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Category: Fantasy Realms


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s not an overstatement to say Francesco Francavilla is the artist who brought Archie Comics back to life.  At the very least he has turned a new generation of readers onto one of comicdom’s longest lasting titles.  Along with Jon Goldwater and Alex Segura behind the scenes and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and later artist Robert Hack in the pages of the monthly books, it was Francavilla’s haunting, brand new look at Riverdale and its teen characters that kick-started reader interest in new titles and take another look at the classic stories, the ones with the traditional Dan DeCarlo look that 70 years of readers were familiar with.  Francavilla, the Eisner Award-winning cover artist, is the focus of a new hardcover book Archie Comics is premiering this Wednesday.  Featuring all of his Archie Comics standard covers and variants, plus selected interior artwork and cover artwork for books outside the Archie universe, The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla is a must for collectors of his books and neo-pulp styled art prints.

In part because of his use of fantastic colors for his imagery, his designs seem to pop on every page.  You’ll find his several covers for Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Vampironica, Jughead the Hunger, Archie Meets Batman, Archie vs Sharknado, Archie vs Predator, Chilling Adventures in Sorcery, Riverdale, Life with Archie, Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, and Josie and the Pussycats.  Other pages highlight Francavilla’s style on the covers of New Crusaders, The Black Hood, and The Hangman.  The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla also includes some cover and page roughs–preliminary sketches used for approval and story breaking, all shown along with the final versions.  You’ll also find exclusive cover art from convention-only covers and other variants.

Woule we have a Riverdale television series if not for Francavilla’s darker look at Archie?  Probably not.  Here is a first look at some advance preview pages of The Archie Art of Francesco Francavilla for borg readers courtesy of Archie Comics:

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Initially we figured the new Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina would merely fill the void left between seasons of Stranger Things, but this week’s teaser preview looks like the creators of Riverdale may touch on a look and feel from one of the all-time greatest television shows.  You, too, may also feel the vibe of horror similar to the greatest of all teen coming-of-age series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer But you might miss the details even if you don’t blink (like levitating or hanged witches, Sabrina entering a blue portal to another world, the above image of Sabrina entering the woods, and more).  Netflix has sneakily dropped in several brief scene images that look 100% Buffy the Vampire Slayer, including a Hellmouth-esque beast that could have come from the mind of Joss Whedon (and those three nasty characters seem to be from the same realm as the Gentlemen from the episode “Hush”).  How many times have we seen an image of Buffy readying to face demons on her now-classic TV show just like Sabrina in the above image?  At a minimum the new series may make up for the absence of another great horror series we miss, Grimm Ten episodes of the series will be arriving just in time for Halloween.  And along with the teaser, a new poster is out, echoing Sabrina’s 16th birthday as seen in the teaser, all pointing toward a decision to commit to the coven or not, which Sabrina will soon face.

If you peruse most of the entertainment websites over the past several hours you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone mentioning the comic book series the show is based on.  Even comic book sites are still dwelling on comparing this to the 1990s comedy version.  Sabrina was created for Archie Comics 56 years ago by writer George Gladir and artist Dan DeCarlo, and if you’ve been reading borg.com very long (like coverage here) you’re already familiar with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack’s fantastically macabre series of the same name published under the Archie Horror imprint.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is based on the characters in the comic book series, detailing the compelling and, yes, chilling, re-imagining of Sabrina’s occult origins–not any of the several TV adaptations–mostly comedies–that have aired.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars The Legend of Korra’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina, with some well-known genre actors: The Lord of the Rings and War of the Worlds’ Miranda Otto (Zelda), Shaun of the Dead and Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis (Hilda), Doctor Who and Gotham’s Michelle Gomez (Mary Wardell), Beverly Hills Cop and Perfect Strangers’ Bronson Pinchot (George Hawthorne), and Prince of Persia’s Richard Coyle (Father Blackwood), with Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle), Chance Perdomo (Ambrose), Jaz Sinclair (Rosalind), Tati Gabrielle (Prudence), Adeline Rudolph (Agatha), Abigail Cowen (Dorcas), and Lachlan Watson (Susie).  That’s Salem the cat sneaking around at the end of the teaser, and yes, we hear series star Kiernan Shipka is allergic to cats, so we’ll have fun watching how the show films them both together this season.

