In a story in today’s New York Times, an article featuring Archie Comics’ new chief creative officer, playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, had a lot to say about the new direction of Archie Comics. One thing you probably never expected: an Archie comic that takes two characters from the Archie universe and puts them in an incestuous relationship. The characters are siblings Cheryl and Jason Blossom. Now, the entertainment industry is notorious for dropping a provocative nugget and seeing who will take the bait. Dig a bit deeper to the actual comics series referred to and this pairing of siblings suggests more than it outright says. The series in question is Afterlife with Archie, which is Archie Comics’ foray in zombie comics. And the incest, well, perhaps an ambiguous suggestion. So, a provocative nugget.
Whatever happened to enjoying the witty banter between the Archie kids? Look back, and you’ll find some really funny and well-paced humor in Archie comics from yesteryear. Sure, changes need to be made but just how far do you want to go? Look at it this way, you can only stretch something so far before you lose the magic of the original. You can’t, for instance, turn The Tonight Show into the Dr. Phil Show. Fans would be outraged. In comics, there’s always this feeling that no one is really reading, no real profit is being made, until you have a big event. In my view, Archie and the gang have all the potential to be a home for some very funny stuff. It would take a dedicated stable of talented writers and a clear mission. That’s a worthy direction to go.
Another thing about comics, much like children, which comics ignores more than it should, it is full of elasticity. Of course, the comics industry can be downright brutal to its offspring. They can trash it, leave out in the cold for dead, and then throw it up in the air and start all over again.
The New York Times article ends with another teaser: expect an Archie Comics story by Lena Dunham in 2015. Now, that could be a step in the right direction.