This week the first Archie Horror crossover occurs with Jughead: The Hunger vs. Vampironica. This comes six years after the launch of Archie Comics' horror line with Afterlife with Archie, which has now grown to include Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Blossoms 666, and the individual Jughead: the Hunger and Vampironica titles.
As the Archie Horror line enters this new era, Newsarama spoke with Archie Comics' co-President Alex Segura about the birth of Archie’s horror books, what we can expect from the line going forward, what other genres the company wants to explore, and an update on fan-favorite Afterlife with Archie that has been on an extended hiatus since 2016.
Newsarama: Alex, what made Archie want to start their horror line to begin with?
Alex Segura: It all started with Afterlife with Archie - that book was a game-changer for us.
I don’t think, when that series came together, springing from the minds of CCO Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla, CEO Jon Goldwater, and Jesse Goldwater, we envisioned an entire horror line. I think we were starting to realize - especially thanks to Francesco’s amazing visual reimagining of the characters - that Archie and his friends were supremely flexible. We could see him as a married adult. We could kill him off. We could have him face a horde of zombies and they'd still be Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica.
That really opened the doors for us as a company, and was a testament to the progressive and fearless attitude Jon Goldwater brought and continues to bring to the company. But to answer your question, we were taking it a book at a time, and when Afterlife came to be it was as one well-crafted, curated series. When Roberto decided to give Sabrina a more horror-centric spin with Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, that’s when, I think, we started to internally consider branding it. So, it was midway through Afterlife’s current run that we started using the Archie Horror logo and set it apart from the main Archie line, so retailers, fans, and everyone could easily identify them.
Nrama: Why do you feel horror works so well with these characters?
Segura: They’re icons. People know them. There’s a strong familiarity and connection there, so the characters have stakes attached right out of the box. With a lot of horror stories, you start at zero - you need to not only meet the characters, but come to care for them. We have an advantage because that’s built-in, so you’re left to experience the WTF aspect of it. So, if done well - and we’ve been lucky enough to have a good run of titles - it feeds the fan side and also creates a compelling horror story.
Nrama: Why has there been a delay with Afterlife of Archie? Is this series going to continue?
Segura: Well, not to be glib, but Roberto is extremely busy running two shows and a series pilot, so the bulk of his time is spent crafting that, and it’s a very important moment for the company in terms of entertainment. But I know Afterlife and Sabrina are both dear to him, and I know Francesco and Robert Hack are eager to conclude the stories they started, so it’s a matter of the stars lining up in a way that they can come together again.
That said, Archie Horror is moving forward and continues to be a vibrant and unpredictable imprint, one that we’re constantly looking to build on and expand - as you can see with Jughead: The Hunger, Vampironica, Blossoms 666, and more.
So, while I’d love to say those stories are going to be completed soon, I can’t right now. But, believe me, we will scream it from the rooftops once issues are ready to be solicited and we can let our fans know. We realize and appreciate how much they love those takes on our characters.
Nrama: What can you tease about whats coming up in Jughead: The Hunger?
Segura: Frank Tieri, Joe Eisma, and the Kennedy Bros have crafted a memorable finale to the first “season,” so I don’t want to spoil anything. But issue #13 serves as a prelude to our big summer event, Jughead: The Hunger vs. Vampironica, which brings the two characters together for the first time. And, I can say, if you’re a fan of the imprint and the tone, you should check it out - it’s loaded with surprises and is not what you expect.
Nrama: At what point in the Archie Horror timeline will the Jughead: The Hunger vs. Vampironica crossover take place? Since Veronica isn’t a vampire anymore at the end of her limited series.
Segura: That beat is resolved pretty quickly in the pages of the crossover, but I don’t want to spoil it. But, to your point, the end of the first series will not be ignored.
Nrama: What’s Betty and Veronica’s dynamic going to be like in this book as Betty is a monster hunter in The Hunger series? Will she want to hunt Vampironica down?
Segura: Betty will be conflicted, of course. She’s already seen her best friend turned into a monster in the main Jughead: The Hunger series, so to see it again, in another, horrific way, will have a strong effect on her.
Nrama: Are there more horror titles in the pipeline for Archie?
Segura: Yes - we have a launch or two planned for later this year, but I can’t say more than that.
Nrama: Would you like to explore more of the Archie Horror titles in other mediums (Animation, TV, movies, etc.)?
Segura: I think those titles are ripe for adaptation in other media, for sure. I know our CEO, Jon Goldwater, and the Archie Studios team are working every angle possible to make things like that happen. But it’s a question of time and the right project. But yes, it’s something we’d like to see.
Nrama: Archie has found lots of success with their Elseworlds-style stories, especially with their horror line. Are there other genres you would like to explore with this format?
Segura: I think we’re realizing that there’s a strong, hungry audience for “alternative” takes on Archie, whether it’s humor/sci-fi like Jughead’s Time Police, crazy crossovers like Archie Meets Batman ’66, or horror, as we’ve discussed. So we definitely want to continue to explore that, in as many ways as we think work.
Archie: 1941 was a fantastic work of historical fiction, for example, and The Married Life: 10th Anniversary will revisit one of our most iconic storylines.
We’ll continue to expand and build on the Archie Horror line, because there’s a strong, meaningful audience there, but we also want to be flexible in terms of the kinds of stories we tell. I’d love to see a dark sci-fi Archie take, or something with more of a crime/noir bent, which is in my creative wheelhouse. But it really depends on the talent, the pitch, and the timing, and those are things we always strive to be mindful of.