Thanks to Dark Horse Comics, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex de Campi, who is currently the writer on Archie vs. Predator in what is another great surprise in the Archie line of books, and is also a completely different Predator book in that the starring Predator is a teenager.
I started off asking Alex if she could sign my copy of the Ashes hardcover graphic novel that I had received as a backer of her successful Kickstarter campaign. She was thrilled to sign it and asked if I was familiar with her new book No Mercy with Carla Speed McNeil and Jenn Manley Lee. When I told her no, she was nice enough to give me a copy and let me know that the first four books were out now.
Most of the interview focused on Archie vs. Predator, so if you have not read the series, beware, there are spoilers ahead. This is your only warning.
Joshua Stone: When they came to you and offered you Archie vs. Predator, what was your initial reaction and what is your history with the characters?
Alex de Campi: Oh I said yes immediately, duh. I also immediately saw how they approached me because of Grindhouse , my exploitation horror series, because they know I can write teenagers, they know I can write monsters, they know I can write teenagers dying, and comedy as well. They said can you do this? I immediately saw it as a teen slasher film. Everyone's like how do you make this crazy concept work? Obviously a teen slasher film, the teenagers are the Archie kids and Michael Myers is Predator and off you go. That's how it has worked the whole time. It even starts at spring break, so how much more Camp Crystal Lake can you get.
JS: The couple off by themselves.
AC: Exactly. So yeah, I immediately jumped at it. I love to make teenagers die. It's one of my favorite things to do. And I love Predator. The first Predator movie is my happy place. I can recite most of the dialog. I think everyone has seen the Easter Eggs I've put in. There are more. There's a particularly awesome one in issue four. I did miss the chance to say "something spooks Jughead" and that hurts me to this day. I thought of it just as they were sending issue three off to press. I'm like but, and they're like no it's gone. And the Archie characters, you know I grew up reading Archie and I wanted to make really sure that this was a good Archie book too. That fans of both franchises could come and they could be respected and that they could get what they want out of the book. Predator – violent death and spooky Predator, and Predator being awesome and racking up scary unexpected kills. Archie – like sweetness and light, and romance, and intense heart eyes, and tripping over things and hamburgers. I think we achieved that which is pretty impressive.
One of the fun things about doing Archie books is that Archie books are fundamentally nonsense machines. Crazy stuff can happen and everyone is like "ok", and that's kind of like how comics used to be and now we have to be all grim and gritty and realistic and would it happen in real life. For Archie vs. Predator we just suspended all of that. We just had crazy stuff happening and made it as much fun as we possibly could.
JS: I think after Afterlife with Archie and the Sabrina books though people's mindset, at least comic book people, of Archie has changed now too.
AdC: Those books are very dark and they're not very funny.
JS: No, they're not, but they're great.
AdC: They are fabulous everyone should buy them. Roberto (Aguirre-Sacasa) is an amazing writer, but we are more of an Archie splatterverse, not the Archie horrorverse.
JS: Yes, and I found this actually more shocking, because that strong Francavilla artwork that's amazing, is drawn completely different but this is drawn Archie style.
JS: And to see the deaths and to see everything in the Archie style.
AdC: The Archie artists are putting so much love into this, Fernando (Ruiz) and Rich (Koslowski) and Jason (Millet). Fernando is the penciler and Rich the inker. Rich is a writer and cartoonist on his own merit, you should see him in Artist's Alley, his work is amazing. (Author's Note: She's right, Koslowski is awesome. Check out The King, Three Fingers, and The 3 Geeks which I own an awesome full page original splash page from.) And Jason who does the colors, they've being doing the work of their lives on this. They feel so reenergized, it's just so much fun and so much crazy stuff happens. Fernando is just like – You're giving me all these exciting things to draw.
JS: I read issue three today, so I have a question.
JS: Now, in less than two years, Jughead has been killed twice, in Afterlife with Archie that's how they kicked it off and now in issue three. Who has it out for Jughead?
AdC: I love Jughead. I'm really excited for the new Chip Zdarsky Jughead book. I love the way Fiona Staples draws Jughead. I just want to start responding to everything online with Jughead reaction gifs, because he's the best. But you know, in some ways Betty and Veronica aren't who you damsel when you want to affect Archie, it's Jughead who's the damsel.
JS: He's the life partner.
AdC: Yes. He's work life. I think Jughead gets it because it's also really hard to split Betty and Veronica because it's Archie cannon that he never will choose between them and that he will never be forced to choose in terms of one being killed and the other one living. They come as a pair. They live together, they die together.
JS: Archie's Choice, like Sophie's Choice.
AdC: Exactly. I think that's why Jughead get's damseled so much, though he's a really fun character and I'm glad to see more being done with him because he's a character that really needs more exploration. We had a lot of fun with the Jughead/Mind Mgmt crossover in the back of three.
JS: Are you going to be doing some more Archie at the end of this?
AdC: I really want to. I have to go speak to them tomorrow, I'm signing there. I think Adam Hughes is writing Betty and Veronica. I would love to grab Betty and Veronica or Josie and the Pussycats. We did a great Josie backup for issue four with Carla Speed McNeil and Carla and I would love to do Josie.
JS: Fantastic. Thank you for your time.
AdC: Thank you.