Following Mark Waid’s critically acclaimed run, Archie #700 established some huge new mysteries: What did Josie and the Pussycats leave behind? What is Reggie hiding? Why is Archie keeping his relationship with Sabrina a secret? Who wrecked Reggie’s father’s office? All those questions (and a few more) were presented in writer Nick Spencer and artist Marguerite Sauvage's first issue on the book.
Newsarama had a chance to talk to Sauvage, as well as Archie Comics Editor/Co-President Alex Segura, about the series’ Riverdale influence, its relationship dynamics, and their introduction of Sabrina Spellman to the company’s flagship title. The next issue, #701, is due out January 2, 2019.
Newsarama: #700 had a very Riverdale vibe with its take on drama, and some parallels to the “Pilot” of the TV show. Marguerite, Alex, did you want more of a Riverdale influence to the book going into it? If so what made you come to that decision?
Alex Segura: I think Nick did a great job of continuing some of the threads Mark left in the wake of his epic, acclaimed run, and maintaining a lot of the elements that made that run successful -- the character interplay, the drama and, of course, the comedy. What Nick did, very deftly, was inch things in another direction, by playing up the town mystery angle, which, yes, is akin to Riverdale but also its own thing.
Whenever you have a different voice step in and take on the role of guardian for these characters, there will be change, but in many ways the transition from Mark to Nick has been seamless, because the characters still feel very much like themselves, just dealing with a new situation.
Riverdale, of course, is something we think about a lot - the show is a phenomenon and people have responded well to that take on the characters. But we'd be giving comic readers short shrift if we just presented them with Riverdale Lite. We have a Riverdale series that will tell in-continuity, meaningful stories in the world of the show. We need the Archieseries to stand alone, while still evoking the elements of the show that work best. The comics are their own thing, but that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun in the same sandbox.
Nrama: This is going to be a great starting point for new fans. If Riverdale TV viewers wanted to jump on with this book what do you think they will enjoy the most?
Marguerite Sauvage: The characters, the sexiness, and the mysteries. I hope they'll also enjoy the comic book medium, the artwork and the story!
Nrama: #700 left fans on a pretty major cliffhanger. It was revealed that Archieis dating Sabrina. What can you tell us about that relationship moving forward?
Segura: Not much, because that story's being told in the comic and I don't want to spoil anything -- but I love Nick's handle on their dynamic, and if fans think it was just a one-off to get attention, they're sorely mistaken.
Nrama: There are a lot of mysteries established in Spencer’s debut issue. Including a mystery centering around Josie and the Pussycats. Are we going to see the band as main characters of the series?
Segura: One thing we wanted to do was have the main Archie title serve as the nexus point for all these great characters, including Sabrina, Josie, and their respective supporting casts, without raking too much screen time from the core five. So, yes, we'll see them more - and it'll be in an interesting, unexpected way.
Nrama: Marguerite, what art style did you want to bring to your Archie run?
Sauvage: Archie hired me for my style so I guess I'll keep this one. [Laughs]
Nrama: Who is your favorite character to draw?
Sauvage: I really can't choose. All are gorgeous characters with specifications that made them recognizable immediately but are also very playful. I'll have a blast illustrating them all!
Nrama: These are teenagers, fashion is important. Can you talk about the different clothing styles you are going to bring for the characters?
Sauvage: Oh, that will be a very pleasant getting inspired by everyday fashion, street fashion, designers, etc. I'll be like a kid in a candy shop!
Nrama:Are you a long time reader of Archie? When did you jump onto the franchise?
Sauvage:A rchie was not published in France when I was a child, it only recently got published over there thanks to the popularity of Riverdale. So I grew up with different references and discovered Archie's world when I started working in comics a few years ago. I was immediately seduced by the teen and YA spirit of the franchise mixed with the retro feeling.
Nrama:Betty and Veronica’s friendship has been painted in so many different shades throughout the decades. What are we going to see from their relationship in this run?
Segura: I think you'll see them, at least initially, united in trying to figure out not only what's happening to Archie - who's been acting strangely ever since they all reconvened in Riverdale - but also in figuring out their own new status quo. Nick doesn't define either of the girls based on their Archiedynamic, and really plays up how they work off each other, which is great to see, especially when brought to life by an artist of the caliber of Marguerite Sauvage. I think you'll see Betty and Veronica continue to step out as really strong, energetic individuals that are confident and willing to do whatever they have to when it comes to helping their friends, be it Archie, Jughead, or even Reggie. Nick knows these characters really well - he's not just a great writer, but he's a fan. So it's been a treat to see him bring that knowledge and use it so deftly when writing these icons. It feels fresh but timeless.
Nrama: What relationships can we expect to be challenged?
Segura: The core love triangle will be challenged in a really surprising way - one that will catch fans off guard because it feels like it must have happened before. We'll also see Jughead delve into some of the town's darkest corners and come back changed. Reggie, who is one of my favorite characters, will also learn a lot about his own past and his family, and that'll affect him in a major way.
Nrama: Toni and Cheryl have had a very popular relationship on Riverdale. Is this something we could see seep into the comics?
Segura: I think it's all on the table. The benefit of having a hit show is you can choose what elements you reflect in the comics. Part of the challenge is honoring the other takes in other media while still keeping the comics as their own, unique thing. So, if we do take a dynamic from the show, whether it's a plot element or relationship, it'll probably be reflected in a different way in the comics.
Nrama: Will we see any other LGBTQ relationships?
Segura: I think you'll continue to see Riverdale reflecting the real world, which has been the goal since Jon Goldwater stepped in a decade ago. This isn't a story told in the '50s - it should reflect modern society and it will.