Archie Andrews and friends are now firmly back in the pop-culture zeitgeist, thanks to the smash success of The CW’s Riverdale. As that show’s title indicates, Archie’s friends have mostly limited their adventures to their all-American hometown of Riverdale. The Archies changes up that formula. The new comic — from writers Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg, and artist Joe Eisma — sees Archie & Co. form a band and hit the road. Their grand tour takes them not only to far-flung locales like New Jersey, it also brings them face-to-face with some real-life rock musicians.
The Archies #2, which is available this week, features the Riverdale crew coming face-to-face with none other than CHVRCHES, the Scottish synth-pop band fronted by Lauren Mayberry. The band shows up at the end of the issue and has a bigger role in next month’s issue #3. EW spoke with Segura, Rosenberg, and Eisma about the band’s cameo, the general aesthetic of The Archies, and more. Check that out below, along with an exclusive preview of issue #2 and a look at upcoming covers that tease both CHVRCHES and The Monkees. Pre-order The Archies #2 here.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Archie and his friends are usually so rooted in Riverdale. What do you like about taking them out on tour to places around the country?
ALEX SEGURA: Riverdale is such a big part of the characters that, by taking them out of their hometown, you almost put a bigger spot on the town and their stories. It’s great to show the kids in other places and interacting with not only other musicians, but other towns, and issue #2 is a great example of that. It’s the build-up to the big crossovers with other bands and zooms in on the woes bands suffer through when out on the road — lodging, frayed relationships, and just trying to survive so you can do this thing you love. It makes for a fun fish-out-of-water story.
MATTHEW ROSENBERG: So many of the fans have spent so much time with all of these characters, and that’s amazing. I have too. But our goal is to shake things up a little, take them out of their comfort zone. They are visiting new towns, sleeping on strangers’ floors, playing in weird venues, and living out of a dirty van. When those daily comforts go away and those guards come down, hopefully we will see some new sides to these characters we all know and love.
JOE EISMA: It’s kind of liberating to take them out of Riverdale — they’re going to new places, and not always hanging around the usual haunts. Drawing the dive bars and indie coffee shops the band ends up at is a nice change of pace from drawing Pop’s and Riverdale High.
This is obviously a series centered around music. How do you incorporate music into the comic-book format?
SEGURA: Comics are visual, so the challenge is creating enough visual cues that can try to recreate the auditory sensation of music — so, you have to kind of fake it, and hope that you present the music in such a way that a reader can FEEL the music. A lot of that comes through in the art, and we’re so lucky to have Joe on the book because he gets it, and he knows how to change the layout and visual look of certain scenes so you really feel the music being played. The colors and letters, by Matt Herms and Jack Morelli, respectively, are also a big factor.
ROSENBERG: So much of comics relies on some mild forms of synesthesia — substituting one sense for another. That’s part of what is fun about them — trying to convey a sense of speed, or space, or the passage of time. And sound has always been something comic creators have worked hard to recreate or fake. We have the challenge of not just invoking specific sounds, but the energy and emotional feeling that comes along with them. It’s a pretty fun challenge and one that often falls pretty heavily on Joe’s shoulders. But he does an amazing job of filling these pages with energy and emotion and a recognizable physicality. When you turn the page and see The Archies or CHVRCHES or whoever rocking out on a big splash page, personally I think Joe’s nailed it.
EISMA: That is probably the biggest challenge for me visually, to take something that is an auditory medium and depict it in a two-dimensional representation. I’ll experiment with page layout and really try and inject some of the manic energy that playing music creates in people.
This issue features an appearance from none other than CHRVCHES. What were you aiming for with the musician cameos? What can you tease about their role in the book?
SEGURA: When CHVRCHES agreed to cameo, we’d initially locked in issue #3 as their moment, but it just made perfect sense to have them cameo in #2, around the end, setting the stage — no pun intended — for the big event in #3. In #2, we see them briefly, but it’s a major turning point for the issue and the series, and lays the foundation for what’s to come.
ROSENBERG: I just want the cameos to be awesome.
EISMA: When Alex told me we were making The Archies an ongoing series, the hook of having real bands is what made me realize this book would stand out. We did the one shot and told a great story of a band coming together, and now I think having the musician cameos is not only a nice hook but allows us to really enrich the characters as they evolve through the series.