BCC ’17: Archie Comics: Riverdale Revealed With Alex Segura, Mark Waid, Joe Eisma & Dan Parent

by Hannah Means Shannon

The Archie Comics: Riverdale Revealed Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con 2017, hosted by Alex Segura, featured Mark Waid, Joe Eisma, and Dan Parent.

Segura asked the audience if they were watching the Riverdale show, and they were, though some were surprised that they liked something that turned out not to be as classic Archie as they expected.

The big news recently is that The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are going to be joining the CW as a TV show and the book itself is coming out in a couple weeks, too.

The main Archie comic just came through the “Over the Edge” storyline, and Segura commented that people are starting to take for granted that the new incarnation of Archie exists as a comic, but this is a comic that’s more “real”, according to Mark Waid.

Waid said that in the past couple years, there’s been plenty of “drama” but not a lot of “consequence” whereas real-life teenagers do stupid things. These kids are “not perfect”, he said, and that’s where “Over the Edge” came from. They decided to create a situation where something bad happens and the kids have to deal with that, without just wrapping it up within a single issue. They’ve had a good response critically, and in sales, Segura said.

In the new storyline “Heart of Riverdale”, drawn by Audrey Mok, the kids are dealing with the aftermath of “Over the Edge”. In this the characters learn how important Betty is to Riverdale.

In Your Pal Archie, drawn by Dan Parent, the title is “all new classic Archie” which is a “fun hybrid”. Parent said it’s a “makeover on the classic” and it all started with wanting to change Archie’s hair, since Parent liked Archie’s hair on the TV show. The stories are classic, funny, goofy, and silly, Parent said. He feels that he and writer Ty Templeton have created something “a little different” and weren’re sure that classic fans would go for it, but both core fans and new fans have been on board.

Parent also created Life with Kevin, a digital comic that’s now coming to a trade collection, following Kevin Keller into college life in New York City. The comic is still classic style, and he lives with Veronica, who messes up Kevin’s social life, Parent said. Parent said, “Kevin has a lot of positive energy. That’s just who he is”, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have struggles.

The Archies, written by Matthew Rosenberg and Alex Segura, and drawn by Joe Eisma, is coming up with a strong music focus, in October. Striking out on their own and leaving Riverdale, the Archies band takes to the road, but the heart of the comic is still “comedy”, Eisma said. The comic will have real bands showing up, including CHVRCHES, a Scottish indie rock trio.

In terms of crossovers, the DC Comics team up combining Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy with Betty & Veronica, is on the way, with Adam Hughes on art.

Jughead: the Hunger is a darker titles, co-written by Frank Tieri, is “unfiltered and non-stop”, according to Segura. It’s classic style “ramped up”. The characters are part of the series, but there are “no rules” in these horror titles, Segura said, including killing characters off.

Betty & Veronica: Vixens is also coming up, a “fun, motorcycle, old-school movie” vibe, drawn by Eva Cabrera.

Archie’s line of superhero characters are coming back in The Mighty Crusaders, too. Working toward a story that doesn’t require “decades of continuity knowledge”, the series is drawn by Kelsey Shannon and written by Ian Flynn.

Cosmo, a weird goofy sci-fi series arrives in January.

Afterlife with Archie is still “in progress”, Segura assured fans, showing them a new Francavilla page, though it is being created by “two of the busiest guys in comics”.

Asked who their favorite characters are, Waid said Betty, Eisma said Cheryl, Parent said Jughead, but “team Veronica all the way”.

Asked what’s coming up that he can tease in the Archie title, Waid said “more Cheryl stuff”, looking into who her “real father” is. Looking back to the fact that there was no continuity in the Archie stories of the 50’s and 60’s, Waid kind of wishes they could do that again. But nowadays fans are much more continuity-focused.

Asked if he was a fan in his youth, Eisma said he “resisted” because his sister was a huge fan, but it was the days before the internet, so he used to read the digests that were lying around and got “sucked in”. He was “totally team Betty”.

Parent has been drawing Archie for 30 years, and reading for 20 more, so he’s always been “immersed”. In Your Pal Archie, he’s working on the old formula of “Archie causing calamity at the Lodge House”. Coming up there’ll be a “Betty’s diary” story. On Life with Kevin, he’s drawing the last few pages, so they can get the book out.

Talking about The Archies, Eisma enthused over the number of bands that will be involved in the future. They’ll be announcing the next band, for issue #4, Segura said.

Asked about the business side of things, and how they keep from competing with themselves by highlighting certain characters over others, Segura said they “cast a wide net” through digital and stores. Waid chimed in that the market and Archie have changed over time. There were many more titles in the past, which if continued, might cause that problem. But he sees Archie Comics as being “slow and meticulous” is rolling things out to help “train comic retailers” to carry their titles. Waid said that including “extra content” in the back of comics to “cross-pollinate” readers helps, too.

Asked how the relationship between the show and the comics has developed, Mark Waid said they do want the two world to be “recognizable” for fans of both media, but it’s not very closely tied, since that relationship is more closely held by the Riverdale comic series.

Segura feels that the show “amplifies” the characters and may lead people who haven’t read the comics to read the comics.

Asked if in creating Kevin Keller, creators or the company were concerned about what long term fans might feel about having a gay character. Dan Parent said there were some click-baitish responses about it, but if five people cancelled reading Archie Comics, hundreds more signed up to read them for the first time.

Asked how the continually come up with new stories, many of the panelists said they drew from real life, whether their own, or from observing their children’s lives.