Check out all of these scene images that you may have missed, followed by the full teaser:

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Stepping into the void left between seasons of Stranger Things, Netflix will be releasing a new television series from the creators of Riverdale that could be the next big thing for comic book, horror–and Stranger Things–fans.  Ten episodes of a live-action adaptation of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s fantastic macabre Archie Horror comic book series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (we’ve talked about the comic book series a lot here at borg.com) will be arriving just in time for Halloween.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina stars The Legend of Korra’s Kiernan Shipka as Sabrina, with some well-known genre actors: The Lord of the Rings and War of the Worlds’ Miranda Otto (Zelda), Shaun of the Dead and Wonder Woman’s Lucy Davis (Hilda), Doctor Who and Gotham’s Michelle Gomez (Mary Wardell), Beverly Hills Cop and Perfect Strangers’ Bronson Pinchot (George Hawthorne), and Prince of Persia’s Richard Coyle (Father Blackwood), with Ross Lynch (Harvey Kinkle), Chance Perdomo (Ambrose), Jaz Sinclair (Rosalind), Tati Gabrielle (Prudence), Adeline Rudolph (Agatha), Abigail Cowen (Dorcas), and Lachlan Watson (Susie).  Netflix provided a sneak peek at the new Sabrina and Salem the cat, too.

Don’t worry, it’s not a reboot of the 1990s television series.  Initially couched as two five-episode seasons, the updated news is that Netflix viewers will get all ten first-season episodes at once, and IMDb lists 20 episodes in the works total.  Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will draw from the comic book series written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Robert Hack, detailing the compelling and shocking re-imagining of Sabrina’s occult origins.  This dark coming-of-age story deals with horror and witchcraft and will see Sabrina struggle to reconcile her dual nature of being half-witch and half-mortal while protecting her family and the world from the forces of evil.

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She’s beautiful.  She’s deadly.  She’s Vampironica.

Next year Archie Comics’ Archie Horror imprint is adding a new title to its dark universe of stories that began with Riverdale television series writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s Afterlife with Archie, then continued in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and this year’s Jughead: The Hunger.  The new monthly series Vampironica will focus on Betty’s forever frenemie Veronica when she’s bitten by a vampire and becomes the latest to join the undead of Riverdale.  Her path will be inspired by classic horror films.

“I’d say that our biggest influences are American Werewolf in London and Fright Night.  Both films can be quite horrific but there’s also a lot of strong characterization and humor to them,” said artist and co-writer Greg Smallwood.  “I think horror works best with a small dose of comedy for levity so we’ve used the same formula on Vampironica.”

“Vampironica humanizes Veronica in a way that only horror can,” adds co-writer Megan Smallwood.  “Becoming a vampire is a humbling experience for her and she’s forced to open up and expose a little vulnerability.  “Veronica Lodge is not the kind of girl to join any ranks, let alone vampire ranks.  True to form, Veronica instead relies on her own gut-instincts.  They haven’t let her down in life and they won’t let her down as she navigates the surreal world of the undead.”

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If you loved CW’s new Riverdale series as much as we did, then you probably have a new appreciation for Archie’s pal Jughead Jones.  The classic Jughead has always had an insatiable appetite, practically living at the Riverdale diner.  Earlier this year Archie Comics’ Archie Horror imprint–the folks that brought us the brilliant otherworld series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina–took Jughead to a dark place and asked: What if Jughead’s hunger came from a sinister place?  The result was the one-shot comic book issue, Jughead: The Hunger. 

Writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine) and artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers) teamed-up and delivered a new Jughead whose ancestry was full of werewolves.  Unknown to most of his friends, Jughead was the “Riverdale Ripper,” murdering townies one by one, including poor Miss Grundy.  But the biggest surprise was Betty Cooper, who hailed from a line of werewolf hunters.  Where we last left Archie and his friends, Jughead had left town.  And Betty was on his trail.

    

Usually one-shots hit the comic book stores, maybe get a reprint.  But this week Archie’s new Madhouse imprint revealed the surprise return of Jughead: The Hunger as a new ongoing series.  “We purposely left the door open with the one-shot, we told you if you made Jughead: The Hunger a hit we’d make more– and since you more than held up your end of the bargain– here we are,” said writer Frank Tieri.  “Fans can expect more of everything they loved about the one shot now as we expand our universe–more werewolf Juggie, more bad ass Betty, more conflicted Archie and more twists and turns than you can shake a severed arm at.”

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If you’re enjoying CW’s new Riverdale series as much as we are, then you probably have a new appreciation for Archie’s pal Jughead Jones.  The classic Jughead has always had an insatiable appetite, practically living at the Riverdale diner.  Actually we wouldn’t be surprised to see him move into the back of the joint on the television series since he lost his home at the drive-in theater, which recently closed.  This month Archie Comics is taking Jughead to a dark place and asks: What if Jughead’s hunger came from a sinister place?

When a murderous menace is on the prowl, taking the lives of some of the most well-known and esteemed inhabitants of Riverdale, Jughead and his family’s dark legacy comes to light. 

