Dawn of the undead redhead

Archie Comics are entering the world of the macabre.

Carolyn Grant

Have you heard the news? Archie Comics are entering the world of the macabre. Yes, the red-headed boy next door will be starring in a new comic horror story. “Afterlife with Archie” launched this week. It will be sold only in comic book stores — because they want a mature audience only?

The monthly series promises “dark, ominous illustrations” and “believable horror”. But the characters will maintain all the qualities of previous Archie comics.

First published in 1941, Archie follows the life of Archie Andrews as he lives the idyllic teenage life in mythical Riverdale. Torn between two beautiful girls — the wholesome Betty and the rich, glamourous Veronica — and surrounded by friends like Jughead and Moose, and rivals like Reggie, Archie was a cheerful soap opera, eagerly consumed by teens.

Archie characters have been used in different situations before. They have been placed in ‘alternate universes’ in which Archie and the gang were secret agents and superheroes. Archie was known as The Man from Riverdale in the secret agent stories and Pureheart the Powerful in the superhero comics. Archie Comics also launched a dual married Archie, in which fans can follow Archie married to Veronica in one story, and married to Betty in another. Archie and the gang have also been written in Christian-themed comics, in which they were used to present “parables”.

Archie and the gang were updated to a more realistic style in 2007 — gone was the checkerboard on the side of Archie’s head.

But still it’s a big jump from more realistic drawing to Archie in the dark, dark world of horror. From Pureheart the Powerful to Arch-pocalypse. Yes, that’s right an Arch-pocalypse!

This, from the Archie Comics website: “A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this brand-new, spine-tingling ongoing series – but be warned, kiddies, this one’s not for the faint of heart! For TEEN+ readers.”

So I get that this opens up a lot of possibilities for the characters. I mean, we all know Jughead has an insatiable appetite for hamburgers, so once he gets an insatiable appetite for human flesh as Zombie Jughead, the sky is the limit.

Now I haven’t found Archie funny in years. In fact, I don’t even know that I found Archie funny when I was nine. But horror? Really? Is that what today’s teens want to see? Betty and Veronica will no doubt be scantily clad, although we are likely to be spared the sight of them twerking (oh the horror!) — because how do you draw twerking? But evil will abound, and if they are actually rating it for teens and older, I think it will be plenty horrible.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t need characters from my happy childhood bleeding and writhing in agony in a comic book. I get that there is a whole dark comic industry out there. Horror comics have been published as long as Archie comics. If you are so inclined there is a wide selection of gruesome graphic novels and comics available. Leave Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Moose, Midge and Reggie alone. Let them live their sunny, magical teenage lives in Riverdale, wherever it may be. I don’t want to see them in agony in a horror comic book.

In the immortal words of Comic Book Guy, “Worst idea ever.”

Carolyn Grant is the Editor of the Kimberley Daily Bulletin