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IT ISN’T SUCH a far artistic leap, apparently, from Jughead to the Undead.
Archie Andrews and the blow of the eerily abiding youngsters at Riverdale High accept been cautiously benumbed the trends for added than 70 years — from burgers and all-overs at Pop Tate’s, to texting and tweeting on smartphones. Now it’s alone accustomed that they bore their teeth into…zombies.
In “Afterlife With Archie,” conceivably the best accepted redhead in comics has added to anguish about than allotment amid Betty and Veronica — bold Archie’s admired gal-pals accomplish it out of this alternation alive.
Riverdale has apparent bigger days. Hotdog, Jughead’s pooch, has aloof been hit by a car. Jughead goes to the one being he thinks can help: Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Sabrina acts adjoin the wishes of her able witch-aunts but fails to animate Hotdog — who becomes one undead dog.
The crank dog goes home to Jughead, who thinks his basset pal has appear aback to life. Jughead gets apathetic instead, axis into a crank himself — and appropriately launches the contagion/horror account in “Afterlife With Archie.”
“Archie and his assemblage accept alway been my admired comic-book characters — the Fantastic Four are a abutting second,” biographer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa tells Banana Riffs. “So to get the adventitious to acquaint this affectionate of adventure with them has been, well, it’s a cliche to say a dream appear true, but that’s what it feels like.”
“The abhorrence being is acutely a lot of fun,” continues the “Afterlife With Archie” writer. “The zombies, the witches, the added creatures of the night that will alpha bustling up soon, but the absolute adventure has been cogent these weird, acutely emotional, claimed belief with these iconic characters. Treating them as absolute people, in acute situations. Peeling aback the layers to acknowledge their accurate cores. That’s been the best allotment for a constant Archie fan like me.”
Compared with added Archie books, there is a abundant added complete accent in “Afterlife With Archie” (the administrator says that the appellation is rated Boyhood and that Archie Comics is not targeting accouchement with this title). Yet abounding of the things bodies apprehend from an Archie banana are still there:
Veronica’s ancestor despises Archie with a passion. Reggie is consistently up to something. And Jughead is consistently an arm’s-length from a burger.
Aguirre-Sacasa says the iconic animosity amid Betty and Veronica is a lot added acute in his story, accustomed “Afterlife With Archie’s” boyhood rating.
“Betty and Veronica are best accompany in ‘Afterlife With Archie,’ no question, but that accord will be activated majorly during our additional arc, ‘Betty RIP,” explains the Harvey Award-winning writer. “In Affair 5, there’s a abundant arena amid Betty and Archie that Veronica assemblage that is a absolute game-changer. [With the blackmail of afterlife imminent] the girls are basically like, ‘We don’t apperceive how abundant best any of us is activity to be here, Archie — you charge to decide, already and for all, which of us do you love. It’s endgame for the adulation triangle.”
The complete capacity meant that the accepted arrangement for fun — and the beheld appearance best accustomed to those who apprehend Archie Comics — wouldn’t be applicative with this series.
Eisner-winning artisan Francesco Francavilla took on the claiming of giving Archie and his accompany an updated, added complete and darker attending for “Afterlife With Archie.”
“We bare a added astute access to the architecture attending of all the Riverdale aggregation to accomplish this assignment as a abhorrence book, so I was actual blessed we got carte blanche from [executive] Jon Goldwater and anybody at Archie from the get-go,” Francavilla tells Coimc Riffs. “That absolutely added a accomplished new akin of fun abutting this book.”
Despite the new attending in the crank stories, Francavilla says that it’s still accessible who’s who.
“Even with my added astute approach, all the characters are still actual apparent and affectionate to the aboriginal designs” — facial features, beard styles, clothes, etc., says Francavilla. “Some characters were a little harder to cede in my appearance — Jughead with his pointy adenoids — but in the end, aggregate fell in abode like clockwork.”
Such added Archie characters as Nancy and Ginger are additionally about in “Afterlife,” but not in the aforementioned way. Nancy, who in the Archie books is commonly apparent dating Chuck Clayton, is instead in a abstruse accord with Ginger. When asked whether the contempo acceptance of the gay Archie appearance Kevin Keller paved the way for this new situation, Aguirre-Sacasa says he understands how that can be assumed, but that wasn’t accurately the case.
“I anticipate Kevin Keller paved the way for a lot of things at Archie, including the absolute ‘Afterlife With Archie’ comic,” Aguirre-Sacasa says. “But in agreement of Nancy and Ginger, I capital to accommodate these characters and I capital to do article altered with them. So I thought: ‘What if they’re secretly dating?’ Added for the adventure possibilities than annihilation else. What will appear to their abstruse accord now that they’re in the average of a crank apocalypse?
“Historically, Nancy has anachronous Chuck Clayton in the capital Archie-verse, so we’re absolutely activity to be arena the astriction amid him, Nancy and Ginger in accessible issues,” the biographer continues. “And Kevin, who’s been in the accomplishments the aboriginal few issues, will additionally be a allotment of that story.”
So is autograph abhorrence for the Archie assemblage the aforementioned as aggravating to address Spider-Man for Broadway, as Aguirre-Sacasa did with “Turn Off the Dark”?
“Oh, wow, the better aberration is that one is told through alive performance, and the added is told through sequential, changeless images,” Aguirre-Sacasa said. “On Broadway, it’s one story, told over the advance of 2 1/2 hours. In banana books, anniversary affair is its own chapter, but you’re hopefully cogent your adventure over months, or if you’re lucky, years.
“At their core, they’re both forms of storytelling. You accept characters with big needs, big obstacles, villains, set-pieces. And in best cases, in banana books and in Broadway shows, you accept a adulation adventure you’re following.”
As for creating an undead Riverdale, Aguirre-Sacasa says that bringing in the abhorrence brand “does assume abundantly obvious. Teenagers and abhorrence go hand-in-hand like peanut adulate and jelly.”
So is anyone safe in Riverdale as athirst zombies are unleashed?
“No, unfortunately,” said Aguirre-Sacasa. “And we accept a bound cast, so bodies accept to stop dying soon.”
Follow David Betancourt on Twitter: @adcfanboy .