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  • Jeff Somers 8:00 pm on 2017/01/25 Permalink
    Tags: , archie, archie comics, Characters, , , darker timelines,   

    Talking with Archie Comics Writer Alex Segura About the CW’s Riverdale and Archie’s Continuing Reinvention 

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    Though the gang from the Archie comic books has embarked on countless storylines that go deeper than shared ice-cream sodas and a broken-down jalopy, the universe of Archie Andrews, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead has long been best known in its original, squeaky clean form.

    Then came the Archie Revolution. This creative shift began in 2010, with the publication of the surprisingly thoughtful and well-received Life with Archie, which explored two timelines: one in which Archie married Betty, the other in which he married Veronica. Since then the company has almost completely revised their classic character, without sacrificing the fundamentals of the universe. They’ve taken chances with their storytelling, explored other genres, and modernized the characters.

    They’ve also worked with some of the best writers in the world to craft complex, interesting stories for Archie—including Alex Segura, Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing and Editor at Dark Circle Comics and author of several Archie comics. As the new Archie strategy culminates in the debut of the CW’s Riverdale, a gritty new Archie TV series that has a Twin Peaks vibe going on, we took a few minutes to discuss the State of Archie with Segura, how he mixes his work for Archie Comics with his series of novels featuring the detective Pete Fernandez, and how Riverdale is shaping up to be the crowning achievement of 75 years of Archie Andrews adventures.

    Your writing for Archie involves some fascinating mashups, like Occupy Riverdale and Archie Meets Ramones to name two examples of the fun, interesting modern direction of these storied characters. What’s your inspiration for an Archie story?
    I think, first and foremost, I try to be true to the characters. I grew up reading Archie and I get a kick out of hitting the notes that made me laugh as a kid. And while the Archie comics were very sitcomlike in terms of not being serialized, there were some constants. The kids were sometimes at odds but rarely mean. It all comes from a place of friendship, familiarity, and fun, so I try to keep that front and center even when they’re dealing with unexpected things, like Gene Simmons, Joey Ramone, or something as potentially controversial as Occupy.

    Did you know Archie was about to become one of the most innovative and interesting reboots in comic history when you took this job?
    I can’t say I predicted that, but I did know Archie was an icon. He was immediately recognizable and the kind of property or brand that people knew, whether they were fans of the comics or not, like Batman or Spider-Man. So, from a publicity perspective, that’s a dream. It means you don’t have to over-explain what you’re pitching. So, once the content caught up with the awareness, thanks to the leadership of Archie’s Publisher/CEO Jon Goldwater, it provided us with a ton of interesting stories to pitch to the mainstream press. That created the wave of interest that’s culminating now with Riverdale on TV.

    Aside from your comics work and day job, you’re the author of three mystery novels featuring your character Pete Fernandez (Silent City, Down the Darkest Street, and the forthcoming Dangerous Ends). Tell us a little about Pete. Any chance you’ll be writing an Archie/Pete Fernandez crossover someday?
    I don’t think Pete is going to drive up to Riverdale anytime soon, but hey, never say never!

    I’m originally from Miami, and when I first moved to New York about a decade ago, I became obsessed with a lot of modern crime writers—authors like George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, Reed Coleman and Lawrence Block. Each of these writers not only had strong protagonists that were flawed, human, and (often) funny, but the sense of place was amazing. You couldn’t tell a Nick Stefanos story without D.C., or Tess Monaghan without Baltimore. It got me to thinking about writing my own crime novel, set in my hometown.

    Then Pete walked in. He’s in pretty bad shape when you meet him in Silent City—his father just died, his fiancée has left him, and he’s not-so-slowly drinking himself to death. So, not your ideal hero. But that’s part of the fun, no? As the series progresses, we watch Pete stumble and pick himself up again, learning as he goes. Pete’s story runs on two tracks—there’s the overarching mystery of each book, which is essential to these kind of books, but there’s also his own personal struggles to be more than just a waste of space. He wants to reclaim the potential he knows he lost and he wants to be the kind of person his father thought he could be. He’s not always successful, but that’s what makes the stories compelling, I think. It’d be too easy to just have him settle into a routine, evergreen situation where each book is about the case in front of him. But I’d be bored and I think readers would, too. That’s why I try to make each book stand out and push him forward. The latest book, Dangerous Ends, takes a much wider view of not only Pete, but Miami as well, flashing back to the early days of Castro’s Cuba and showing how the past continues to affect the present, and put Pete’s own life at risk. It’s definitely my most complex book to date and I’m really excited for people to dive into it.

