Welcome back to Everything's Archie, our (semi-)regular column aimed at keeping ComicBook.com readers up to date on what's going on with Archie Comics.
Archie President and Editor Mike Pellerito joins us to talk about everything from the publisher's beloved teen romance titles like Archie and Betty & Veronica to their long-running licensed Sonic the Hedgehog books to their TV series Riverdale and their irreverent, best-selling horror line.
And there's plenty to talk about, with a big announcement about the future of Archie (the title) as well as lots of exclusive art from Joe Eisma, Dan Parent, Gisèle Lagacé, and more.
So read on to get the most Archie for your (non-existent) buck!
First up -- and the biggest news of the month -- is the announcement of a new artist for the next arc of Archie. The publisher's flagship title launched with Fiona Staples, with Veronica Fish taking over for the second storyline.
When that story is done? Next, we'll have Morning Glories artist Joe Eisma headed back to (a decidedly less dangerous) school for Archie.
We started our chat with Mike Pellerito, asking him what to expect from the book's next arc...!
Obviously you had a huge name in the form of Fiona Staples come on board for Archie, and then following her up it's been more the "talent deserving wider recognition" approach. Do you have any idea where that will go next?
Great question. To me, Archie Comics as a whole is about “talent deserving wider recognition.”
That starts with Mark Waid, who is a big name to many, but he’s really knocking it out of the park here. He’s an absolute genius, and he makes writing an Archie story – which is no easy feat – seem simple and painless. Across the board, we’re blessed to work with such great talents.
And sure, it’s impossible to top Fiona. There’s only one Fiona Staples. She has a style and attitude that is completely unique. We were supremely lucky to have someone like her, who has a great love for the characters, step in and handle the first three issues. We were equally blessed to have someone like Annie Wu come in and finish our initial arc. And while a lot of people weren’t familiar with the work of Veronica Fish when she started on the series, I guarantee she’s a star now. She really blew people away with her work and we were so lucky to have her on the main Archie book for as long as we did.
What I’m trying to say is, when we look for talent to work on these books, it’s not just about star value or “name” – it’s about craft and knowing the world. Archie #11 and #12 will feature Thomas Pitilli and Ryan Jampole stepping in to handle art chores and after that we’ll see frequent variant cover artist and Morning Glories artist Joe Eisma team with Mark for a very special story arc. It’s gonna be a fun ride, and we’ll continue to team up with the best and brightest in the business.
Will Mark stay on for the foreseeable future?
We love Mark and he seems to be having a blast. He’s a cornerstone of what we’re doing and is putting together an amazing, historic Archie run. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think we all want this to roll along for some time.
Okay, so that's what's up with Archie. What about the next of the New Riverdale publishing line...?
There's a lot of stuff going on right now in New Riverdale, and Eisma's move to Archie is just a small part of it.
There's movement on all fronts, and you can see some sample art from Jughead and Josie and the Pussycats below, along with some exclusive interior art from the next issue of Adam Hughes's Betty & Veronica.
Speaking of which, when's that next issue going to hit?
How's the shipping schedule looking? You've got a bunch of New Riverdale titles with in-demand talent and that can sometimes lead to conflicts.
So far, so good. Some stuff has been shuffled – we moved Betty & Veronica #2 back a bit to make sure we hit our date. We realize that from time to time we are going to hit some bumps, it’s impossible not to, and it’s something all publishers face. We’re doing our best to minimize the wait between issues and, as always, appreciate how patient the fans and retailers have been with us, across the board.
We are doing more new, groundbreaking material than ever before in our 75-year history. It’s pretty radical and new compared to Archie from even ten years ago. We’re now one of the most talked-about and progressive publishers out there. But we realize timeliness is of major importance, and it’s something we’ve made a priority with our key titles.
Betty & Veronica is on a bi-monthly schedule with the next installment set to arrive on October 5th.
So you plan on having Betty and Veronica and The Black Hood on the shelves in time for NYCC?
Definitely. Adam is doing a great job on Betty & Veronica, really showing his chops as a writer and not just a gifted artist. Issue #1 did really well for us and he just keeps getting better. It’s amazing to see.
