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 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.
The Humble Bundle continues to be one of the best values in comic books, and as you might expect, this week they've turned their attention to the morespoooooky side of things. And by that, I mainly mean comics where Pinocchio uses his endless wooden nose to stab vampires.
In addition to several books without pictures -- which I find strange and frightening -- the current Horror Book bundle added a bunch of horror comics today, including The Mocking Dead by Fred Van Lente and Max Dunbar, a volume of Valiant's Shadowman by Peter Milligan and Roberto de la Torre, the first omnibus of Dark Horse's Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics, the first two issues of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla's Afterlife With Archie, and more.
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.
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.
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.)
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?
This week, Chris and Matt talk about how much they love Big Trouble in Little China, and how much they enjoyed the first issue of the new comic sequel by Eric Powell and Brian Churilla in spite of some art hiccups; then it's on to Nailbiter #2 by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson; and finally they discuss the first volume of Afterlife With Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla.
Although Archie's core line of kid-friendly titles has been grabbing its share of headlines lately, the company's biggest critical and commercial success over the past year has undoubtedly been Afterlife With Archie, the moody, adult-oriented story of how the zombie apocalypse hits Riverdale. Created by Francesco Francavilla and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the book has been hailed by fans and critics, and with that kind of praise, it was pretty much inevitable that they'd expand the line with another similar title.
Now, they have. This week, Archie announced Chilling Adventures ofSabrina, an ongoing series about everyone's favorite teen witch, from Afterlife writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack.
Comics fans know Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa from his work writing a handful of Marvel properties, such as Marvel Knights 4 and The Sensational Spider-Man and from the recent breakout hit Afterlife With Archie. But he's also a TV writer (for shows including Glee and Big Love) and playwright (the only reason Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark ended up making any kind of sense), which is a big reason Archie Comics has named him its first-ever chief creative officer.
Aguirre-Sacasa's first move on behalf of the company is a big one, too: He's tapped Girls creator Lena Dunham to write a four-issue miniseries for the company, starting next year.
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