The vibrant, cheerful and safe town of Riverdale is getting a ghoulish makeover.
In “Afterlife With Archie,” publisher Archie Comics is launching not just its first horror title, but also its first book carrying a rating for teens and older sold only in comic shops. The series written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla sees Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and others, including Sabrina the Teenage Witch, enveloped in a range of incantations, elder gods, zombies and the undead. “It’s a hardcore horror book,” says Aguirre-Sacasa, a Harvey Award-winning writer.“This is why I was meant to do comics.”
Those are evidenced in descriptions and images. In one panel Sabrina the Teenage Witch is clutching the fabled but dreaded “Necronomicon.” In another, showing the gang at a party, Archie is dressed as Freddy Krueger from the “Nightmare on Elm Street” films.
Francavilla included his own nods to horror classics, too, like the “’Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘Nosferatu’ posters on Jughead’s bedroom wall.”
But the book, despite its subject matter, he said, reflects the core characteristics of Archie and the other characters.
“Sabrina? She’s always messing up,” Aguirre–Sacasa said, though in this case, the mistake has grave consequences for Jughead.
“He’s always hungry,” Aguirre–Sacasa said, a normal trait that portends doom by the end of the first issue, setting the stage for the second issue and beyond.
Publisher and co–CEO Jon Goldwater says the title is not your “traditional Archie Comic” given the subject matter.
Instead, Goldwater called the series a fresh opportunity to place Archie’s characters in a setting where there is no easy, happy ending with everyone feeling just fine.
“I really view this as Archie’s ‘Walking Dead,’” he said, referring to a television show with a massive fan base.
The monthly series is drawn by Francavilla.
“We are taking a series of characters known to be light–hearted and young adult–oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” the artist said in an email.AP