Veronica's new cousin and Sabrina the Teenage Witch return to "Archie Comics"!
As the "big two" struggle to alter their universes of older characters to rapidly reflect a more diverse world, iconic publisher "Archie Comics" merely forges ahead with new characters as well as great takes on old ones. A key figure in this is current "Archie Comics" writer/artist Dan Parent, who not only has sought to bring the comic into the 21st century and expand the cast, but has added to it with characters such as Kevin Keller, an openly gay soldier (who got his own spin off series). This week, Parent is about to make the fictional town of Riverdale even more diverse by introducing a new cousin for Veronica Lodge in "Archie #656". Her name is Harper Lodge and she is not only a person of color, she is also disabled (wheelchair bound).
As Comic Book Resources revealed, Parent based the character around a real life Canadian author, Jewel Kats. Based in Toronto, Kats has written several books intended for disabled children to empower and entertain them. She has a personal stake in this as she also uses a wheelchair herself. In 2013, she released a graphic novel, "DitzAbled Princess". Both she and Parent have met, and reveal Harper as an "outspoken" and "fun" character who is "the epitome the confidence". Kats continues, "Like me, Harper's turned her differences into gifts. She's proud of her disability, she owns it. She's eccentric, she's sassy and a total diva. I'd even go as far as to say that Harper's role in Riverdale is critical. She represents inclusion, and that's what Riverdale is all about. People with disabilities can look up to Harper -- her character is just that powerful." Parent would go on to note how Harper will "add more dimension to Riverdale" to add diversity to the usual "gang" of Riverdale. As the cover suggests, Harper will certainly add another dimension to the usual "love triangle" which is the core of the Archie universe.
In addition, the success of "Afterlife with Archie" under writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has led to the writer being tasked with relaunching another series centering around the supernatural. Coming in October, "Sabrina" will return as a second horror comic alongside "Afterlife" and will be drawn by Robert Hack and written by Aguirre-Sacasa. The series will be set in the 1960's and detail the origin of the "teenage witch" as well as deal with "witches and witchcraft, demonology and occultism", with more "diabolical" monsters involved. Since "Afterlife with Archie" has quickly has become Archie's best selling monthly comic, the publisher has seen the popularity of a horror line of comics starring their most well known characters, and Sabrina seems to be a no-brainer choice. The heroine has seen incredible success in alternate media, such as in a TV show starring Melissa Joan-Hart from 1996-2003 as well as two generations of animated series in 1999 and 2011.
It remains telling when Archie Comics, a publisher who many older geeks dismiss as "childish", seem to showcase more mature levels of creativity and flexibility with their universe and characters than other so-called "iconic" publishers with more "iconic" characters.
In a press release, the publishing arm of a major motion picture studio has formed an official alliance with publishing giant Penguin Random House. This alliance will increase the reach of both in the graphic novel market, and to this end three new creator owned series are due to debut specifically from this union. They are scheduled for release for late 2014 into 2015.
The first is "A Town called Dragon" by Judd Winick and artist Geoff Shaw which centers around a group of citizens in a small down having to defeat a dragon from myth when the last egg hatches in their area. The second is "Epochalypse", by Jonathan Hennessey and artist Shane Davis, which is a time spanning epic revolving 600 years of human history collapsing into one particular era. The third, due in 2015, is "The Harvester" by Brandon Seifert and artist Eric Battle, which covers two investigators' search for a dangerous urban legend. In addition, Legendary is putting efforts into making some graphic novels to tie into their recent "Godzilla" film.