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War Rocket Ajax #24: Alex Segura Talks ‘Archie Meets Kiss’ [Podcast]

This week on the War Rocket Ajax podcast, we’re proud to welcome our very first guest from Archie Comics: Writer and PR director Alex Segura! He’s here to tell us about the crossover you never thought you’d see, Archie Meets KISS, and you can listen to the whole show right here at ComicsAlliance!War Rocket Ajax v.2, #24: Be My Skateboarding with Alex Segura
(WARNING: Contains NSFW language)

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Before Chris gets around to freaking out a guy whose actual job is to make people like Archie Comics with how much Chris likes Archie Comics, he takes you through Thrasher magazine’s amazing King of the Road competition. Meanwhile, Matt has one of the most exciting pieces of news we’ve ever heard on the show! Plus, a return to Thrasher with a letter that asks just how girls are like skateboarding.

When Alex joins us, he gets to talking about what it was like to bring KISS to Riverdale:

KISS is pretty much everywhere, comic-wise and beyond that. I was talking to some people in the office today and everyone was bringing up those Phantom of the Park connections, and one reviewer even said “oh, he’s clearly playing in the Marvel continuity.” And that’s cool, obviously I did my research, but it’s very much its own thing. I wasn’t trying to continue anything.

But I also didn’t want to… I always thought it was absurd to have the characters calling each other by their first names. Like, you want it to be this larger than life thing, and to have them be these supernatural characters, it’d be silly if they were like “Hey, Paul.” It just struck me as odd, so from the beginning, from the pitch on, I as like “This is the Demon, this this Starchild — they’re mystical creatures.”

Maybe I was just waiting to enlist, but now I’m officially in the KISS Army. I’m a big music nerd, so KISS is a big part of that. I love the costumes, I love the theatrical side of it. Some of their stuff is really solid pop rock, and there’s heavier stuff. I had to listen to a lot of it just to get into the right mindset. In revisiting their catalog, I’ve come to appreciate them even more, which is kind of cool.

Alex also talks to us about Archie Comics as a company, and the new strategy that’s seen them become the most progressive comic book publisher around:

A lot of it points to Jon — Jon Goldwater, our CEO. He basically came in with a mandate, he told creators “Look, try new things. Don’t be afraid.” Because Archie for years was very locked in, these are the characters, these are the stories we can tell, these are the stories we can do and can’t do.

You’re a fan, you know the older stuff. I remember as a kid reading the DeCarlo stories, and they were pretty wholesome but there was always an edge to it. Cheryl Blossom would show up and she was such a wrecking ball for Archie, just this random character. There was this kinetic energy to it that, I don’t want to say it got lost, but it just became a little more templated.

Jon just told people like Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz and Alex Simmons and Paul Kupperberg, the core creators, “go crazy.” And out of that came Kevin Keller, and out of that came Life With Archie. In a way, “Archie Meets KISS” probably couldn’t have happened if Jon wasn’t there to take that call.

[...]

With anything that takes any kind of political slant, you’re going to get people that are critical. Even with Kevin, when Kevin came out. But for every critical email or phoine call we got, we got hundreds of positive ones. For all the subscribers we lost on Kevin, we gained a hundredfold. It’s an exciting time. I really don’t know if I would’ve been suitable for Archie if it was just this thing where they were super-conservative.

All that, and find out why ComicsAlliance won’t be doing a Worst Comics of 2011 in this week’s episode!

Show Notes:

You can follow Alex Segura on Twitter!

“Archie Meets KISS” started in Archie #627

Dan Parent’s Pinup-Style cover for Betty & Veronica Double Digest:

You can watch a video about Thrasher‘s King of the Road competition with Team Dekline. Keep in mind that depending on how your job feels about naked dudes covered in shaving cream doing skateboard tricks and singing Biggie Smalls songs, it’s probably not safe for work.

Chris’s Rec: Batman: Arkham City Lockdown

Matt’s Rec: The Roots’ new album, Undun:

Comics:

Super Pro K.O. vol. 2: “There’s so much fun energy to it, there are so many expressive faces, it’s got that great clean cartooning that still packs a lot into the page… If you like comics and wrestling, there’s no reason to not be reading this book.”

OMAC #4: “At one point, one of the alligators opens its mouth and laser beams come out, so…” “Compare this book and its sort of intentional cheesey goofiness to, like, Detective Comics‘ unintentional self-seriousness, turning into self-parody. Both books are equally funny, but you can tell OMAC is doing it on purpose.

Animal Man #4: “This is easily my favorite New 52 comic. Travel Foreman’s art perfectly matches Jeff Lemire’s writing in making this book just wonderfully creepy. This issue basically makes Animal Man the perfect comic for the Internet.”

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