Archie Comics has taken a number of chances over the last few years, from launching an alternate horror version of its universe in "Afterlife with Archie" to killing its namesake, Archie Andrews, in the main universe, to the recently relaunched "Archie" #1 by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples. One of the people behind these bold initiatives is Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who in addition to writing "Afterlife" and the equally horrific "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" is also the Chief Creative Offiver for Archie Entertainment.
At Comic-Con International in San Diego, Archie announced a live-action "Riverdale" series at The CW, with Aguirre-Sacasa penning the pilot and "Arrow" and "The Flash" Executive Producer Greg Berlanti on board to produce. CBR TV's Jonah Weiland welcomed Aguirre-Sacasa back to the world famous CBR Yacht to discuss "Riverdale," the "Archie" relaunch, working on CBS' "Supergirl" TV series with Berlanti, what exactly "Vampironica" is, and his time working on Broadway's much maligned "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" musical.
To kick things off, Aguirre-Sacasa relays how the "Riverdale" TV series ended up at the CW despite previously being in the works at Fox, the role super producer Greg Berlanti will fill on the series and how the project has changed -- or not -- since its inception at Fox.
On how the Riverdale TV series ended up at The CW:
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Originally when I met with Warner Bros. to talk to them about doing a television show based on "Archie," I told them I had met with Greg Berlanti, who's obviously the king of comic book shows on television. But also, if you remember Greg started on "Dawson's Creek," "Everwood," he's done tons of coming-of-age shows as well. He seemed the perfect producer. It was sort of like, "Oh, we're gonna do this at The CW." Then Fox entered into the fray and it was at Fox for a while, but the pilot didn't get made. I give Greg and Warner Bros. full credit for this, they still believed in the project and the script. They got it back from Fox, which is hard to do, and we shopped it around and it was like, "Oh, it's gotta be at The CW." CW got really, really excited about it as well, and you're right, given what The CW is doing, if they're gonna have a teen show it should be the Riverdale kids. Of all the teen shows they should do given the other stuff [they're already doing], it just makes a lot of sense.
In the second part of the conversation, Aguirre-Sacasa explains how he ended up coming on board the staff of CBS' "Supergirl" TV series run by "Riverdale" producer Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler, whom the Archie CCO worked with during his time on "Glee." He discusses what attracted him to the project as well as what it's like to be inside the Berlanti TV machine.
On serving as a consulting producer on CBS' "Supergirl":
The writers' room started for "Supergirl" about seven or eight weeks ago and I had obviously been working with Greg on Riverdale, and "Supergirl" was co-created or co-developed by Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg who is behind "The Flash" -- amazing -- and Ali Adler, who I worked with on "Glee" for a year. When they were putting together the writers' room, Warner Bros. and Greg and Ali and Andrew, I met with them and they said, "Would you want to come and work on 'Supergirl?'" And I had never, despite my lifelong long and obsession with comic books, I had never done a comic book television show. It's such a privilege to have been asked that I jumped at the chance. And I wanted to see how everything at Berlanti Television worked. So it's been great, and I love the script, and I love Supergirl -- that entire world -- so I'm having a great, great time.
In the third segment, Aguirre-Sacasa discusses whether or not Mark Waid and Fiona Staples' "Archie" relaunch affected the development of Riverdale and the differences and similarities in each story. He also discusses the "darkness" of "Riverdale," explaining that the series is almost a teenage "Twin Peaks" in some respects. The CCO then comments on the "Vampironica" teaser from Comic-Con, explaining that his "Afterlife with Archie" collaborator Francesco Francavilla will be involved in some respect, and addresses Archie's mission statement when it comes to diversity.
On how much Mark Waid and Fiona Staples' relaunched "Archie" influences him on "Riverdale":
Probably the first draft of "Riverdale" was written before Mark wrote the first issue of "Archie." Mark pitched his ideas and we had a few conversations before he wrote, and I think I shared with him some of the stuff we were doing and strangely, Mark was making some of the same choices kind of to freshen up the characters that we were making on "Riverdale." We didn't feel like they absolutely had to dock exactly alike. We kind of wanted them to more brush up against each other and to not contradict each other directly. They didn't have to be wedded exactly but we didn't want hughe differences to happen between "Archie" #1 and "Riverdale." So we coordinated a bit but really they're kind of indepdendent. I would say that "Riverdale" is a bit darker, 'cause "Archie" #1 really celebrates the humor, kind of the romance, all the stuff like that. "Riverdale" is a little bit darker, a little bit more mysterious, that kind of stuff. In terms of the contemporaryness and the sensibility of it, and the fact that Archie's hot in both of them, that's kind of where there's the most overlap.
On the "darkness" of "Riverdale":
You know how "Twin Peaks" wasn't really about the murder of high school homecoming queen Laura Palmer? So imagine if you were doing "Twin Peaks" but you were following the kids of Laura Palmer's high school and not the grownups of the town. It's a little bit like that -- one element of it. There's still gonna be music and there's still gonna be Josie and the Pussycats, but there is that undercurrent.
For the final part of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa's in-depth chat with CBR TV, the writer discusses his work on the notorious broadway musical, "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," an experience he calls life-changing. He also discusses the play's breathtaking acrobatic and flying sequences, what he was able to change when the play shut down for revisions, and how he looks back on the whole saga of Spider-Man on Broadway.
On how working on the notorious Spider-Man broadway musical changed his life:
Every time I meet new people they ask me about it. They're like, "Wait, did you work on the Spider-Man musical?" It was everything you said. It was difficult, it was challenging, it was scary, but it's an experience that changed my life. Truly, because everyone was talking about it and obsessed with it. I made a lot of really good friends working on that show. It was the hardest thing I've done, one of the hardest things, but I look back on it very fondly because it did open a lot of doors for me, and it was my first time doing something on Broadway. I was a theater nerd growing up so to have a show or to work on a show on Broadway was huge. It feels almost like a dream, 'cause it was now, what, like five years ago or something? Or six years? Four or five years ago, and it does feel like kind of a dream. But I still talk to and work with some of the people I worked with on that all the time, like I'm doing a Broadway musical of "American Psycho," which is coming to Broadway this year and the general manager on that was the general manager of "Spider-Man." Every so often we'll bring somebody up and I'll go, "Oh my gosh, I forgot you worked on it," or, "Oh, you're a survivor as well."