I was surprised to find the panelists fully assembled upon walking into the room for the Archie Comics Forever panel. In my experience, running all over the place trying to grab the right people and the right technical setup by the time the crowd files in especially as this was the first panel of the day, so hats off to Archie. Digital Marketing Manager, Ron Cacace took to the podium to moderate and introduced the panelists including Co-president Alex Segura, Frank Tieri (Jughead: The Hunger), Dan Parent (Archie meets Batman ’66), Co-president Jon Goldwater, Co-president / EIC Victor Gorelick, Co-President Mike Pellerito, Jamie L. Rotante (Betty & Veronica), Micol Ostow (Riverdale: The Day Before), and Nick Spencer (Archie).
Goldwater started off by saying that 60 years ago today was Gorelick’s very first day at Archie Comics. He went on to say that Gorelick was “more Archie than Archie himself.” Pellerito presented Gorelick with a framed image that included one cover for every decade he’d been at the publisher. Gorelick said his first job at Archie was to go through a batch of artwork with white paint to remove any cleavage and belly buttons to adhere to the comics code. He added that over the past 60 years, he never missed a deadline and he only missed two Christmas parties.
Cacace jumped into the content with Riverdale, which was met with huge applause. Season 3 starts on Wednesday, October 10th. The trailer for the new season was shown. Goldwater spoke about the Riverdale comic series, which fills in the gaps between episodes. It comes from writers of the TV show so it is heavily entwined within the universe.
On this subject, the discussion turned to Riverdale: The Day Before, the upcoming prequel novel. Ostow spoke about path to the project after watching the show and falling in love with it along with the Archie universe. She felt she had a connection to these characters and do justice to the vision that the creators have done for so many years. A sampler of the novel is available at the Archie Comics booth.
Next up was Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, debuting on October 26th on Netflix. Goldwater talked about the background of the show, where Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa pitched the horror version of Sabrina and it’s come along from there. A trailer for the series was shown.
Staying in the horror vein, Cacace brought up Blossoms 666, a new series from writer Cullen Bunn and artists Laura Braga and Matt Herms. Segura said they were looking for ways to expand the Archie horror world and thought about making one of the Blossoms the Anti-Christ. They were always a little evil anyway. Goldwater revealed that the initial idea came from his daughter who asked if they could do a story with the Blossoms as The Omen.
The horror continued with Jughead: The Hunger vs. Vampironica from writer Frank Tieri and artists Pat & Tim Kennedy. Tieri said he’s wanted to do a crossover with the Archie Horror properties forever. He promised that it’s a lot of fun and there will be major ramifications for both books. Tieri spoke more about Jughead: The Hunger, pointing out that that series is his ode to classic movie monsters. Franken-Moose is coming!
Wrapping up the horror chat was Vampironica. Segura said that when that series first came out, it felt like it had always been there. It’s a perfect fit. Greg Scott will be coming on as the artist for the next couple issues leading up to the crossover. Goldwater teased a possibility of seeing Vampironica on TV which was met with enthusiasm from the crowd.
Archie 1941 was next on the docket. Pellerito explained that this was a way to take Archie back to its beginnings with a new imagining. Archie started up in 1941 so it was interesting to go back to that time period and explore what it would be like for high school students in a war-filled environment. A brief trailer was shown highlighting the artwork for the comic, narrated by writer Brian Augustyn.
Speaking of Archie, the subject turned to the publisher’s flagship title. The series relaunched a few years ago and is now collected in six trade paperbacks. It’s going back to its original numbering with issues #700 from writer Nick Spencer and artist Marguerite Sauvage. Archie #699 is a $1 catch-up issue.
Segura spoke about how they wanted to do something special for Archie #700. He said Spencer honored Mark Waid’s run on the title and added more to it. Spencer said “I’m just so excited! It means the world to have my name on Archie #700.” He added that it’s one of the most beautiful comics he’s ever been a part of. The latest run on Archie is an impossible act to follow, but Spencer seems up to the task, tapping into the energy and passion that the fans have for these characters right now.
Spencer went on to tease some new and returning characters as well as some new romances that he couldn’t believe he was able to push through. You could really hear his excitement about working on this title so I’m really looking forward to his run.
Spinning out of the Archie talk, the discussion turned to Betty & Veronica. The series will be relaunched in December with writer Jamie L. Rotante, artist Sandra Lanz, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick. Rotante said that this series takes place in the characters’ senior year and explores the idea that their future is impending. Each issue is a different season. She also teased some possible new romances.
Described as the crossover you never knew you wanted, Archie Meets Batman ’66 was up next. Parent said he’s done a lot of crossovers for Archie but this was the most fun. “To draw the Joker and Jughead together in a scene is crazy.”
Segura spoke briefly about The Archies, which just wrapped up. He co-wrote the series where the band met with real life musical acts. It explored a personal story with the ups and downs of being in a band. Goldwater touched upon Cosmo, the super fun all-ages comic that’s now available in trade paperback.
The panel was then opened up audience Q&A. A fan asked about the potential of a crossover between the Riverdale and Sabrina shows. Goldwater said that’s always been the dream, but you never know.
Another fan asked if there were plans for new, original characters in the Archie universe. Goldwater said that they always say they own hundreds of brands and thousands of characters. As such, you can expect some new folks to show up in season 3 of Riverdale.
A fan asked about the Archie Horror imprint and if there were plans to do more there. Pellerito said they’re getting more pitches for horror than anything else right now, so there are some definite possibilities.
When asked if there were any other crossovers they’d like to do, Segura said he’d love to do The Archies meet the Beatles. Cacace said he always wanted to see Jughead vs. Wolverine. Tieri said when he was at Marvel he tried to put a panel in talking about Jughead getting his nipples cut off but they didn’t go with that. Spencer said he’d volunteer his services for Archie meets Spider-Man.
A fan asked about the possible continuation of Afterlife with Archie. Goldwater said that that title is one of his favorites, but Aguirre-Sacasa is insanely busy right now. They feel awful that it’s been delayed so much but they fully intend to finish that story.
When asked about Josie & the Pussycats, Segura said to stay tuned. They’ll have an announcement on that very soon.
A fan dressed as Starfire said she grew up reading the comics so she wasn’t sure how she’d like Riverdale with all the drama and murder. She asked the panel if they’d be interested in making an Archie sitcom. Goldwater said they have a lot of plans for Riverdale, but that sounds like a great idea.
Another fan asked if Archie would get into movies or create a shared cinematic universe. Goldwater met that with enthusiasm. She followed up with a question about a Chilling Adventures of Sabrina tie-in comic. There were comics before this but it sounds like there might be some additional books coming. Nothing specific at this time though.
The final question was whether the creators ever get tired of using the same characters for decades. Goldwater pointed out that there are many different versions of Archie and the gang over time that have allowed them to refresh them.