Also, in terms of NYCC – Jughead and Josie & the Pussycats are going to be major focuses for us. JOSIE co-writers Marguerite Bennett and Cameron DeOrdio have crafted a really relatable, fun and rockin’ new series that is brought to life beautifully by Audrey Mok. I think this is one book that’ll really hook fans right away. It’s one of those books you just want to run forever.
And, with Jughead #9, we see the New Riverdale introduction of Sabrina as she visits Jughead’s book along with new writer Ryan North, who partners with artist Derek Charm to form a pretty unstoppable new creative team. Fans should look out for both books. Hunt for the J titles.
For more on The Black Hood Season 2, check back in just a few moments...or stick around and see more interior art from the next Jughead (and covers from the first two issues of Josie and the Pussycats) below.
One of the biggest symbols of Archie's evolution in the last decade or so has been Kevin Keller.
Much-hyped as the first gay character to enter Riverdale's publishing canon, Kevin has become a key supporting player in the Archie family of titles, and while he lost his solo series around the time the publisher decided to launch New Riverdale with new #1 issues for Archie, Jughead, etc., fans are now getting Life With Kevin, a title in the vein of the popular Life With Archie, which follows Kevin into adulthood.
Written and drawn by the character's creator Dan Parent, the title just launched its first (digital-only) issue last month.
How has the response been so far to Life With Kevin?
From what I’ve seen, it’s been really positive. People are keen on seeing an older, more mature Kevin navigate New York City. It’s been great to watch Dan Parent expand Kevin’s world and also his own work. This book has him paired with J Bone, which really creates a new look to Kevin and the series. We’re all very excited by the series and I think fans will be surprised and intrigued by what’s in store. Issue #2 is set to come out on September 7th and we can't wait for everyone to see what happens when Veronica moves in with Kevin and turns his life upside down.
Might we see Kevin get a book in New Riverdale, or is he kind of in his own space for a while?
It’s possible. I wouldn’t rule it out. But for now, the focus is on Life With Kevin and Kevin’s very important role as a key member of the cast across the New Riverdale books.
You can check out a couple of exclusive pages from an upcoming issue of Life With Kevin below.
ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES
They've met everyone from The Punisher to The Predator, and even faced down a Sharknado -- but what will Archie and the Riverdale gang do when they come face to face with The Ramones?
We'll find out soon, in a story from writers Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg with artist Gisèle Lagacé (famous for designing the logo for this column, natch).
So we've got Archie Meets Ramones coming out. Have you guys considered, especially with the importance of music to 'RIVERDALE,' shifting one of these things to the New Riverdale look and feel?
I think the vibe at Archie, in large part due to our Publisher/CEO Jon Goldwater, is that “everything’s on the table.” So, yes, having something in the New Riverdale style involving music is something we’ve considered. We’ve seen glimpses of it, too. That two-page spread in ARCHIE #1 where he hits all the right notes on his guitar is just perfect, right? We’ve got some big story beats that involve music in the main series and, as always, we’re open to collaborating with the right band at the right time. I know Archie Meets Ramones co-writer Alex Segura is dying to do Archie Meets The Beatles.
And, speaking of Archie Meets Ramones – I think that book might be one of the best crossovers we’ve done to date. Alex and Matthew Rosenberg have crafted one of the definitive battle of the bands stories yet, and Gisele is doing the best work of her storied Archie career. It’s going to surprise a lot of people.
Anybody you want Archie to MEET that you haven't yet started moving on?
Like I said earlier, it’s all on the table and viable. We’re wide open. But it’s hard to make a gimmick work unless there’s something really unique or special about the idea. It needs to have a serious wow factor. The concept for Archie Meets Ramones is very different from Archie Meets KISS, which, in turn, is very different from Archie vs. Sharknado.
As off-the-wall as these sound, a lot of thought goes into whether or not the idea can be executed as a great story. If it can’t, we’re not interested. The Archie characters are icons and extremely flexible when handled well, but we still have to be smart and thoughtful about it, we don’t want to be in a position where we feel like we’ve done too many.
Earlier on, we talked a little bit about the shipping schedule.
