Afterlife With Archie
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Conventions | Declaring this weekend’s inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, England, a success, organizers have already announced the dates for next year’s event: Oct. 17-19. “Our first year has been everything we could have wished for,” said festival director Julie Tait. “There was a huge buzz right through Kendal – from The Brewery Arts Centre right to The Box on Wildman Street, as well as at the shopping centre and the library. The town has really got involved and there has been art work on every street. It feels like the weekend has involved everyone – from adults following their passion for Viz humour to kids learning how Peppa Pig was created.” This year’s festival featured guests ranging from Charlie Adlard and Ed Brubaker to David Lloyd and Trina Robbins. [Cumbria Live]
Afterlife with Archie started out for me with a couple of potential negatives: I’m not a fan of horror comics, and I firmly believe the zombie subgenre has played itself out. But if there’s one factor that could make me enjoy a zombie comic, it’s the art of Francesco Francavilla.
The ongoing series, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, marks a significant departure for Archie Comics, in large part because it’s the publisher’s first direct market-only release. One has to wonder how much this will benefit the publisher, whose audience is found primarily outside of specialty stores, and whether its potential success will lead to more direct market-only titles.
But enough about the business aspects of Life with Archie; let’s focus on what makes its debut issue such a must-read. As much as the Archie line has redefined itself in recent years (the marriage storyline/titles, the introduction of gay character Kevin Keller, etc.), the use of an artist like Francavilla represents another leap. I count him among my favorite current artists for much the same reason I rave about Gabriel Hardman; When reading a story by either creator, the experience is like having a film playing in my head.
“I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, although I certainly know what that is. And what I love about that concept is as much as it’s a zombie story, it’s also Pride and Prejudice. It’s the exact same thing with Afterlife: As much as this is a hardcore horror zombie book, it’s still an Archie book. Who is Archie going to take to the Halloween dance? Betty or Veronica? Why does the zombie apocalypse start? Because Sabrina the Teenaged Witch messed up a spell, which she is constantly doing in the comic book. Who but Reggie would be the guy who runs over Hot Dog? If anybody has a dark secret like ‘I killed Hot Dog!’ it’s going to be Reggie Mantle.”
– writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, talking with Vulture about Afterlife With Archie, which debuts today. Deadline also has the exclusive New York Comic Con trailer for the series, which is illustrated by Francesco Francavilla
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
The new zombie Archie serie, Afterlife With Archie will debut Oct. 9, the day before NYCC kicks off, and the Archie folks are inviting everyone to celebrate by dressing up as a zombified version of their favorite character. Cosplay as zombie Jughead, Sabrina, even Katy Keene, and stop by the Archie Comics booth (#1936) during the convention for a copy of the comic with a special, cosplayer-exclusive cover by Robert Hack. You can also enter for a chance to win one of three grand prizes: a year’s worth of Archie comics.
Announced earlier this year, Afterlife With Archie will be penned by former Glee writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francavilla.
It’s rare that you see an artist do a continuous long run on a monthly comic series these days. Mark Bagley, Charlie Adlard and John Romita Jr. are among the relative few, and even their tenures are sometimes broken up by extra-sized issues or a biweekly shipping schedule. But joining those ranks of the most prodigious artists in comics is a fairly new face: Francesco Francavilla.
The Italian artist has been steadily working up through the ranks in the comic industry since his debut in 2006, but 2012 was his breakthrough year, as he won an Eisner Award for his covers, saw his creator-owned series Black Beetle start at Dark Horse and drew two arcs of Captain America and a fill-in issue of DC’s Swamp Thing. But in October, things are getting crazy, with Francavilla working simultaneously as the artist on three series — Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Archie’s Afterlife with Archie at Archie, and his own Black Beetle: Necrologue at Dark Horse.
This has already been a blockbuster year for Francavilla, with seven complete issues already released — Black Beetle #1-4, Batwoman #21, Hawkeye #10 and #12 — plus an astonishing 46 covers for various publishers. Forty-six!
In an interview earlier this year with ROBOT 6, he commented on his amazing flurry of work by dubbing it “Creative ADD,” and even admitting he sometimes forgets what he does due to the sheer volume.
“The other day I was flipping through Previews and I saw a cover I forgot I did!” The artist told Tim O’Shea. “Then I went to check if I forgot to invoice it too!”
James Brown ain’t got nothing on Francesco Francavilla.
The Hollywood Reporter has debuted the trailer for Afterlife With Archie, the upcoming Archie Comics series by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. It will be screened Saturday at Comic-Con International during the “Archie Comics: The Hottest Publisher in the Industry” panel.
Launching Oct. 9, the comic begins with Jughead’s dog Hot Dog being run over by a car, leading him to convince Sabrina the Teenage Witch to resurrect the pooch. What comes back from the dead bites Jughead, infecting him with a virus — and on the night of the Riverdale Halloween dance, the zombie apocalypse begins.
“Tonally, I think we’re going for horror laced with an undercurrent of black comedy,” Aguirre-Sacasa told Comic Book Resources when the project was announced. “Like the first and second Evil Dead movies, or the original American Werewolf in London. The comedy will hopefully heighten the horror, and vice-versa.”