By Adam Karenina Sherif

Alongside the announcement that Kiernan Shipka (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) will be appearing in the upcoming sixth season of Riverdale, Archie Comics’ virtual panel detailed the publisher’s plans to further capitalize on the buzz their live-action adaptation shows have been generating as well as their wider Winter / Spring publishing slate.

After Riverdale Season 5’s seven-year time jump, Season 6 will kick off with a special five-part event, beginning Tuesday November 16th.

Archie Comics Director of Publicity & Social Media Ron Cacace, who hosted the panel, shared info on the return of the long-hiatused Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book series by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack. Issue #9 will hit stores on October 13th. Outlining where the book picks up in its narrative, Hack said “it’s a bit like describing a Robitussin dream”. With the book having been on pause for long enough for the live action adaptation to develop and even conclude, it’ll be interesting to see whether the book will now read like a reverse adaptation or if it’ll break new ground and head in other directions.

Also highlit was The Occult World of Sabrina by Aguirre-Sacasa and Audrey Mok, a comic series that will continue directly from the continuity of the Netflix show. After news of its untimely cancellation last year, it’s great that the show’s continuity and characters will be able to finish out their stories as originally intended, albeit in another medium! The Occult World of Sabrina is scheduled for serialized publication in 2022.

The panel featured the trailer for the upcoming Archive WEBTOON series Big Ethel Energy which centers the character of Ethel Muggs and takes place with the character now in her twenties. She returns to Riverdale as a Columbia graduate and New York City journalist, surprising the old cast with her confidence. Series co-producer and WEBTOON Entertainment Associate Producer Sarah Wang described the series as being “about closure, about confronting your past” with Ethel re-navigating and re-defining her relationships with the usual Archie gang. Cacace referred to the series as the “natural evolution of the storytelling and the characters to have them in this format”, referring to WEBTOON’s digital, vertical-scrolling platform and possibly hinting at the potential for future Archie x WEBTOON collabs. Big Ethel Energy is free to read, with new episodes every Tuesday.

Cacace’s own popular webcomic series with artist Vincent Lovallo will be getting its own print collection with Bite Sized Archie vol. 1 due for Spring 2022.

Horror anthology one-shot Chilling Adventures in Sorcery reprises a classic Archie title from decades past with a collection of spooky stories that incorporate classic Archie characters. Archie Senior Director of Editorial Jamie L. Rotante described the one-shot as “creepy, unsettling stories with characters you know and love” with each story having a distinct aesthetic and horror sub-genre that it’s running with. The anthology will be out in November and features Amy Chu, Eliot Rahal, Evan Stanley, Derek Charm, Matt Herms, Vincenzo Federici, Pat Kennedy, and Tim Kennedy with covers by Julius Ohta and Francesco Francavilla.

From Halloween to Christmas, Cacace and Rotante introduced Archie’s Holiday Magic Special, a festive, wintry anthology one-shot due out early December. Because “Riverdale is for everyone”, as Rotante thoughtfully put it, the book will depict Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, in addition to Christmas. The creative teams include Micol Ostow, Michael Northrop, J. Torres, Arielle Jovellianos and Dan Schoening, with covers by Gretel Lusky and Gary Erskine.

Rotante also teased an upcoming Valentine’s Day anthology, with details TBA. “People like shipping characters, and I think they’ll enjoy this”, she said.

The classic Archie digest line will also have seasonal counterparts with Betty & Veronica Friends Forever: Halloween Spooktacular and Archie & Friends: Christmas Calamity. These digest comics have typically been reprints but are now including all-new lead stories – including work from long-time Archie writer / artist Dan Parent. Additionally, the Archie Milestones digest series is returning with decade-specific collections. The upcoming digest #13 is titled Best of the 1960s.

Two graphic novel collections of classic Archie material were also mentioned. 80 Years, 80 Stories selects a single story from each year of Archie Comics’ publication (and different ones than those included in the 75th anniversary set) as well as historical detail on creative and publishing teams. 80 Years of Christmas mirrors the format, with festive theme.

Dan Parent discussed the Kevin Keller Celebration Omnibus, a 700+ page project collecting every Kevin Keller story since the character’s first appearance in 2010. The project is currently up on Kickstarter (successfully funded!). The collection will include work from guest artists including J. Bone and Sina Grace with more to be announced. One of the stretch goals is a possible new Kevin story. For more on this project, click thru to this recent interview Dan Parent gave here on The Beat.

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