Talking ‘Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe Of Horrors’ With Jordan Morris And Liana Kangas

by Rachel Bellwoar

For anyone who’s ever dreamed of drinking a milkshake at Pop’s or sharing a burger with Jughead, you might want to rethink that choice after reading Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe of Horrors. Not only will this anthology scare you away from eating at diners, but it includes a story by writer, Jordan Morris, and artist, Liana Kangas, that’s as delectable as Pop’s ingredients are unsavory. With colors by Matt Herms and letters by Jack Morelli , read on for an interview with Morris and Kangas where Morris makes a confession that may draw the ire of Charlton Heston fans.

Rachel Bellwoar: Have you always secretly suspected Pop Tate of being up to no good or has the theme of this anthology come as a shock?

Jordan Morris: If you’ve ever had a service industry job, you can sympathize with Pop. When I remember my time as a barista there were definitely times I felt like I was going to snap. Granted, I never became a murderous cannibal, but that’s the fun of these Archie Horror anthologies! You get to tell these extreme “what if?” stories that go to hilariously upsetting places.

Liana Kangas: I have to agree with Jordan; we all knew Pop was going to break at some point, suffering through the drama and relentless debauchery these kids delivered upon his place of business on a daily basis!

Bellwoar: Whose idea was it to call your story “Soylent Teen,” and would you consider yourselves fans of the film, Soylent Green?

Morris: I came up with the title. I’m actually a little nervous to admit this but: I’ve never seen Soylent Green. I hope I don’t get a bunch of angry Charlton Heston fans up in my mentions. The movie’s twist is obviously a pop culture legend and I couldn’t resist the pun when thinking up names for a human-flesh-eating story. I am promising here and now that I will have actually watched the movie by the time this article runs and would be glad to take a comprehension quiz to prove it.

Kangas: I’m just a guy who loves a good pun.

Art by Liana Kangas

Bellwoar: Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe is such an iconic setting. In what ways, if any, did you want to play with the diner’s design to give away the fact that this is part of Archie Horror?

Morris: I love what Liana did with the design. When the horror kicks in, the diner feels claustrophobic in the way that crowded restaurants can. You’re scanning the page for potential exits in the way the characters must be.

Kangas: I tried to limit the number of details when it came to the diner but drew it to be reminiscent of the diners I frequented as a teen. Jordan lined up a perfect way to corner in some gruesomely haunting scenes, including the back of the diner, a walk-in freezer, prep tables etc.; I feel like you never get that sort of scene in Archie comics! It was fun to play on a slice of Pop’s slice of life, murderer or not!

Bellwoar: Why do you feel Betty was the right character to lead this story?

Morris: There was something fun about subjecting a hilariously wholesome character to such a horrific ordeal. If you read a lot of Archie, you know that Betty always gets the job done so I don’t think we’re throwing anything at her she can’t handle.

Kangas: She’s definitely the likely suspect of the neighbor next door; there’s something about the possibility of Betty not only being a final girl, but turning to the dark side.

Art by Liana Kangas

Bellwoar: Whereas Sweeney Todd in the musical, Sweeney Todd, is trying to deceive his customers, the ingredients used for Pop’s burgers are a selling point. Did that give you more freedom, in terms of coming up with a look for the food in this story?

Morris: The food Liana came up with really looks delicious! Hopefully readers have a moment where they think “maybe I’d try a bite?” before coming to their senses.

Kangas: It helps that I am a foodie, and with the inspiration of turning Pop’s into a Michelin rated restaurant, I was ready for the challenge.

Bellwoar: Which element of “Soylent Teen” are you most excited to see fans’ reaction to?

Morris: We hope to make folks laugh, feel hungry, and then sick to their stomachs all within the span of a relatively brief story. I think we nailed it!

Kangas: Jordan’s script was a delight to draw, with such an iconic set of characters in so few pages. I think despite the brevity, the cast, their personalities, and fun designs of the characters will be incredibly memorable!

Bellwoar: Is there an Archie character you haven’t written or drawn for yet that you’d love to try your hand at someday?

JM: When I initially started pitching ideas to Archie super-editor Jamie Rotante, I realized I had pitched like six versions of “Veronica faces a danger but is ultimately immune because of her confidence.” I love how sure of herself Veronica is and think it would be fun to turn that into a superpower. Can I have two? I definitely think Betty was the right person for the job in “Soylent Teen” but spending so much time in the diner made me excited to do something with Jughead in the future.

Kangas: I enjoy the hell out of playing in the Riverdale universe, but it would be so fun to maybe explore Greendale one day! But in all transparency, drawing Betty was definitely a bucket list item. Betty and Veronica are my first loves, their enemies to…lov-friendship is by far one of my favorite iconic IPs in comics! It would be so fun to draw some supernatural elements to them, like Vampironica or Jughead: The Hunger!

Bellwoar: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Jordan and Liana (and I hope we see those projects come to be in the near future)!

Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe Of Horrors goes on sale March 22nd from Archie Comics.

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