Interviews, panel appearances, fan mail -- artists and writers understandably get much of the focus when we talk about professionals in the American comics industry. But beyond the front lines there's a whole host of people working hard to keep the business running: accountants, lawyers, publicists, librarians, production staff and many others. Most of these people don't have the opportunity to talk about their work with the people who read the comics they help put in their hands, but the work they do is important -- often integral -- to this industry. Whether it's making sure creators get paid, designing logos, or even planning a convention, these people affect how the whole package of our industry comes together.
In the first of what we've planned as a series of spotlights on the behind-the-scenes comics pros, we're speaking with Alex Segura, Archie Comics' Senior Vice President - Publicity and Marketing. Segura started his career in comics as a journalist but has spent nearly a decade doing publicity at DC Comics and Archie, the latter of which has been especially praised by this site and others for revitalizing its brand. One of the architects of the new Archie Comics, Segura sat down with us to talk about how he ended up as a publicist and what exactly that job entails.
Back when it first started up, I wrote a review of Archie's Mega Man comic where I called it "the smartest superhero comic on the stands," mostly because of the way that it took on some pretty serious ideas without detracting from the accessible, all-ages adventure that made it such a fun read. That bit in the first arc where Mega Man starts to withdraw from his family, becoming cold and, well, robotic because of the psychological toll of destroying other robots like himself is still one of my favorite scenes in comics from the past few years.
Forty issues later, I can still stand by that statement. Mega Man hasn't just continued building one of the most enjoyably action-packed stories around the bare-bones plot of "go right, shoot robots" that it got from the video games, it's also having conversations about ethics, forgiveness and what it means to love someone that nobody else in comics is coming close to. And it's great.
Over the past few years, Archie Comics has taken a lot of inspiration from the world of superheroes. We've seen inter-company crossovers, high-profile creators, the launch of a Mature Readers line and a couple of superhero imprints, and now, they're embracing the superhero comic's most time-honored tradition: For the first time since 1942, the Archie title is getting relaunched with a new #1.
That's kind of a big deal in and of itself -- with 661 issues as of this December, I'm pretty sure that Archie is currently the longest-running monthly comic on the stands that has never been rebooted or renumbered -- but the bigger news comes from the announcement of the new creative team handling Archie's biggest new direction yet: Mark Waid and Fiona Staples.
There are a lot of reasons to love what Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla are doing on Afterlife With Archie. There's the genuinely scary, atmospheric horror, the compelling character work that plays off the idea of horror movie archetypes, and the dark comedy that's inherent in taking America's favorite squeaky-clean teens and dropping them into an exceptionally violent and disturbing apocalypse. As for me, though, I'm mainly just in it for the deep-cut references to Archie's past.
The latest issue delivered on all four fronts, as the gang departs Riverdale in an efort to escape the massive zombie horde led by Jughead -- a phrase that is truly a delight to type -- but there's also something else about it: It has a strong late contender for the best line of dialogue of 2014.
Archie and the gang have been facing quite a bit of adversity lately. They've taken on the forces of the undead in Afterlife With Archie, covens in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and, perhaps most fearsomely of all, the creeping ennui of adulthood in Life With Archie.
In the center of this maelstrom is Dan Parent, longtime Archie writer and artist. It’s tempting to say that he is the placid, controversy-free sun around which the Archie system orbits, but that isn't exactly accurate — Kevin Keller, Archie’s first gay character, is his creation. In fact, Parent merges the opposing forces of change and status quo at work within the publisher into a harmonious whole. ComicsAlliance sat down with Parent at New York Comic Con to discuss the legacy he inherited, the present he’s shaped, and the future to come.
Archie Comics' rebirth in recent years as a prominent publisher of horror comics was certainly unexpected, but it's produced some really great stuff, like the brutally horrific zombie comic Afterlife With Archie, and the new, more atmospheric horror of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And now, it's responsible for fan-films.
Archie Comics is on the move. Afterlife with Archie, the horror take on the Riverdale gang, garners acclaim wherever it goes -- after an initial “wait, the comics they sell at Stop N’ Shop?” double take, of course. Its sister book, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, promises to take the teen witch to the heights of 1960s-style psychological horror. Lena Dunham, fresh off her book tour, will pen a series for Archie in 2015. The publisher's new imprint, Dark Circle, will revive classic superheroes. Even dear old Riverdale is getting a shakeup, from Archie’s recent death in the Life With Archie series to a recently announced TV show.
Though the gang’s teen shenanigans endure in every checkout line, their universe stretches far beyond the confines of Pep and Pals n’ Gals. As the publisher’s future grows ever more crowded with plans and announcements, ComicsAlliance sat down with CEO Jon Goldwater and chief creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to discuss how they plan to honor their past while building a bold new future.
Pretty soon we'll be surprised to find out that TV shows that aren't based on comics are being developed.
The newest comics-based show coming to the airwaves is Riverdale, an Archie Comics series that has been picked up by Fox. Arrow and The Flash producer Greg Berlanti's production studio will produce the show, and the pilot will be written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Archie Comics' chief creative officer and writer of Afterlife with Archie. According to an Archie Comics press release, the show will be more like Twin Peaks than Leave it to Beaver.
It was just the other day that I was writing about how I never really understood why comics were always crossing over with the Predator, but today, I have officially been convinced that it's all worth it. Archie Comics and Dark Horse have announced Archie Meets Predator, coming next spring from writer Alex De Campi and artist Fernando Ruiz.
The Predator, an alien from space who comes to Earth in order to hunt the deadliest and most skilled humans alive, will join The Punisher, KISS and the cast of Glee in the illustrious and growing roster of unlikely Archie crossovers, and while Frank Castle took a few shots at our redheaded hero, it seems like the Predator is the one most bent on doing violence to our Riverdale pals.
I'm not saying that it's easy to succeed with an oddball idea in the world of comics, but I have to imagine that it's a heck of a lot harder to do it twice in a row with very similar ideas -- which is exactly what Archie Comcis and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa are trying to do in the pages of this week's Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina #1. A year after Aguirre-Sacasa teamed up with artist Francesco Francavilla and found critical and commercial success with Afterlife With Archie, where the familiar teenagers of Riverdale found themselves contending with the zombie apocalypse, he's joining artist Robert Hack to try to strike gold a second time -- not with a spinoff of Afterlife, but by expanding the horror line with an entirely new title, taking the same characters and twisting them around again.
The result is a comic that dives headling into a world of horror, witchcraft and high school drama, and while it might not have the immediate eyebrow-raising hook of seeing Archie beat his zombified father to death with a baseball bat, it's definitely a pretty amazing comic that's hitting at exactly the right time.
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