Duane Swierczynski is the man who made Archie Comics cuss.
When the company relaunches its superhero line as Dark Circle, the flagship title will be The Black Hood, in which Swierczynski and artist Michael Gaydos, co-creator of Alias, reinvent the character in an incredibly violent mature readers crime story focused on Greg Hettinger, a cop who gets injured in the line of duty while taking down a vigilante, and takes on the identity of the Black Hood in order to deal with the pain, frustration and rage that wells up as a result of his accident.
It's a brutal story that fits right in with Swierczynski's other work on books like Judge Dredd and Punisher, and as a result, it's also a pretty big departure from Archie's usual offerings, even in a time when the company is reinventing itself with critically acclaimed horror comics and a push for a more realistic Riverdale. To find out more, I spoke to Swierczynski to talk about the origins of the Black Hood as a hero for the bad side of Philadelphia, how far Hettinger has to fall, and, maybe most importantly, Swierczynski's own place in history as the first writer to work the F-bomb into an Archie book.
In a time that's seeing Archie take huge steps forward in expanding its line into horror titles and more serious takes on everyone's favorite small-town teens, the publisher seems to be putting as much as it can into a new line: Dark Circle.
The line was announced last year, anchored by Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos's mature-readers take on The Black Hood, Adam Christopher, Chuck Wendig and Wilfredo Torres's new redesign for The Shield, and Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid's return to the bizarre adventures of The Fox. Today, Archie revealed that it will support the titles through digital platforms that also feature older takes on the characters. To find out more, I spoke to editor Alex Segura about the new direction for the characters and how they're different from previous attempts, the fate of the New Crusaders that were relaunched only a few years ago, and whether Archie's continued move into other genres means that Riverdale's days are numbered.
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.
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.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is the chief creative officer of Archie Comics and the writer on both the critically acclaimed oddball horror comic Afterlife With Archie and the forthcoming Sabrina the Teenage Witch series -- and he's helping oversee a huge creative renaissance at Archie.
Chris Sims caught up with Aguirre-Sacasa at San Diego Comic-Con to talk about the Dark Circle relaunch and the Shield redesign, the 1960s setting of his Sabrina horror comic, the chances of a Josie and the Pussycats appearance in Afterlife With Archie, and whether there's such a thing as "too far" in an Archie zombie horror comic! Plus... any chance of an appearance by Jingles the Christmas Elf in the forthcoming Afterlife With Archie Christmas Special? (Yes, that's a real thing.)
The first three ongoing titles in Archie Comics' new Dark Circle line of superhero comics have been announced, and they offer an immediate glimpse of the diversity of the range, with one offbeat comedy book, one violent noir book, and what looks like a fairly classic legacy superhero story.
Duane Swierczynski and Michael Gaydos tackle noir in The Black Hood; Mark Waid and Dean Haspiel return for more of The Fox; and novelists Adam Christopher and Chuck Wendig join artist Wilfredo Torres on The Shield. All three titles have promise, but they paint a slightly different picture of the line than the forbidding 'Dark Circle' umbrella might have lead readers to expect!
Archie Comics has developed a reputation for doing the unexpected and somehow pulling it off. The wholesome publisher pipped Marvel and DC to the lead in launching an ongoing book with a gay teen protagonist in Kevin Keller; it broke with the conventions of comic book continuity with its attention-grabbing Archie Marries... books; and it successfully brought zombies to Riverdale with its critically and commercially successful Afterlife With Archie books, potentially kicking off a new line of horror books.
So it feels in keeping with that spirit that Archie Comics announced yesterday that it plans to relaunch its cheery (and under-exposed) Red Circle superhero line as 'Dark Circle,' a line of adult-oriented series with the sophisticated narrative ambitions of HBO or Showtime. It's certainly unexpected. Can Archie Comics pull it off?
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