    Let’s talk Riverdale. The new TV show is right in line with the reinvigorated, edgy sensibility of the new comics (zombies, anyone?). I’ve heard it described a bit like Archie meets Twin Peaks. Did you have any input on its development?
    I did not! Though, I love what I’ve seen and the team of Greg Berlanti, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Jon Goldwater, and Sarah Schechter that WB and The CW (plus cast and crew) have put together. It feels noir, moody, compelling, and risky without distancing itself from the core Archie mythos. In the same way you can believe Archie and his friends are battling a zombie apocalypse in the Afterlife with the Archie series (written by Aguirre-Sacasa), you’ll buy the murder-mystery-meets-small-town idea in Riverdale immediately. It’s an impressive and addictive piece of work, and really a testament to what the company’s been moving toward over the last eight years under Jon’s watchful eye.

    Would you say working as a journalist in Miami and writing gritty noir novels actually prepared you to work at Archie Comics, of all places? Will some of that noir quality show up in Riverdale?
    I think different kinds of writing help you become more versatile and improve what you do across the board, in the way being a great poet might assist you in writing a short story because it teaches you how to be compact with language. Writing comics has taught me to be more visual in my prose, because in comics you’re writing a screenplay for the artist to direct and it’s all about camera angles and what to focus on, so that taught me to be more image-centric when working on the novels. Writing prose has also helped me look at a comic as a bigger whole and plot according to that, as opposed to just stringing gags together. You want it to feel cohesive and valuable, even if it’s a humor comic. Journalism, for me, played a big part in all that. It taught me to be direct, clear, and fast. Use the words you know, put the important info at the top and don’t waste time. I think that’s reflected in most of my work. Tell the story, make it engaging, fin.

    What else do we need to know about Pete Fernandez, the future of Archie, and Riverdale?
    Well, the third Pete Fernandez Miami Mystery, Dangerous Ends, arrives on April 11 from Polis Books, available wherever books are sold. You can also grab the first two, Silent City and Down the Darkest Street, now, in case you want to prep on Pete’s adventures. I’m also cowriting a The Archies one-shot with my pal Matthew Rosenberg and artist Joe Eisma, which reveals the origins of the band in the current Archie world. That was a lot of fun. In terms of Riverdale—I suggest people check it out! It’s a really gripping take on some of the biggest, most iconic pop culture characters ever. Don’t miss it.

    The new series Riverdale kicks off on January 26 at 9 p.m. EST on The CW. And while you’re at it, Alex Segura’s Pete Fernandez novels are excellent noir thrillers that go places Archie Andrews can’t—at least not yet. But the way things are going, give Archie a few more years and he might get there.

    The post Talking with Archie Comics Writer Alex Segura About the CW’s Riverdale and Archie’s Continuing Reinvention appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Elodie 2:00 pm on 2016/12/20 Permalink
    Tags: Characters, , , ,   

    5 Reasons Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Newbie Reader’s Best Way Into the Wizarding World 

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    Longtime fans have been clamoring to see Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the big screen ever since its announcement, on the heels of a long dry spell for Potter cinephiles. But the movie isn’t just a sparkling, often dark addition to the canon for those who already love J.K. Rowling’s brand of narrative magic—it’s also a new reader’s perfect introduction to the wizarding world. If you’ve never read Harry Potter and are wondering if you should climb aboard the bandwagon, here’s why you absolutely should, and why Fantastic Beasts is the best place to start.

    1. You can dip your toes in first.
    Once you’re hooked on Rowling, seven books (and one script book) in the Potter series won’t seem like enough. But coming in cold, it might look like a hefty commitment for a newcomer. If you’re looking to test the waters before diving in, Fantastic Beasts is the way to go. The film features a practically new character in Newt Scamander, a magical creature enthusiast who eventually goes on to write one of Harry Potter’s school textbooks and has plenty of misadventures along the way. Bonus: the movie isn’t an adaptation of a novel, meaning you can see it without invoking the ire of book purists, and you won’t be missing out on anything. Score!

    2. It won’t give anything away.
    Fantastic Beasts takes place in 1920s New York City—about seventy years before the events of the Harry Potter saga. Needless to say, you’ll be safe from spoilers. (It won’t be like trying to navigate Twitter after the latest Game of Thrones episode, for instance.)

