In October of 2013, Archie Comics shocked the world with the launch of Afterlife with Archie, a series that featured the classic Riverdale High cast of characters you know and love from Archie Double Digests—only with zombies. Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife became an overnight sensation, both for the sheer audacity of its concept and the fact that it was a genuinely great (and genuinely scary) comic book. Last October, Archie launched a companion series, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a full-on occult horror story set in the ’60s.
Both series have been missing from stands for some time—Afterlife‘s last issue was in December, and Sabrina hasn’t come out with its second issue yet—but Archie is planning to have both series return in a big way. This spring, the publisher will release Afterlife with Archie #8 and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 under a dedicated Archie Horror imprint—and they’ll be joined by a third.
“It’s happening organically already,” says Archie Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. “You launch one book, it is what it is. You launch a companion book and you think, ‘These seem to be speaking to each other’ … In-house we started referring to these books as the Archie Horror books. We wanted to make it official, and when it started to look like Afterlife #8 and Sabrina #2 were going to be released around the same time, why don’t we formalize something that is already happening, which is the imprint.”
It’s certainly a gesture of commitment in light of the fact that it has been five months since Sabrina #1 was released—something that Aguirre-Sacasa is extremely apologetic about.
“I could give you a dozen excuses, and none of them are really good. We really really wanted to launch the book at New York Comic-Con because it was close to Halloween. In retrospect, we should’ve delayed the launch to get a few issues in the can,” says Aguirre-Sacasa. “there’s no excuse, and there will never be a delay like there was been between Sabrina 1 and 2. Like, never. We are very, very lucky that we have an incredibly passionate and understanding fan base that is eager for the book.”
According to Aguirre-Sacasa, the fact that Afterlife and Sabrina took off among fans and critics alike was a big (yet pleasant) surprise to everyone involved.
“In retrospect, the idea of mixing teenagers and horror is like, the biggest no brainer on the planet!” says Aguirre-Sacasa. “It’s weird because, in Afterlife there are dark, dark things—but it’s also funny! Its tongue is planted firmly in its cheek. But with Sabrina, it’s really, really dark, and only getting darker. We’re halfway through issue three now, and I would say the darkest comic book I’ve written, and the weirdest comic book I’ve written.”
As for that mysterious third horror series, the publisher isn’t quite ready to reveal what it is just yet. But Aguirre-Sacasa was able to give us a pretty sizable set of clues.
“I can tell you that it will be centered around a major Archie character,” teases Aguirre-Sacasa. “She has appeared in one of our books before. And [the book] will be in a genre we have not explored or even hinted at in Sabrina—in Afterlife, we’ve only hinted at it a tiny, tiny bit. And it will be set in the present.”
Until the big reveal, Archie Horror fans have two new comics to look forward to. Afterlife with Archie #8—an homage to The Shining that will have its characters trapped in a hotel full of ghosts—willl be released under the new imprint May 6, 2015. Meanwhile, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 —featuring the terrifying Madame Satan—will be released on April 15, 2015.
“[The Archie Horror books] have prompted the best work of our careers,” says Aguirre-Sacasa. “To take these iconic characters and reimagine them and place them in situations they’ve never been in before—it’s a blast, and I’m glad people are responding to it.”
Courtesy of Archie Comics, here’s a set of exclusive preview pages from Afterlife with Archie #8 and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2.
This post has been revised to reflect that Afterlife with Archie #7 was released in December of 2014, not February 2015. We apologize for the error.