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

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

    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.

  • BN Editors 9:00 pm on 2016/11/14 Permalink
    Tags: bnstorefront-holiday-fandoms, comics, , , ,   

    Graphic Novels and Most Talked-About Fandoms 

    For the uninitiated, fandom can seem a strange and scary place. Luckily, even if you can’t tell Deadpool from Batman or the Death Star from the TARDIS (and that’s not even approaching the literally foreign realm of Japanese manga), we’ve got suggestions to satisfy the fanboys and fangirls in your life this holiday season.

    DC Comics Encyclopedia: All-New Edition, by Matthew K. Manning and Alex Irvine
    Things are always changing in the superhero universes of the big publishers, so it’s time for newly updated encyclopedia from DC. This coffee table book lays it all out: over 1,100 characters from A-to-Z, complemented by hundreds of illustrations.

    Deadpool: Drawing the Merc with a Mouth—Three Decades of Amazing Marvel Comics Art, by Matthew K. Manning
    Who’d have thought that we’d see the day when Deadpool would get a fancy artbook all to himself? This one covers 20 years of some of the best art featuring Wade, who began as a minor villain and has become one of Marvel’s most popular (anti)heroes. In addition to page after page of amazing (and amazingly weird) art, the book also has interviews with many of the artists and writers who turned the Merc with a Mouth into a phenomenon.

    Attack on Titan Anthology, by Various
    In a move that is extremely rare in the manga world, Kodansha Comics lined up some top non-Japanese creators, including Batman writer Scott Snyder, Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone, and Milk and Cheese creator Evan Dorkin to create their own comics based in the world of Attack on Titan. This anthology is in full color and sized like a comic book, and like the manga, it is filled with Titan-fighting action, crazy characters, and shocking twists. The Barnes and Noble exclusive edition features a specially drawn cover by Eisner Award Winner Faith Erin Hicks.

    Civil War II, by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez
    Marvel’s controversial 2006 Civil War crossover laid the groundwork for years worth of stories. Comic fans being a passionate people, some loved it and others loved it a bit less, but there’s no denying that the ramifications impacted everything that came after. Civil War II is poised to do much the same thing for the modern Marvel landscape, with heroes fighting heroes over the shape of the future itself. A young student named Ulysses Cain is exposed to the Terrigen Mists that birth Inhumans, and he quickly learns that his power is to see the future. Events lead the heroes to form up: Captain Marvel wants to use the visions to pre-empt crime by locking locking people up before they commit crimes, while Iron Man stands with the heroes who refuse to condemn the (currently) innocent. Not everyone survives, and the story is leading to new teams and a new order among the heroes of the Marvel U.

    DC Rebirth Omnibus, Vol. 1, by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Tom King, and Peter J. Tomasi
    DC’s New52 reboot lasted for several years, and saw a darker take on heroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. The company shocked everyone earlier this year by making a commitment to a (slightly) lighter tone and a willingness to acknowledge the company’s more than 75 years of history in current stories. There’s a through-line in the return of Wally West, a beloved Flash who’d been sidelined in recent years, but the 21 different specials collected here each tells its own story about the heroes of the DCU and establishes the current and future state of play. Superman’s got a kid! The JSA is back! And what’s Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan doing skulking around behind the scenes? 

    Marvel: The Hip-Hop Covers, Vol. 1
    Marvel’s done some truly stellar work on variant covers over the past few years, but few were more successful than the more than 80 works of art using heroes of the Marvel U to pay tribute to some of hip hop’s legendary musicians and the album covers that have become equally iconic. Adi Granov recreates Nas’ 1994 Illmatic cover with Miles Morales, Mark Brooks uses Ant-Man to channel Biggie, and Brian Stelfreeze recreates Jay-Z’s Black Album with The Black Panther. Ms. Marvel is miseducated a la Lauryn Hill. Adam Hughes re-creates Straight Outta Compton using the all-female A-Force. Those are just some favorites, but there are many, many more from some of the top names in comics art.

