It’s quite a world we live in these days. You can watch movies on the internet, there are places that serve shawarma at three in the morning, and the best horror comic on the stands this year was published by Archie comics. Afterlife With Archie was a surprise for everyone. When it was announced I thought everything about Afterlife With Archie felt like a lazy bid to jump on the waning zombie fad. (Maybe if I keep calling it that we’ll move on to something else soon like mummies or werewolves or those Japanese umbrella-eye things) Surprisingly not only was Afterlife With Archie not a lazy comic, it was the most earnest horror comic that has come out in a long time. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script eschewed any too-cool-for-school self-aware horror jokes and instead gives us a straightforward horror story, all the more powerful for how it stuck to convention. The pencils of Francesco Francavilla certainly didn’t hurt either.
While it may have been a surprise to many comic readers, it definitely isn’t to those that have been paying attention to what Archie comics have been doing. While you weren’t paying attention they have become possibly the most progressive of major American comic companies, being bold enough to have the openly gay character Kevin Keller in an all-ages book and they even had him get married in the pages of Life With Archie, months before the much more hyped gay wedding between Northstar and Kyle Jinadu in the pages of Astonishing X-men. They also adopted digital distribution for all of their titles on the day of release well before either of the big two. Archie has displayed an earnest move to keep up with the times both from a business perspective as well as a moral one. It’s not surprising that they’d work to expand their market line as well with Afterlife With Archie being their first ‘teens and up’ book as well as their first made exclusively for the direct market. (as opposed to the news stand spaces they usually get) The comic was a success, trading off on both its ‘zombie’ and ‘really well made’ gimmicks. Of course they’d decide to expand with the character that made the most sense: Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Read the rest of this entry »