Next week, Archie Comics will release Fear the Funhouse #1. The latest entry in the publisher’s Month of Mayhem, and the first Archie Horror title for younger readers, includes a trio of terrifying tales featuring adolescent Archie and the Riverdale gang in slightly scary scenarios. Ahead of the issue’s release, Archie has released previews of two of the stories, “Snack Attack” by Micol Ostow and Lissette Carrera, and “Whatever Happened to Dilton?” by Magdalene Visaggio and Ryan Caskey.
Here’s how Archie describes Fear the Funhouse #1:
A night camping at the treehouse in the woods leads the pre-teen Archie and his friends to do what any kid their age would do in that scenario: tell scary stories! But each story grows creepier and creepier as the kids realize that maybe, just maybe, there is some truth to these tall tales in an anthology that’s equal parts Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps.
Along with “Snack Attack” and “Whatever Happened to Dilton?,” the new one-shot also includes “Suburban Legend” from writer Michael Northrop and artist Diana Camero. The full issue is colored by Matt Herms and lettered by Jack Morelli. The issue also includes an editorial section from Archie Senior Editorial Director Jamie Lee Rotante, spotlighting the development of and including concept sketches and character art from the special.
“We’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a kid-friendly horror anthology for years, so Fear the Funhouse is really a dream come true,” Rotante told The Beat. “We were inspired by animation and family-friendly Halloween classics of the past, blending things like Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, and even yearly events like The Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors. We wanted to show that Archie Horror offerings don’t only have to be for older audiences, that even kids can get in on the spooky fun.”
“Snack Attack” scribe Micol Ostow also told The Beat about jumping at the chance to be part of this special one-shot. “Our editor Jamie Rotante knows I’ll say yes whenever she asks,” she said, but Halloween is truly my favorite season so this was a special one, and it’s fun to be writing younger characters for a younger audience, too. One of the most thrilling things about working with a brand like Archie is how many iterations of the characters exist in the canon. There’s always a version out there asking for a new interpretation or format and it keeps the stories fresh for everyone.”
When it came to recruiting artists for Fear the Funhouse, Archie Art Director Vincent Lovallo had a unique challenge ahead of him. “We were looking at artwork that could ride that fine line of scary and edgy, but still acceptable for middle grade readers and adults alike,” he told The Beat. “Lissette Carrera, Diana Camero, and Ryan Caskey did exactly that, and brought the classic Riverdale gang to life, plus some retro characters for long-time fans. Throughout this anthology, you can look forward to fantastic faces, terrifying twists, and creepy characters guaranteed to give you goosebumps the whole way through! It’s everything I loved about horror as a kid, and then some!”
For Ostow, “Snack Attack” is a story with a personal connection to her family. “My story-within-the-story actually came from a Halloween season joke my father told us when we were kids,” she explained. “It’s ridiculously silly, but when delivered in the right tone, it actually can sound just creepy enough . . . until you get to the punchline. That’s why it hit the right note with me when I was kid, and why it hits the right note with middle-grade readers today. Generally, I think humor is a good way to diffuse anything that seems too intense or threatening, and it’s no different in horror.”
“Fear the Funhouse has three different stories with three very distinct styles,” Rotante added. “Micol and Lisette’s tale is classic campfire fun–it’s beautifully illustrated and feels like a familiar Halloween tradition! Michael and Diana’s urban legend is spooky in all the best ways—and it feels like it could lift right off the page and onto your TV screen! And Mags and Ryan’s story leaves the readers with one final, unsettling story: an Edward Gorey-inspired poetic tale that will send shivers down your spine. Every story is perfectly reminiscent of the different types of horror I’d read or watch as a child, and that’s something we really wanted to capture with this anthology. It should absolutely become a part of every kid’s (and family’s!) Halloween festivities!”
Check out the previews of both “Snack Attack” and “Whatever Happened to Dilton?”, as well as Sweeney Boo‘s variant cover and Rotante’s editorial spread, below. Fear the Funhouse is due out next Wednesday, October 19th.