It’s Jughead: The Hunger.  It’s a story that will be a prime target for fans of the successful and popular series Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

   

Writer Frank Tieri (Wolverine) and artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers) team-up for an oversized Archie Horror one-shot.  Check out this preview courtesy of Archie Comics:

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Francavilla Archie vs Predator 1 cover   Eric Powell cover 1 Archie vs Predator

If you haven’t checked in with the 73-year-old perpetual teenager Archie Andrews in a while, well, you need to get caught up.  If you don’t remember reading his comics as a kid, just think Happy Days for a minute.  Archie is Richie Cunningham, the do-gooder who is popular with his friends.  The suave Reggie Mantle is a ringer for Potsy Webber, and Ralph Malph is basically Jughead Jones.  You could drop these guys in any school cafeteria in any decade since Archie was created back in 1941 and the words may be different but the conversations would be familiar.  It’s each writer after writer over the years maintaining that accessibility to readers that keeps Archie fresh.  With crossover deals with rights holders and publishers today, that means Archie gets to meet other property icons.  Like the rock group KISS in Archie meets KISS, the Punisher in Archie Meets Punisher, or the kids from the TV show Glee in Archie Meets Glee.  Next week, Archie goes sci-fi.  Instead of a “meet” with the skull collecting alien from the Predator franchise, Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics are releasing a four-issue series, Archie vs. Predator.

Taking Archie comics first into dark territory, and back into the hands of thousands of new readers, was the 2013 series Afterlife with Archie, a zombie story by Archie Comics’ now Chief Creative officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and art by Francesco Francavilla (which we’ve raved about before plenty here at borg.com).  But where Afterlife with Archie re-dresses the setting of Riverdale in a bleak zombie apocalypse, artist Fernando Ruiz has drawn Archie vs. Predator firmly in the more cartoony, more familiar Riverdale.  And it’s that contrast between the classic cartoony and the shocking, and the outright bloody, where writer Alex de Campi takes Archie and friends into a completely new realm.  Like the meet-ups at Big Al’s with the Happy Days kids, de Campi presents some current and believable banter between Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and two new rich kids as they head South of the border for Spring Break.  And don’t be surprised if the quirks and angst of the Riverdale kid remind you of the characters on the classic animated series Daria, but with a Scooby Doo and Buffy the Vampire Slayer twist.

Archie vs Predator banner

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AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0   copperhead04_cover

If you’re wondering what some of the best comic book series are from 2014, you need look no further than your local comic book store right now.  Three of the top ten series of the year have new issues released today.  With Afterlife with Archie, Issue #7, a new story arc begins, featuring the classic Riverdale gang in the aftermath of an encounter with zombies.  Image Comics’ Copperhead, Issue #4, continues its standout story of newly-arrived sheriff Clara Bronson and her son in a sci-fi Western town of aliens and mischief.  And from BOOM! Studios, Wild’s End, Issue #4, continues what could be described as what would happen if neighbors of Winnie the Pooh and the gang have a War of the Worlds encounter, and if that story was directed by Quentin Tarentino.

WildsEnd04_coverA    AfterlifeWithArchie_07-0V

Afterlife with Archie is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with that fantastic artwork we’ve come to expect from Francesco Francavilla.  Copperhead is from the minds of writer Jay Faerber and artists Scott Godlewski and Ron Riley.  And Wild’s End is written deftly by Dan Abnett, with artwork by I.N.J. Culbard.

Check out previews for the new issues of each series, after the break:

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AfterlifeWithArchieMagazine_01-0

Archie Comics is expanding its reach today as its successful dark zombie mash-up monthly Afterlife with Archie is reproduced in a new magazine format.  Bundled with previews of the newest dark tie-in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and some classic horror comics, its sure to be a hit with readers of horror and those who grew up with Archie and his friends.

And what’s better than laying your mitts on an over-sized edition of Francesco Francavilla’s powerful illustrations from one of this year’s best series?  It’s a great series to start up during the Halloween season for everyone from teens on up.

Contributors to the new Afterlife with Archie Magazine, include writers Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Vicente Alcazar, and artists Francesco Francavilla, Jack Morelli, Robert Hack, Vicente Alcazar, Jim Mooney, and Gray Morrow.

Archie clip

After the break, check out a preview of the new magazine, courtesy of Archie Comics:

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Afterlife with Archie main cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

Nothing is more impressive than someone creating an original work that makes you interested in something you were not interested in before.  Even better, when someone creates a new mash-up that brings together two concepts that just can’t go together–like Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and Sabrina–and zombies.  Yet they make it work.  A candidate for best single issue comic book this year is Issue #1 of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla’s new series Afterlife with Archie.

It’s so wrong, and yet so right.  I reader Archie Comics as a kid, but I still haven’t been swept up by the zombie thing… until now.  Heavily influenced by the monster comics of Bernie Wrightson, the art in Afterlife with Archie is as good as it gets.  Eisner winner Francavilla’s style is entirely his own, and like his Black Beetle series discussed here at borg.com earlier this year, readers are transported to the vision of the past as seen in Golden Age comic books.  Even the paper and printing on Issue #1 feels like you’re holding a 1940s comic book in your hands.  Francavilla brings together the classic characters of the Archie universe and the creepiness of “how the end of the world begins”.

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