By Adam Karenina Sherif
Hot on the heels of the announcement that Archie Comics will be publishing original content to digital platform Webtoon, the publisher’s NYCC panel featured a range of creators discussing the Archieverse across comics, novels, and television. Hosted by Archie Comics digital marketing manager Ron Cacace, the panelists were long-serving writer / artist Dan Parent, editor and writer Jamie L. Rotante (Betty & Veronica: The Bond Of Friendship), and writers Micol Ostow (Riverdale: The Ties That Bind), Sarah Kuhn (Riverdale Diaries: Hello Betty!) and Eliot Rahal (Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina Presents: Madam Satan). A new one-shot, and two new digest series were announced.
The panel opened with a Riverdale Season 4 recap highlight reel and a pre-taped video drop-in from Madelaine Petsch who plays Cheryl Blossom on the CW show. She greeted comics fans and hyped up Season 5.
Asked about her novels set in the world of the show, Ostow detailed her collaborative planning process with the TV show’s writers, explaining that she works from a sense of what the season’s narrative beats and central mystery will be and tries to both “parallel and complement what’s happening on the TV show, without creating any contradictions”. It’s a “tough dance”, made slightly easier by the show’s writers being accessible.
Ostow also mentioned her upcoming OGN The Ties That Bind, illustrated by Thomas Pitilli (due out February 2021), noting that while it’s “daunting to conceive of an entire story arc in the comics format”, she’s thrilled to be able to contribute to the comics. She spoke highly of Pitilli and also shared that she “tries to be deferential to the artistic side of things”. The book’s story, which fits alongside Season 4, will see Betty, Veronica, Archie and Jughead each dealing with their own mystery all happening over the course of one night.
Editor Rotante announced a new one-shot comic due out January 2021, Riverdale Presents: South Side Serpents #1, written by David Barnett, art by Richard Ortiz, colours by Matt Herms, letters by Jack Morelli, and with a variant cover by Tyler Boss. This one-shot “almost serves as a prequel” to the show, focusing on FP Jones passing the torch of leadership to his son Jughead. “The dark aspects of Riverdale are at the forefront of this, and it’s very cool”.
Rotante also discussed her graphic novel with artist Brittney Williams, Betty & Veronica: The Bond Of Friendship, a book at the other end of the tonal spectrum: “it’s uplifting, it’s fun, it’s about friendship”. She praised the fluidity of Williams’ artwork.
Another major announcement was the unveiling of two new digest comics series. World Of Betty & Veronica, kicks off in January 2021 and will have a new 10-page lead feature by Rotante and Williams. Rotante says the book will have the Archie hallmark of “staying current”. She also introduced the Archie 80th Anniversary Digest, which launches February 2021 with a cover by Parent. Alongside some reprints, this book’s first lead feature will be a new story written by Bill Golliher and drawn by Pat & Tim Kennedy.
Parent spoke about his work in the digests, highlighting in particular his love for the seasonal specials, especially Halloween and Christmas. He also noted that he’s glad that the more classic Archie style co-exists alongside the more modern iterations. Addressing the realities of the pandemic and the lack of in-person convention interaction, Parent showed some of the custom portrait commissions he’s been working on of late.
Kuhn talked about her recent graphic novel with artist J. Bone, The Riverdale Diaries: Hello Betty! She shared that she’s especially enjoyed working on these slightly younger versions of the characters, because “they’re not quite who they are yet” and because of Bone’s wholesome character designs. Kuhn mentioned the friendship between Valerie and Toni and the book, and its personal resonance for her as a woman of color. She also revealed that as a 12-year old she wrote an angry letter to the publisher about a story she disliked, and was amazed to get a response back.
Rahal spoke about the Madam Satan one-shot, with art by Julius Ohta. It focuses on the title character finally getting to rule Hell after dethroning Lucifer and addressing the question of “expectation vs. reality”. The slides of Ohta’s designs and interiors really had a genuine Creepy / Eerie vibe to them. Rahal added that joining the world of Archie Comics has been intimidating, but an opportunity he’s grateful for.
Finally, the panel concluded with some covers from upcoming issues of the final issues of the Sabrina: Something Wicked series by Kelly Thompson, Veronica Fish, and Andy Fish. Rotante referred to this second volume of the book as being darker than the first, with Sabrina having to confront “the weight of her magic, and the consequences of it”. She positions it as a perfect YA read that works equally for fans of the Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina TV series.
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