By Will Robinson
July 22, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Barry King/FilmMagic; John Lamparski/WireImage
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Fans have never seen Archie like this: In midseason, The CW will premiere Riverdale, a surprising and subversive take on Archie (KJ Apa), Betty (Lili Reinhart), Veronica (Camila Mendes), and their friends, exploring the surrealism of small town life — the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome façade.

Executive producers Jon Goldwater and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa joined EW critic Jeff Jensen at Con-X to discuss the forthcoming show. They promised it will have shades of the original comic — the pilot makes Archie pick between Betty and Veronica for a dance date — but will add a dash of darkness and mystery.

“There is a mystery element to Riverdale that is a little bit Pretty Little Liars and a little bit like a teenage Twin Peaks,” Aguirre-Sacasa said, echoing Jughead himself Cole Sprouse. “As many shadows and darknesses the pilot has, there’s comedy and lightness. That’s really what it is: It’s both.”

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Aguirre-Sacasa joined the Archie braintrust full time by becoming the Chief Creative Officer in 2014 after creating Afterlife with Archie, where our favorite redhead takes on zombies. He previously worked with Marvel, and on Fox’s Glee and Showtime’s Big Love.

Goldwater followed in the footsteps of his father, Archie Comics founder John L. Goldwater, by becoming CEO in 2009. He sought to liven up the brand and make it more relevant for a new generation of fans. They made a big splash by adding the series’ first gay character, Kevin Keller, in 2010. It immediately changed the fortunes of the brand.

“It was really a watershed moment for the company,” Goldwater said. “Kevin was accepted immediately by the fans. …That was really the beginning of the rebirth of the company.”

Con-X is a four-day getaway in Embarcadero Marina Park North in downtown San Diego. Made for all fans, Con-X allows anyone to get a taste of Comic-Con for free with panels, Q&A, trivia, music, screenings and more. Con-X runs Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. PT.

Entertainment Weekly is on the scene at San Diego Comic-Con. Go inside with all our coverage, available here.

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