Alex de Campi is pitting the teens of Riverdale against the deadliest hunter in the universe in "Archie Meets Predator," and while it's anyone's guess who will end up on top, money should certainly be on the Predator. Along with artist Fernando Ruiz, the collaborative series between Archie Comics and Dark Horse will see the science fiction/horror icon hunting down Archie and the gang, combining Archie's house style artwork with de Campi's signature take on horror.
"We've done a couple of really crazy things. Archie is now part of the zombie apocalypse. We've killed Archie, so that was kind of unexpected, but I think this could be the cherry on top of the icing, quite honestly," Archie Comics CEO Jon Goldwater told CBR News during New York Comic Con. "I think this is in its own little place in Archie history. This is pretty unexpected news. ... We're just starting. There will be many other Archie crossovers over the next [few] years -- but right now, we're really excited about this one and we're going to put all our efforts into working with the Dark Horse folks. We're really please to be working with them on this."
CBR News spoke with de Campi about the upcoming series, how it draws from the best of horror films, her love of the Predator, why the series has a bit in common with "Final Destination" and much more.
CBR News: Alex, "Archie Meets Predator" seems like a pretty weird match on the surface. What do you think about these two properties colliding?
Alex de Campi: I don't know. There's a tradition of teen horror that goes way, way back. Summer camp slasher -- nice innocent kids go to summer camp, get killed off -- I've written one of them, "Flesh Beast of the Devil Doll" [in "Grindhouse"]. I think the real fun for teen horror is the way the teens interact with each other. You can do a lot with the Archie characters because there's so much interpersonal teen drama there, as well as the drama of there also being a Predator after them. There's an embarrassment of riches. It could never be on ongoing because that would stretch the bounds of credibility. It's not going to take the Predator more than four issues to kill them all. If I could have more space, I could do more.
The art is also going to be in Archie's house style, right?
Yeah, the art is going to be by Fernando Ruiz, who is a great, legendary Archie artist. He's an amazing artist -- he's super with facial expressions, he draws really cute teenagers, great fashion -- all the things you need in a teen book. You have to work really hard to make a line look that easy. Fernando makes it look really easy and fluid and gentle, and that's extremely difficult. People struggle for twenty years and don't manage that.
How do you think that's going to work for Predator?
I've seen his Predator. It's really cute! It's really good! The wonderful thing about having Fernando drawing it, is it actually kind of extends the horror. You open it up and it looks light and sunny and normal, and then someone gets skinned. It's not like the Archieverse stories, which are amazing -- or the Archie Horrorverse. "Afterlife with Archie" and "Sabrina" are amazing books, but you open them up and you know immediately that they're horror books. Everything is like orange and yellow and acid green and magenta. The characters are drawn very differently. Here, you never know when the horror is going to hit.
Was that fun for you, knowing that the book was going to be in Archie's house style? Were you able to take advantage of that during the story?
Oh, yes. When someone has a style like Fernando's -- audiences like to pigeonhole. So, when someone has a style like that, you think it's all they want to draw or all they can draw. When people -- I always get the question of "How can you do 'Grindhouse' and 'My Little Pony?'" Because I'm a normal, complex human being with varied interests. How about you?
Fernando's done Jughead in space and other monster stuff. He can do a lot of the stuff necessary for good horror and good sci-horror, which is what Predator really is.
It really seems like this is a series that's going to play really hard on readers' expectations for it. Do you have a lot of room as a writer to play with those expectations that you might not in other series?
Well, I talk about it a lot as the "Final Destination" films, which are really amazing horror films because -- if you've been living under a rock, the "Final Destination" films, some kids are going on a trip, they miss the plane, the plane crashes and so they all should have died. They don't, and fate comes after them. They all start dying in these varied, Rube Goldberg sort of ways. The film trains you to expect sudden and obscure death from above. So, every time one of the kids does something, you get all tied up. Like, they'll knock a pen on the ground and you'll think, "Oh my God! They're going to trip on the pen and they're going to go down the stairs and they're going to break their neck and it's going to be horrible!" And then they just pick the pen up.
That's the sort of thing we're going to do with the Archie book. You know most of these kids are going to die. It's a Predator, okay?! They're dippy teenagers from Riverdale who mainly worry about love triangles and when they're going to get their next hamburger. They're going to die. It's just when and how.
Of course, there's that old Predator trope -- especially from the first film -- the Predator doesn't go after you unless you have a weapon. But what is a weapon? And what happens when you're kind of bored as a Predator? You're like, "Fuck it. A fork is a weapon. Boom, dead."
What do people do when they start feeling afraid? They reach for a weapon! They get afraid and you say, "No, no, you're safe!" And then they reach for a weapon and you're like, "No, don't! Oh, you're dead."
The series is billed as "Archie Meets Predator," but the concept seems much more like an "Archie Versus Predator" sort of deal.
It's definitely a versus. The kids don't understand there's an alien after them.
Well, it seems like a pretty one-sided versus. It's almost like "Predator Hunts Archie" would be a better title.
Yeah, it's pretty much is Predator Hunts Archie. Predator has decided which of the Archie characters he really wants to hunt, and so it goes back to Riverdale to follow them.
You've done a lot of horror-type-things with your career. Doing an Archie/Dark Horse project really feels like it's combining many of the things you worked on, such as "My Little Pony" and "Grindhouse."
Yes, my interest in writing teenage and kids' stuff, and my interest in [horror]. It's a dream project! I love Predator, I love the original movie so much. I love teen drama. This is like taking the two things I like best in the world and putting them together. We are really respectful of the Archie characters. I've read 3000 pages of Archie comics as research for this project. I've been reading Archie from the '40s. There's a lot of the stuff from the '40s that's a little bit edgier than it is now in terms of Betty and Veronica's personalities and Jughead used to be much more misogynistic. We're going to go back to a bit of that. I'm trying as hard as I can to get some Easter eggs from the original "Predator" film -- and maybe some stuff from "Predator 2" -- into the book as possible.
We're still working out how we can do all of Shane Black's jokes, or any of them, in fact, because they're a little racy. Maybe when Sabrina's talking about Salem, her cat. I just want her to start saying something and "Predator" fans say, "Oh my God! It's that joke! It's that horrible joke!" and then someone will interrupt her. Because we can't have her saying [that].
It really seems like an odd but appropriate match, and it seems as though Archie has the ability to adapt itself to different situations. Why do you think that is? Do you think it can adapt to anything these days?
Well, he's America's average teen. You know, with certain limitations and a quality of respect, I think it's an incredibly flexible franchise. One of the exciting things that the team at Archie are doing recently is exploring how far they can take the franchise. They're interested in doing things with the secondary characters that are interesting. Archie is expanding in the way that Superman is in six or seven different titles, Batman is in many, Wolverine is in everything.
Without giving away any spoilers, do you think readers are going to be surprised at who survives longest against the Predator?
Yes. Yes they will -- and who dies and how they die.
"Archie Meets Predator" from Dark Horse Comics and Archie Comics in spring 2015.
CBR Managing Editor Albert Ching contributed to this report.