publisher of Archie Comics, said that the book, which comes out on October 8th, is “really, really funny.” The book sounds like it will be the most irreverent of the group, with Jughead using his daydreaming imagination to figure things out, which involves the Superteens and more fantastical elements.
Hughes’ take on Betty and Veronica is the least developed so far, as he has only just begun to work on it. “Betty and Veronica are two characters I never thought I’d be allowed to work on,” Hughes said. The book will aim to be “a laugh riot,” and Hughes says he’s thrilled to be able to write and draw these iconic characters. Dan Parent showed some early pages from the new Life with Kevin Keller series as well, revealing that he will be living on his own and a little older now, which Parent notes means “the sky’s the limit” for the character.
Aguirre-Sacasa loosely announced a new title in the horror line that Francesco Francavilla will in some way be a part of that “may or may not” be called Vampironica. which included teasing a beautiful cover by Francavilla featuring a Vampirella-looking Veronica in a graveyard within a silhouette of Jughead. As if that wasn’t exciting enough for Archie Horror fans, the audience was treated to a preview of Afterlife with Archie #9, which focuses on Reggie and the guilt he feels for his part in causing the zombie apocalypse. For at least one page of the issue, Francavilla and Aguirre-Sacasa take a Goofus and Galant approach in an Archie and Reggie sequence. There were strong hints that something bad will happen to Reggie when the issue releases in a month or so.
Coming up for the Afterlife with Archie series in #10-12 involve the whole Riverdale gang stumbling onto a farm that seems untouched by the apocalypse. Unfortunately, it may not be the paradise it seems as the gang starts to notice that no one here is over 18–and Betty’s 18th birthday is coming up soon. Said by Aguirre-Sacasa of working with Francavilla: “It’s an auteur book, and the auteur is Francesco.”
In other news for the horror line, Aguirre-Sacasa promises that issue #4 of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is “the creepiest book we’ve ever done.” That issue involves the Riverdale gang arriving in Greendale to assist in the search for Sabrina’s missing boyfriend, Harvey. This first arc ends with issue five, while six will be a one-shot story that explores Salem the cat’s medieval origins, and seven starting the Witch War arc in which the witches of Greendale and Riverdale square off.
In the longstanding tradition of ridiculous crossovers, the publishers talked a bit about the newest to join the ranks in Archie vs. Sharknado, which comes out in time for Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No. Anthony C. Ferrante, director of all three Sharknado movies, wrote the one-shot comic, and talked about how fun it was to put together. “I fell in love with some of the characters, so I couldn’t kill them off!” he noted.
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