Archie Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who writes Afterlife With Archie for the publisher, assured me at Comic Con International: San Diego in July that the horror titles (including Afterlife as well as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) will be back on a more reliable schedule soon. Case in point? We've got new Afterlife coming right up, and you can check out preview pages of that below.
THE BLACK HOOD
We spoke with not only Pellerito, but also Dark Circle editor Alex Segura, who has championed Archie's superhero line, about the forthcoming second "season" of Duane Swierczynski's The Black Hood, due in stores in October with artist Greg Scott.
"That book is really going to surprise people," Pellerito told me. "We’re relaunching the series with a new #1 to hopefully get some more eyeballs on it because internally, we love it. It’s one of, if not the, best crime comic out there. Duane Swierczynski and Greg Scott are leveling up with this one and we have Michael Walsh and Greg Smallwood on covers along with the esteemed Rachel Deering and Kelly Fitzpatrick on letters and colors. I hope people check it out. It’s really a masterpiece of noir."
“After the insanity of The Black Hood volume 1, the new season starts in sunny California, and Greg Hettinger is not in the best spots," added Segura. "Duane is really ramping up the noir factor for this arc and Greg Scott is doing some of the best art of his career. It’s a perfect jumping-on point for new readers and a great crime caper for fans of TV shows like Bloodline, Breaking Bad, True Detective and Fargo. Hope you check it out! We’ll also be closing out the initial arcs of The Shield and The Hangman with some big Dark Circle news coming toward the end of the year – stay tuned for that – The Black Hood volume 2 #1 hits on October 19!”
You can check out some exclusive interior art from the first issue of the next The Black Hood volume below.
Dark Circle, of course, might be Archie's only superheroes, but that's far from the only place you go for action in the industry's most family-friendly publisher: their licensed line of video game adaptations boasts one of the industry's longest continuously-published comics, let alone licensed comics, in the form of Sonic the Hedgehog...!
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG
The publisher has provided ComicBook.com with a few exclusive (and still pending licensor approval) pages from Sonic Mega Drive: The Next Level.
You can check them out above and below, along with some covers from the upcoming Sonic titles, as Pellerito turns the conversation over to Archie Action Editor Vin Lovallo.
What's going on with the Archie Action line? Obviously there's a TON of stuff going on with Ian Flynn's Sonic books.
That's right! The Archie Action line has kicked into high-gear with the super-hit of the summer, Sonic: Mega Drive. We saw great success with the one-shot issue as it quickly sold-out and we just recently released the second printing. A follow up is coming out this November titled, Sonic: Mega Drive – The Next Level, that features the return a certain metal doppelgänger.
We will be delving even further into Sonic's 25th anniversary celebration in the monthly series, Sonic the Hedgehog, with a story arc titled "Genesis of a Hero". We'll be revisiting the stories from the classic Genesis era of Sonic while introducing new elements exclusive to the comic continuity which I know a lot of fans are going to appreciate.
The sister series, Sonic Universe, follows the adventures of the Team Chaotix detective agency, as they pursue "The Case of the Pirate Princess". Ian Flynn and Aleah Baker have been doing some excellent work on this one and are really pushing the humor and thrills!
Finally, we have a solid line up of graphic novels and new projects coming down the pike. I know a lot of people will be pleased for what we have in store for 2017.
Last but not least, we had to ask about 2017's big Archie adaptation Riverdale, coming to The CW from executive producer Greg Berlanti, the man behind Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and DC's Legends of Tomorrow, among others.
Specifically, we wanted to know whether there was any chance of people getting another chance to see it at New York Comic Con, a couple of months before the show hits the airwaves in the early part of next year.
If you want to know what we thought of Riverdale, you can read my review here.
And here, in closing, is what Pellerito had to say bout the show's New York prospects.
Any chance we'll get another Riverdale panel or screening at New York for those who missed it in San Diego?
Hopefully. It’s not fully our call, but after seeing the response in San Diego to the two screenings I saw, I’m eager to see how the NY crowd responds. It was so hugely positive, such a great crowd response.
Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa] wrote a brilliant pilot and the cast is really perfect. It feels very Archie while still pushing things forward, which is much harder than it sounds. True to the comic and characters but different, while still being undeniably Archie.