    3. But that doesn’t mean Fantastic Beasts is entirely unrelated to the larger Harry Potter series.
    Fantastic Beasts is set in the same richly textured world as the series that first captivated readers over 15 years ago—which means Newt uses many of the same magical spells as Harry, that institutions (like the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry) exist in both stories, and certain characters even pop up in each. However, elements are incorporated so seamlessly (and familiar names dropped so casually) that Potter newbies won’t feel left out.

    4. It will leave you wanting more.
    Which is perfect. Fantastic Beasts is the first of five (yes, five!) movies, so you’re all set there. And if you’re interested in the nuances and finer details of the wizarding world—more than what the quick-paced, rollicking good time that is Fantastic Beasts delivers onscreen—then we can think of seven books you might like.

    5. You’ll still have the whole Harry Potter series to look forward to.
    Most Potter fans would like nothing more than to be able to go back and reread the series again for the best time. It’s not one of the biggest bestsellers of all time for nothing. After falling for Rowling’s world in Fantastic Beasts, you’ll be in the uniquely enviable position of having basically prepared your mind to be blown. Because trust us when we say this: the Harry Potter saga is life-changing.

    The post 5 Reasons Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a Newbie Reader’s Best Way Into the Wizarding World appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Jeff Somers 7:00 pm on 2016/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: Characters, , , who wants a werther's?   

    The 5 Best Grandpas in Literature 

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    Becoming a grandparent is a remarkable experience that many people report as rejuvenating, bringing fresh purpose to people who have otherwise achieved their life goals and settled into a quieter time (Lesley Stahl recently published a whole book studying the phenomenon of grandparenting, researching its role throughout history and in the modern day, and it’s fascinating). While plenty of books have grandparents in them, most treat our parents’ parents as charming old folks who rarely have much to do with the plot. These five grandfathers, on the other hand, aren’t content to sit back and let the world pass them by—they are the plot.

    The Grandfather in The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
    Okay, he’s not actually in the book. But William Goldman wrote the screenplay adaptation, so we’ll accept him as canon, and he’s wonderful. As portrayed by Peter Falk, the curmudgeonly grandfather knows how to handle his young grandson expertly at bedtime, and proceeds to reel off what is likely the greatest bedtime story ever told. Falk’s grandfather remains a bit of a mystery to us, as very little is revealed about him aside from his obvious affection for his grandson and his kind of prickly demeanor, but you still feel like you know him, and very likely fervently want to have lunch with him just to listen to him tell a great story from Back in the Day and then probably give you some hard candy he’s got in the pockets of his sweater.

    Vito Corleone in The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
    Murderous, manipulative cancer on society? Sure, but Vito Corleone built a world-class criminal empire all in the service of providing for and securing his family. Having seen the damage done through vendettas in Sicily and then being forced to find his way through an unfamiliar society in America, Vito ruthlessly pursues power not as an aim in itself, but as a way to guarantee that his family is protected and inherits that power so they will never have to worry again. Unlike the grandfather in The Princess Bride, you might not want to have Vito creep into your room at night to read you a story, but he might not be a bad choice as grandfather if you’re, say, being bullied at school.

    Grandpa Joe in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    Agent of chaos, instigator, and genius slacker, Grandpa Joe has actually garnered quite a cult of Internet Hate in the modern age, as an old man who claims to be bedridden but can leap up and dance when a free tour of a chocolate factory is announced, as well as a leech who contributes nothing to an impoverished household but still secrets away “tobacco money.” Whether or not these actions make Joe a monster or a genius depends on your own attitude towards things like getting out of bed ever or holding a job ever, but it’s obvious innocent Charlie Bucket loves his grandpa and wouldn’t take anyone else on the factory tour. And since Charlie is proved to be worthy of inheriting the factory at the end because of his essential goodness and intelligence, you have to take his recommendation of his lazy, seemingly selfish grandfather at face value. Plus, Grandpa Joe is fun, demonstrating you’re never too old (or too covered in bedsores) to sing, dance, and eat candy until you pass out.

    Robert Jebediah “Granddad” Freeman in The Boondocks, by Aaron McGruder
    Granddad Freeman is a fantastic character. Grumpy, selfish, and constantly irritated, he has also lived a rich life filled with history, bravery, and adventure—even if there’s some question as to whether his stories of World War II heroism, involvement in the civil rights movement, and other adventures are completely truthful. While usually outraged by whatever his two grandsons get up to, Granddad obviously has grudging affection for them. He’s not perfect, and his reliance on corporal punishment is out of step with the modern world (as is Grandad himself) but any grandfather who has lived half the life Robert has would be an incredible man to have around the house.

