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Archie Comics’ Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Talks RIVERDALE & Afterlife with Archie at NYCC

Archie Comics had a great showing at New York Comic Con—and with good reason. It feels like every time we turn around the publisher’s announcing television adaptations, new titles, and rebooted takes on old favorite characters. Which is why we were thrilled we had the opportunity to chat with Archie’s Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, to hear straight from the source about everything going on. Read on to hear more about the success of Afterlife with Archie, find out more about the CW’s new Riverdale show, what he thinks of the Archie musical coming to Broadway, and more.

Nerdist: How do you feel about the new Adam McKay Broadway adaptation of Archie? Are you excited to see it go to stage?

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Absolutely. We’ve been talking about trying to do an Archie musical for years. I would say the first conversation I ever had with John Goldwater, the head of Archie, was about the musical, or trying to do a musical. Adam McKay has a huge passion for these characters and he actually kind of reached out to us and we think that the pairing of Archie with Adam McKay with Funny or Die. It’s actually going to be called Funny or Die Presents: Archie the Musical. It’s going to be really terrific. I think it’s going to honor the characters while also, obviously, being very very funny. It’s going to be a musical comedy.

N: I was wondering with all of these other adaptations that are happening, the TV shows, are you hoping to see some of the horror elements you’ve written in Afterlife with Archie and in your film work come into all of it? I keep hearing ‘subversive’ when people mention Riverdale.

RAS: Right. Right. If you took Afterlife with Archie and subtracted the zombies and subtracted the HP Lovecraft that is sort of what the tone of Riverdale is. It is a little subversive; it is a little darker and deeper. It’s still very emotional. It’s still got humor in it. It has Josie and the Pussycats, and music in it as well. I would say that it’s overall tone is a little bit weirder than you might think.


N: I have to ask, what is it like to be named the CCO over the characters that you read as a kid? Did you ever think then that this is where you’d be now?

RAS: Never in a million years is the answer. I always had been a comic book fan, and I always loved the Archie characters, but no I did not for a second think that I would ever get to write these characters, let alone help work with the company that’s behind it. It really is a dream come true.

N: That’s fantastic. Where you guys are is a bit Riverdale-like—I’ve been to the office. I feel like that part of New York is a very small town.

RAS: It’s a very small town.


N: There’s something almost Pleasantville-like about it in the comic books. Can you talk a little bit about how you guys are taking it from the page to the screen?

RAS: What we’re hoping and what would be my dream come true is… The studio that’s producing the pilot, the show, is Warner Brothers, and I think it would be amazing to do a show on the back lot at Warner’s. They have a street that’s like a small town main street and a small town residential street. If you’ve ever seen the show Pretty Little Liars that show is shot on the Warner Brothers back lot. I think it would be great for Riverdale to be on the back lot as well, to give it that feel of out of time and universal in timelessness.

N: And what are you reading and looking forward to that’s not your imprint right now?

RAS: That’s a really good question, what am I reading?

N: TV, everything.

RAS: I read — I wish I read more. I read a lot of the Image books. I read Scott Snyder‘s Batman, I read Greg Cox, Super Action Comics I think he’s writing. I read Dan Slott‘s Spider-Man always, I read anything Mark Wade writes; I read anything Grant Morrison writes, same with Neil Gaiman. I’ve been consulting on the CBS show Supergirl. Every week we get a huge box of DC comics so I find myself reading all the DC comics as well.

N: Amazing.

RAS: Yeah.

N: With Afterlife with Archie, I have a hard time even picturing it in my brain even though I’ve seen it and I’ve read it, because they’re not zombies to me.


RAS: Right.

N: How did you come up with that? I know it sound like you pitched it when you were still play-writing. It’s just so different.

RAS: I have to give credit to the artist Francesco Francavilla. He is a huge horror and pulp fanatic, and he did a variant cover for Life with Archie the magazine comic book that had zombies on the cover. It had Archie recoiling from Jughead, Betty, and Veronica zombies, and I picked up that comic book thinking, “Oh this is a zombie comic book! How brilliant!” It was just a variant cover. I was having breakfast with John Goldwater and his son, Jesse, and I was like, “This should be a comic book.” And then we all kind of looked at each other and were like, “Let’s make this a comic book.” It started as simply as that.

N: That’s so much fun.

RAS: Yeah.

N: I saw the trailer that was released at Comic-Con for Afterlife with Archie. Are we going to hopefully see some more trailers soon?

RAS: I love those trailers. I think they’re really really fun. Yeah we may. I think Dark Circle put out a ‘Black Hood’ trailer. We don’t do them for every issue, but I think it’s something that we could do again.


Riverdale is in development at CW. We here at Nerdist are pretty excited to see the world of Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica come to life, and can’t wait to see what they do with the show. Likewise, Afterlife with Archie is being worked on, but no release date has been announced as of yet. Tell us which you’re more looking forward to in the comments below.

Image Credit: YouTube; Archie Comics

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