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SYFY WIRE Archie Comics

NYCC: Archie Comics brings back Sabrina with new stories set in both the comics and TV worlds

By Rich Sands
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 9 Robert Hack

On a day when it was announced that Sabrina Spellman would finally make her debut on The CW's Riverdale, there was a bit more good news related to Archie Comics' iconic teenage witch. The publisher touted Sabrina's return to the page as part of its virtual panel at New York Comic Con on Thursday. Fans will get to see the ongoing adventures of both the comic book and TV versions of the character.

The Occult World of Sabrina, which picks up after the events of the Netflix series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, will be out in 2022 in a world without the precocious witch. Spoiler alert: in the final episode, released at the end of last year, Sabrina died. But don't expect that to last very long.

While that story is based on Sabrina's TV adventures (as played by Kiernan Shipka), the comic book character's story will be resuming as well. Starting next week, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina returns after a four-year hiatus. "It's like we never left," said artist Robert Hack, who is re-teaming with writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa on the book. "We had done the first 11 pages [of this first issue back, No. 9] in 2017 and when we pick up, in the middle of a book, the magic was still there, so to speak. It is astoundingly weird, astoundingly messed up. Everything you love about Sabrina is back."

Hack wouldn't reveal many details about the book. Or couldn't. "It's a bit like describing a Robitussin dream," he joked. In the last issue back in 2017, Sabrina brought her boyfriend Harvey back from the dead (with help from Miss Porter/Madam Satan). "Harvey comes back not quite himself," Hack said. "It is Sabrina's father wearing Harvey's body. He is a terrible human being and an even worse ghost."

And now Sabrina must deal with the fallout from her actions, including, as Hack teased, "the terrible price for brining back a life: She must now take a life."

Also on the horror front, next month comes the one-shot anthology Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. "I think for at least three or four years I've been saying I would love to do a horror anthology," said Jamie L. Rotante, senior director of editorial for the publisher. "Chilling Adventures in Sorcery was a classic Archie title many moons ago that had all sorts of creepy and spooky stories. So we're paying homage to that, but we're bringing it into the modern era by featuring Madam Satan, who many know from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina."

The stories — which Rotante said have the feel of have the feel of, among other things, The Twilight Zone and Five Nights at Freddy's — will incorporate classic characters like Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead. "So it's going to have something for everyone," she said. It's going to have a lot of familiar characters to ease into this, but it's also these very creepy, unsettling stories with characters you know and love."

Given Archie's success with Halloween in recent years, the company is mining other holidays as well. Coming in December is the one-shot anthology Archie's Magic Holiday Special. Rotante revealed that the stories were inspired by holiday classics like It's a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. "You go through Archie's past, present and future in regards to Christmas," she said. Hanukkah and Kwanzaa will also be represented in the book.

Archie's Holiday Magic Special Cover

Rotante teased that Valentine's Day will be the next holiday to get the anthology treatment. "Romance and Archie go together very, very well," she said.

The company is also embracing digital formats, including the adorable weekly social media and Tinyview Comics strip Bite Sized Archie (by Ron Cacace and Vincent Lovallo), which is getting a colelcted print edition next spring, and the new Webtoon strip Big Ethel Energy.

The webcomic features the secondary character Ethel Muggs (famously portrayed by Shannon Purser on Riverdale). Writer Keryl Brown Ahmed and artist Siobhan Keenan are bringing the "awkward nerdy girl" back to her hometown (reluctantly) seven years after graduating high school to write a book about Riverdale's history. "Everyone is really shocked to see her," says Webtoon's Sarah Wang, a co-producer of the weekly strip. "She's self-assured, she's confident."

This new experience back in Riverdale is completely different from what she had back in high school. … It is really is a journey where she forms new relationships with people from her past. It really is a story about closure, confronting your past and hopefully it can be relatable to everyone that's reading."

Big Ethel Imagery