Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
“I have a fleece that I wear that has an Archie patch on it, and everywhere I go people will stop me and say ‘Archie, I love Archie!’ I think the teen years are such a universal experience — people are either going through it, looking forward to going through it, not looking forward to going through it, went through hell in high school, loved their high school experience — and somehow Archie and his adventures capture all that. I went to an all-boys prep school and had a pretty good high school experience, I would say, but there’s always something about those stories where I always wished I went to Riverdale High. And I wish I was part of that kind of gang of friends. I don’t know why. But there was something really comforting about it. I also always thought there was something subversive about the brand. I always felt like there was stuff happening right to the right or the left of the panels, and I was always interested in what those stories were.”
– Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa,
on the enduring appeal of the Riverdale gang
Passings | Maine cartoonist Jeff Pert, best known for his cartoons and illustrations of lobsters and moose, died Friday on his way to the hospital with chest pains. He was 55. His cartoons adorned souvenir postcards and coffee cups, but he was also an active part of the local comics community in Brunswick, Maine, a regular at Casablanca Comics, and a participant in the Maine Comic Arts Festival. Pert created his first comic when he was in fifth grade and sold copies to local comic shops. “They probably gave us the money and then threw them in the garbage, but we were happy,” said his collaborator (and best friend) Jon Dumont. Pert was known for supporting other artists and even persuaded his local state representative, Maggie Daughtry, to start drawing her own comics: Daughtry knocked on Pert’s door when she was campaigning for office, and, she said, “Within an hour of meeting him, he literally changed my life.” When Daughtry told Pert that she had dreamed of being a cartoonist as a child, he encouraged her to start drawing again, which she did. [Portland Press Herald]
Archie Comics is in an unusual position among North American comics companies, as not only is a majority of its titles geared toward younger readers, but a majority of that audience is female.
Curious to learn how Archie maintains that readership, I reached out to President Mike Pellerito to discuss how he envisions the market for the company’s core kids line, and how he seeks to expand what it offers. Of course, the recent hiring of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa as chief creative officer and his potential impact on the line became central to the discussion.
In the comments section, please be sure to answer Pellerito’s question to Robot 6 readers.
Conventions | Organizers anticipate as many as 70,000 people will attend MegaCon, held Friday through Sunday at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, up from about 60,000 last year; that could translate to $23 million impact on the local economy, according to the Orlando Business Journal. Guests include Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Chuck Dixon, Adam Kubert, Greg Land, Stan Lee, Jimmy Palmiotti, George Perez, Herb Trimpe, Mark Waid and Skottie Young. However, the names drawing the most attention may be The Walking Dead stars David Morrissey, Danai Gurira and Steve Yeun. “We are the first convention in the U.S. to have both David Morrissey and Danai Gurira at the same time,” Jason Smith, MegaCon’s director of operations, told Florida Today. “The show is definitely a fan favorite of our attendees.” [MegaCon]
Welcome to Best of 7, where we talk about “The best in comics from the last seven days” — which could be anything from an exciting piece of news to a cool publisher’s announcement to an awesome comic that came out.
This week we focus in on some great new comics, including Veil and Afterlife with Archie, as well as the benefit auctions for Stan Sakai and his wife. Plus free comics! What’s better than that? So without further ado, let’s get to it …
Legal | As the dust begins to settle on the ruling last month by a federal judge that Arthur Conan Doyle’s first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, out march the analyses pointing out the buts. Chief among them, of course, is the possibility of appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, which contends the characters were effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States (the 10 stories published after Jan. 1, 1923, remain under copyright in this country until 2022).
However, Publishers Weekly notes that because U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo didn’t rule directly on that “novel” argument, the estate may be satisfied with the ambiguity of the decision, given that uncertain creators still may seek to license the characters to steer clear of any trouble. Estate lawyer Benjamin Allison also insists that the Sherlock Holmes trademarks remain unaffected, an assertion that puzzles author and scholar Leslie Klinger, who brought the lawsuit. “There is a very good reason why the Estate did not assert trademark protection: The Estate does not own any trademarks,” he told PW. “They have applied for them, and there will be substantial opposition.” There’s more at NPR, The Independent and The Atlantic. [Publishers Weekly]
Few have a better perspective on the making of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark than playwright Glen Berger. He spent six years co-writing the script and has now penned a tell-all memoir about the tumultuous experience, Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History.
As noted on the book’s back cover, one scene — in which “Green Goblin pushes a Steinway off a skyscraper only to be sent to his own death because he didn’t realize he was attached to the piano by Spider-Man’s webbing” — earned him the job, but it also would ultimately lead to the dismissal of director and co-writer Julie Taymor.
We cover a great deal of ground in this interview, including a brief discussion of (as he mentions in the book) his reaction to sharing a co-writer credit for the play with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who worked on the project for just two months. It was interesting to get Berger’s perspective, particularly when comparing what it’s like to develop for theater as opposed to television. I’m also curious to see what musical he’s developing for Warner Bros.
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]
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.
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.”
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]