    The Alm-Uncle in Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
    The classic tale of the World’s Most Cheerful Orphan is, in some ways, a redemption story for Heidi’s curt, taciturn, and embittered grandfather, The Alm-Uncle (a.k.a. Uncle Alp). At the beginning of the story he’s a man who has turned away from the world and from God, and initially it seems that his angry, unhappy little world will be a terrible place for Heidi to live. But her innocent, happy approach to a life that has pretty much been all lemons all the time soon moves him to a grudging affection, and after Heidi’s adventures in the city she helps him overcome his grief and anger and return to society and the local church congregation, by which time it’s clear the Alm-Uncle is a loving, supportive grandparent we’d all be lucky to have.

    Shop all fiction >

  • Jenny Kawecki 3:30 pm on 2016/04/14 Permalink
    Tags: Characters, , , love at first fight,   

    Ranking the Meet-Cutes of Classic Lit 

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    The classic meet-cute can be the best part of a love story, or the most cringe-worthy. The more awkward, quirky, or downright doomed the relationship seems from that first connection, the better the chance at true, happens-once-in-a-lifetime love—usually. At least in books. And while it may be a newish term, it has been happening for ages. To prove it, here are some of our favorite examples from classic lit, ranked from least to most swoony.

    10. Romeo and Juliet (Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare)
    Meeting at a party, hitting it off, and not realizing your families are mortal enemies? Yep, that’s a pretty standard rom-com start. And while Juliet totally holds up her end of the bargain with the witty banter, Romeo just comes across as a desperate teenage boy (which, to be fair, he is). Plus, of course, they totally botch it by dying at the end.

    9. Emma and Mr. Knightley (Emma, by Jane Austen)
    We could name a number of meet-cutes that occur while one party is bawling their eyes out…of course, neither party is typically an infant. Props to Jane Austen for avoiding the childhood friends cliché and taking the introductions all the way back to Emma’s very early days on earth—but it’s hard to get those cuddly, anticipatory romantic feels when you’re imagining that 16-year age gap during Emma’s childhood. But all’s well that ends well, and it is legal and not weird at all in the end.

    8. Catherine and Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë)
    No couple says quirky and adorable quite like Catherine and Heathcliff, right? Here we have yet another interesting take on the childhood meet-cute: Catherine is a spoiled brat when she meets her new adopted brother—so far, so full of opportunities for a dramatic turnaround. Of course, things get rocky when she actually spits on him and then makes him sleep in the hallway outside her room. Even that would be surmountable, except for the teensy problem that their relationship basically never evolves from there, and Catherine still acts like a spoiled brat till the day she dies.

    7. Christine and Raoul (The Phantom of the Opera, by Gaston Leroux) 
    Of course, we have to follow those up with an actual childhood meet-cute, because you never forget your first love: Christine and Raoul first meet as young humans when he dashingly rushes into the sea to rescue her scarf (points for heroism and adorable smallness). Plus, they get a sort of second meet-cute when he re-falls in love with her after hearing her sing.

    6. Lady Chatterley and Mellors (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D. H. Lawrence)
    There’s nothing quite like meeting the future love of your life while pushing around your current (increasingly estranged) (paralyzed) spouse in his wheelchair. But when you toss in him ignoring you the entire time and add on an awkward second meeting where you judge his parenting technique, you’ve essentially got the secret recipe for a quirk-ton of true love. Or lust. Or whatever.

    5. Ahab and the Moby Dick (Moby Dick, by Herman Melville)
    Melville really knows how to set the stage for a wonderful, encouraging relationship: you’ve got one party whose only job in life is to kill the second party, and a second party who happens to maim the first party in an effort to survive. Sure, it sounds doomed, but there’s no denying it’s obsession, er, love at first sight. Because sometimes, “I love you,” sounds a lot like “I want to put a harpoon through your eye.”

    4. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester (Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë)
    As far as setting up romance goes, Charlotte way outstrips her sister Emily. Jane and Mr. Rochester meet when he falls off his horse and she helps him up, totally unaware he’s actually her boss—a solid, steady attempt. The cuteness continues when they’re introduced for real and strike up a lovely round of witty banter, teasing, and flirting. (It’s all tarnished a bit later when it turns out he was married all along, but hey, points for a good beginning.)

    3. Anne and Gilbert (Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery)
    Oh Gilbert, how we love you and your good intentions. All he wanted was Anne’s attention; it’s hardly his fault he didn’t know Anne’s hair was a sensitive topic for her. Their introduction ends with a slate to the head and the beginning of a strong, slow-burning grudge. One pond rescue and many years of academic rivalry later, and Anne and Gilbert might finally be on the (long) road to romance.

