'Life With Archie' to kill off Riverdale's favorite son in penultimate issue
In a broader sense for the death, are you approaching this as the true "final Archie story"? In other words, do you and the publisher consider this to be the definitive end to the characters that have been around for over 70 years?
No, not even close. This is the final "Life With Archie" story, but by no means the end of anything except this title. As I said, there's limitless potential in all these characters and they'll keep right on living as long as we can keep on telling their stories in whatever “universe” that happens to be. Off the top of my head, I can think of half a dozen other directions to take the gang in a similar vein, each of them with endless stories to tell.
But the passing of Archie won't be the finale of the series. The supporting cast of the book will be saying their farewells in #37. How did you choose to set that story up as a capper on the big events of #36? RELATED: Aguirre-Sacasa Ready to Take Risks as Archie's First Chief Creative Officer
We didn't want to end this particular life with Archie on the death. After all these years, we thought readers would want and need closure, kind of like a memorial service where anybody can stand up and talk about the dearly departed. So we gave the supporting cast that opportunity. They're sort of like proxies for the readers. And we wanted to do an affirmation of the world of Riverdale, let everybody know that even after the unthinkable, life goes on for the community and for everybody who loved Archie. Yes, there will always be a hole in the lives of his loved ones and the loss is never forgotten, but the world keeps turning and life goes on.
Between the two final issues, you're also divvying up art duties between your regular collaborators Pat and Tim Kennedy and Fernando Ruiz amongst other contributors. What were you looking for on the page as this adult version of the Archie world draws to a close?
All Fernando and Pat and Tim had to do is what they've been doing all along -- draw great comics. In a way, I think their jobs are a lot harder than if this were a traditional superhero or other action comic. There may be more drawing involved in traditional punch-'em-up stories, but that sort of action is easy to make interesting compared to what they've been given to draw. Most of "LWA" is people standing or sitting around talking in the Chocklit Shoppe or walking through the park -- all of which has the potential to be a major yawn visually. But Fernando and the Kennedys take those situations and invest such great personality and body language in the characters that you don't even realize all they're doing is eating a hamburger at a table.
In the end, the "Life With Archie" series has been about a lot of life milestones -- marriage, death, cancer, babies, jobs and everything in between. What best sums up the series for you, and how do you hope to reflect that idea in the finale?
I think that summing up moment was the death of Miss Grundy in the Bettyverse story in "LWA" #6. When I wrote the panel where Mr. Weatherbee came out to tell everyone that she was gone, I got choked up and had to walk away from the computer for a few minutes to regain my composure. That was the first time I was conscious of just how incredibly well-rounded and real these characters could be. I'd grown up reading Archie Comics and when I first started writing them, in some of the teen Archie tales a few months before I was offered the "LWA" gig, I stepped into a Riverdale and characters that was as familiar to me as the streets of Brooklyn and the friends from there with whom I'd actually grown up. But writing that scene made me see the impact that Archie, Betty, Veronica, and the rest of the Riverdale gang could have on me. That moment became the touchstone for me for the rest of the series and I never forgot that I wasn't just writing cartoon figures but characters that are locked into the American cultural landscape and whose lives meant something more to readers than just a few minutes of diversion or entertainment. I hope I managed to keep that going all the way through to the bittersweet end.
"Life With Archie" #36 arrives in July from Archie Comics.
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