    Fruits Basket Collectors Edition, Vol. 1, by Natsuki Takaya
    Yen Press kicks off its new edition of one of the most popular shoujo manga ever with a double-size volumes. Cheerful orphan Tohru Honda is so determined to never cause any trouble to anyone that when her grandfather’s house is being renovated, she goes off and lives in a tent. By an incredible coincidence of the sort only found in shoujo manga, the hottest guy in her class, Yuki Sohma, lives nearby with his two cousins, and she soon moves in and brightens up their bachelor lives. This isn’t a fluffy high school romance, though. Some members of the Sohma family turn into animals when they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex, and this ancient curse has left the family scarred and dysfunctional. There are 13 animals altogether, and Natsuki Takaya weaves her story around all of them, drawing the reader in with a complex plot and heartfelt emotion. Yen Press’s new Collectors Edition is modeled on the deluxe Japanese edition and includes full-color pages and other nice touches.

    Hatsune Miku Mikubon, by Ontama
    It’s moe to the max in this cute gag manga about the Vocaloid singer Hatsune Miku and her companions Rin, Len, and Luka. You don’t have to be a fan of the turquoise-haired phenomenon to enjoy this story—it reads like any other gag manga about a girl and her friends going to school, with a cast that includes the clumsy heroine who keeps falling asleep in class, the girl everyone has a crush on, and the weird adult character (in this case, Vice Principal Ann, who keeps popping up in odd outfits like a nurse’s uniform and a leather bikini). Adding to the fun are a mad professor and a robot that can assume any human form, leading to all sorts of hijinks. The comic follows the 4-koma (four-panel) format, so it reads like a newspaper comic strip only vertical instead of horizontal. The story is lighthearted, with plenty of slapstick and overreaction, making for an easy read that you can easily pick up and put down again.

    Star Wars: Complete Locations, by Jason Fry, Kemp Remillard
    One of the best things about Star Wars is its wide variety of colorful locations. There’s a lot more to the galaxy far, far away than just “ice planet” and “swamp world,” though those are featured here too, along with the fire world of Mustafar. This book packs in some really nice art along with plenty of fine detail, including cross-sections of locations like the Resistance base from The Force Awakensand Luke’s old homestead on Tatooine. It’s a great gift for the obsessive fan or a very nice coffee-table art book for the more casual moviegoer.

    Doctor Who: Whographica: An Infographic Guide to Space and Time, by Steve O’Brien and Simon Guerrier
    The sci-fi Doctor Who Universe, spanning more than fifty years, hundreds of hours worth of television, and twelve (or so) leading men, holds endless fascination for fans willing to take a slightly deeper dive. This book takes that exploration to a new level: using colorful charts and infographics to illuminate the various corners of the Who-niverse. The Doctor’s convoluted family tree is rendered as one of the many elaborate double-page spreads covering aspects of the show including The Doctor himself, Daleks, the TARDIS, companions, and alien planets and monsters. The book’s writer, Simon Guerrier, has various Who novels, short stories, and audio dramas. Which is just as well: on a journey into the many worlds of Doctor Who, you want an expert along.

    The post Graphic Novels and Most Talked-About Fandoms appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Lauren Passell 3:20 pm on 2014/07/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , comics,   

    We Would Probably Camp Out Overnight to Get This Batman Giveaway 

    B1For the longest time, “Detective Comics” No. 27 was a highly coveted item amongst Batman fans, one of the most expensive comic books in the world. (One copy sold for $1,075,000 at an auction in 2010.) And right now I am holding a copy of a special edition of Detective Comics #27 featuring a retelling of the very first Batman story, “The Case of The Chemical Syndicate.” WHO WANTS TO TOUCH ME?


    But because life is crazy, this very special “Detectives Comic” No. 27 could be yours.


    Tomorrow, to honor Batman’s 75th anniversary (#BatmanDay!), we’ll be shelling out free copies of the Detectives Comic No. 27, featuring a re-imagining of Batman’s beginnings designed by Chip Kidd and scripted by Brad Meltzer.


    This comic is incredibly rare and the copies are extremely limited. I’m not even sure I should be trusted to LOOK at it. I’m about to go put it inside a plastic sleeve within a briefcase within a safe. If I were you, I would do everything in your power to be one of the first people to your B&N tomorrow to secure your copy. (Please don’t push each other! No stampeding!) And then you can put it inside a plastic sleeve within a briefcase within a safe, too. Or just brag about it on social media. Whatever you want to do.

    We’ll also be giving out really cool prizes and giveaways. Happy Anniversary, Batman! It’s a day you’ll definitely want to be a part of.

    Will you be joining us for #BatmanDay, July 23? More details here.

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