    2. Scarlet and Rhett (Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell)
    If you thought Anne was extreme for hitting Gilbert with her slate, Scarlet one-ups her by slapping one guy and throwing a bowl at the wall near Rhett’s head. Toss in a few insults, a declaration of love for a guy who’s not Rhett, and incensed storming off, and you’ve got a near-perfect (for the reader) first meeting.

    1. Elizabeth and Darcy (Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen)
    Of course, no meet-cute can quite compare to Lizzy and Darcy’s: he’s aloof, she’s outgoing and fun. He’s grumpy, she’s a little too poor. He insults her looks, she insults his feelings about poetry. Things are looking about as unlikely as they can get—and yet, they’re so perfect for each other. It’s just going to take approximately two dozen more awkward interactions before they get there.

  • Ginni Chen 6:30 pm on 2016/04/12 Permalink
    Tags: Characters, , fictional wisdom, , ,   

    Can You Guess the Fictional Character By Their Yearbook Quote? 

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    It’s that time of year, when bright-eyed seniors on the verge of leaving the academic coop put together their yearbook pages. Between the “thank you’s” and the “I love you’s” and the “OMG ROTFL’s,” every cap-and-gown-clad student feels compelled to pass on some words of wisdom that sum up their life view. Some quotes are inspiring, some are less so, but everyone strives for words that give readers a sense of who they truly are.

    As the class of 2016 ponders what quotes they’ll leave as their legacy, we thought it would be fun to imagine what fictional characters would’ve said on their yearbook pages. Test your book cred by guessing which fictional character belongs to each of these perfect yearbook quotes.

    1. This fantastically clever character’s yearbook page says this to his loving friends and family: “I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.”

    2. This character would get a kick out of quoting his girlfriend on his yearbook page, leaving underclassmen the following words of wisdom (attributed to her, of course): “It’s leviOsa, not levioSA!”

    3. This character is unpersuaded by peer pressure to change even when deemed a “nerd,” and would say: “Nothing else has any efficacy, I might as well be myself.”

    4. This character would come back from the strangest senior trip involving the most bizarre encounters, and would sum it up rather philosophically: “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

    5. This commitment-phobic party girl would have bounced out of school the day after graduation for the Big City, leaving behind this quote: “I don’t want to own anything until I know I’ve found the place where me and things belong together.”

    6. This character would start to unravel toward the end of school and nobody would seem to notice. He’d leave behind this cryptic yearbook quote: “I have to return some videotapes.”

    7. This manifesto-writing, riot-inducing, hot-dog loving character would toss one last insult at his classmates in his yearbook quote: “I mingle with my peers or no one, and since I have no peers, I mingle with no one.”

    8. This mischievous character soars above the rest of the class and seeks adventure wherever he goes. Before he takes off, he’d say to his schoolmates, “To live would be an awfully big adventure.”

    9. This character is a little less hopeful about the future than his peers. He’s little sad for the past, a little bit in love, and a little worried about what’s ahead. His parting words would be “Develop a sense of nostalgia for something, or you’ll never figure out what’s important.”

    10. This character is the rich eccentric kid in class, but truly means well and has a heart of gold. Before leaving on a strange philanthropic adventure, this character’s yearbook quote would say, “Many, many good things have I bought! Many, many bad things have I fought!”

    11. This mistake-prone yet lovable character would graduate from school at the top of the class, and would share the following optimistic outlook: “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

    12. This character would ask classmates to think of the world and their responsibility to future generations. This character would want a yearbook quote that inspires awareness and change, something like: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

    13. This character isn’t a big fan of school, but isn’t happy about graduating either, because it means entering the grownup world. Their yearbook quote would speak the truth about getting older, “Grown-ups never have any fun. All they have is a lot of dull work and stupid clothes and corns and nincom tax.”


    1. Mr. Fox, from Fantastic Mr. Fox, by Roald Dahl
    2. Ron Weasley, from The Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling
    3. Oscar De Leon, from The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz
    4. Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
    5. Holly Golightly, from Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote
    6. Patrick Bateman, from American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis
    7. Ignatius Reilly, from A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
    8. Peter Pan, from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    9. Lenny Abramov, from Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
    10. Eliot Rosewater, from God Bless You Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
    11. Anne Shirley, from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    12. The Once-ler, from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
    13. Pippi Longstocking, from Pippi in the South Seas, by Astrid Lindgren

    How many did you get right?

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