Writer Alex de Campi joined Jonah Weiland during New York Comic Con in the CBR Speakeasy to talk about the unlikeliest of crossovers, Archie Comics & Dark Horse Comics’ “Archie Meets Predator.” The writer talks about the upcoming miniseries that pits two very different properties against each other, how Archie Comics is in the midst of a storytelling renaissance and how that helped her non-traditional story gain acceptance. She also discusses her love of Grindhouse cinema and how it led to the creation of her “Grindhouse” series from Dark Horse.
On the unexpected “Archie Meets Predator” series and how it ties into Archie Comics continuity:
Well, we are calling it “AvP,” it’s just a different A than they normally do. People new to what I’m sort of calling the Archie renaissance — Archie has a couple of different ways of presenting its characters. There’s the classic — several different continuities at once, much like “Superman” has several different continuities I suppose. There’s the normal “Life with Archie” and Married Life with Archie, where it’s the adventures of Archie the teenage boy. The two girls who are interested in him, the sort of wealthy socialite Veronica, and the blond girl next door, Betty, and their friends, Jughead, the hamburger-eating machine, Reggie, the frat boy bro and so forth. And then there is the Archie horrorverse. The Archie horrorverse is something new, and it’s incredibly well written. I know you are probably like “Why would I want to read ‘Afterlife with Archie?’” It’s fabulous. I’m not saying this just because I write an Archie book. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t tell you to buy it. These books are dark. D-A-R-K, dark. And you know when you open them that they are horror books because “Afterlife” is drawn by [Francesco] Francavilla. As soon as you open it, its just dripping with menace, and darkness, and twistedness. I mean “[Chilling Adventures of] Sabrina’s” got Satan worshipping in it. They’re not pulling any punches. It’s not in anyway a light teen book. It is straight horror.
Now “Archie Versus Predator” is going to be somewhere in the middle, because it’s being drawn by Fernando Ruiz, who is one of the legendary Archie artists of the modern age. I like to say about Fernando, he has this beautiful line that looks so easy, and if you know anything about art, you know how hard it is to make a line look that easy. And he’s got wonderful character expressions in the sense of lightness, and does physical comedy and facial expressions super well, and fashion very well. When you open up “Archie Versus Predator” its not going to instantly be like the [dramatic music] “Dun dun duuuun!” spooky book that the Archie horrorverse is. It’s going to look like the typical “Life with Archie” books, until we start skinning the characters.
On how far de Campi can push the limits of Archie Comics during the crossover:
I’m taking this wonderful teen series and I am slaying them one by one. The Archie team is completely behind this. We spitballed the entire four-issue miniseries on a conference call between the Dark Horse editors, the Archie head honchos and myself. One of the wonderful things about this story is the organic way in which it came out. I was sitting on my balcony on the phone with them. They’re like, “Well how about we start it like this? What about if we bring this character in? How about this for a twist?” and we just outlined on the phone. And it wasn’t like they we saying — I was essentially just telling them the story and pulling it out of the air, and they were like, “Oh, how about we do it this way?” and making better suggestions. Together we just came up with a story we all really, really love. And the Archie guys are like, “When are we going to kill this character? When are we going to kill that character? And who are going to be the final ones?” So they were extremely supportive and pushing us to make sure it was that trashy, grindhousey book.
One of the things we also want to do with it, aside from making it really true to the first “Predator” movie, which I love so much, and throwing in tons of “Predator” Easter eggs, [we] also want to make it a proper teen book. It isn’t just a joke series or a horror series. It really is about my takes on Betty and Veronica and their issues with Archie and each other and how some of the other kids are really not helping that along much. The closet thing I can say it relates to is the teen summer camp slasher, except it’s in the jungle in Costa Rica with Predator.
On how the story of “Archie Meets Predator” will actually play out and make sense for the main characters:
There are these two characters, Jason and Sheryl Blossom, they are the rich kids who go to the private school nearby, and they are total douchebags. And they are sort of driving along, right before Spring Break. They’re all, “Hey Riverdale kids, where are you going for Spring Break? We’re going on a yachting tour in Central America.” Like, “Aren’t we special, and we’re so loaded.” And the kids are like, “We might go to the mall.” Dilton [Doiley]’s like, “I have to do yearbook stuff.” And Jughead’s like eating chips, because Jughead’s always eating, and he’s like, “Actually we are going to a beach holiday in Costa Rica,” because he wins a prize in a bag of chips. And he can take ten friends on a beach holiday in Costa Rica.
So they go to Costa Rica, and at the same time Dilton stays behind and Ethel stays behind, because Jughead is kind of a jerk, even though Ethel kind of likes him, he doesn’t ask her, because it doesn’t occur to him that that would be a nice thing to do. Dilton’s like, “I have to do this yearbook stuff, I have to set up all the polls for the end of the year yearbook ‘Most Successful,’ ‘Most Popular,’ ‘Best Dressed,'” and Betty and Veronica are like, “Oh, ‘Best Dressed.'” And so the whole thing, it’s this trip and turns into this nightmare for the girls like, “I’m going to win ‘Best Dressed.'” “No, I am.” And Betty, of course, is at a massive disadvantage because Veronica can buy anything she wants. Veronica is loaded. I think one of the reasons Veronica is after Archie so much is because he is the one thing she can’t buy, and so that causes a grand falling out in Costa Rica between Betty and Veronica. Betty goes running off toward this volcano where she’s heard it’s a local vengeance god and she is going to seek vengeance. So Betty thinks she is unleashing voodoo vengeance on Veronica, so there’s a lot of misunderstanding as to why people are dying, and disappearing.