First we went to the Afterlife with Archie.
Then came The Chilling Adventures of Sabina, the Teenage Witch.
We all felt The Hunger with Jughead.
Now, I’m guessing we’re about to bite off more than we can chew with Archie Comics’ newest Horror-branded title, Vampironica. Sister-brother writing team Meg and Greg Smallwood sat down with Comicosity to talk about what this version of Riverdale has in store for us, how Greg’s double duty on art works for the duo, and just where Betty is in all of this madness.
Matt Santori: It’s really uncanny how popular the Archie Horror titles have become. What do you think is the draw for readers (and for you!) to this kind of subversion — and I mean that in the best way — of the more classic Americana of Archie Comics?
Megan Smallwood: I think the best answer is that it’s fun, plain and simple! For myself, and I think people in general, it’s fun to imagine what it would be like to walk in someone else’s shoes.
It’s no different when it comes to your favorite characters. Once a character’s personality has been established, or very well-established in the case of the Archie universe, you can then experiment with those characters in alternate universes.
The success of the Archie Horror universe is a testament to how familiar fans are with these characters.
MS: What elements of classic Veronica are you looking at to drive this version’s character, and how specifically are you looking to diverge?
Greg Smallwood: As a character in the world of Archie, Veronica is viewed through an objective lens. With Vampironica, we’re telling the story through Veronica’s perspective so you can expect to see the characters of Riverdale through her unique lens.
We’re also revealing a lot more facets of her personality than we’re used to getting as readers. We’re pulling back the curtain on Veronica as she undergoes the biggest changes and obstacles she’s ever faced.
MS: In terms of the writing process, how are you two working together, particularly since one of you is also the full pencil/ink/colors on the book as well?
Meg: Greg and I talked through the Vampironica story again and again before we ever began writing it. It was essential to us to make sure that all the characters were staying true to their personalities.
One of the best parts of co-writing with my brother is that I have an opportunity to be fully involved from creation to final pages. He asks me questions during his drawing process to make sure every little detail about this story is not overlooked, right down to what the characters are wearing.
MS: Inasmuch as a book like Vampironica is a subversion of the classic Archie narrative, I imagine that it also takes a turn from classic vampire stories as well?
Are you looking to any other stories like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Blade as forerunners, and how are you adapting the idea of the vampire for this title specifically?
Meg: Greg and I definitely created a set of rules and characteristics for the vampires in Vampironica, but it’s a mix. We started back at the beginning, with Dracula, and built from there.
“Creepy” is probably the best definition of what we went with in the end.
MS: Where Veronica goes, Betty goes, normally. Does Riverdale’s other leading lady have a role in the book opposite your vampire protagonist? Or any other of her friends?
Meg: Of course! Who would Veronica be without her friends?
I think it goes without saying that Betty will be in Vampironica, but to what extent and in what capacity — readers will just have to find out!
MS: Greg, the colors we’ve seen in early previews for the book are really distinct, almost a cast of red over everything in parts. How are you thinking about the palette and what it lends to the story as a whole?
Greg: Color is just another part of the process that helps establish the overall tone of the story.
Line art conveys the essential elements but color can make you feel like you’re there in the scene. As for the preview pages, it’s a mix of colors that shifts as the sequence moves forward — from warm orange hues to cool blues and purples. As the danger and suspense builds, red invades the cool colors to create a contrast of discomfort.
It’s minor stuff but it does have a subliminal effect.
MS: Any final thoughts or special teases for the Comicosity audience?
Meg: Get ready for Vampironica to slay with more than fashion!
NEW ONGOING SERIES! When Veronica is bitten by a centuries-old vampire, her thirst for blood threatens to turn Riverdale into a haven for the undead. Will she put an end to the vampire threat or give in to her blood lust?
Script: Greg and Megan Smallwood
Art: Greg Smallwood, Jack Morelli
CVR A Reg: Greg Smallwood
CVR B Var: Francesco Francavilla
CVR C Var: Audrey Mok
CVR D Var: Djibril Morrissette-Phan
CVR E Var: Marguerite Sauvage
On Sale Date: 3/14
32-page, full color comic