It’s safe to say that Archie Comics’ Creative Director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is incredibly busy. Currently, the writer is overseeing various TV adaptations of iconic Archie Comics characters on shows like Riverdale and develop the next reboot of Pretty little Liars for HBO Max. Following Netflix’s Last Year’s Conclusion The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Aguirre-Sacasa joins forces with artists Robert Hack and Jack Morelli to relaunch the The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book series, picking up where the first eight issues left off.
In an exclusive interview with CBR, Aguirre-Sacasa discussed the differences between Netflix’s Sabrina series and the comics and also raised the possibility of a Riverdale crossing with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. This interview includes preview pages for CAOS‘# 9, with its main cover and variant, illustrated by Robert Hack and lettered by Jack Morelli.
I don’t need to tell you that, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen a new issue of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. How does it feel to come back?
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: It’s really great and really exciting and long overdue, but it was really fun. It took me back to a simpler time in my life when I was luckily a comic book scribe writing comic book numbers. It was fun going back to where I started, writing for Archie and Marvel, before getting sucked into the Hollywood machine.
As someone who has written for comics, television, film, and the stage, how does comic book medium creatively satisfy you?
Honestly, when I was a kid I never dreamed of being a TV screenwriter. I didn’t know such things existed. I dreamed that it would be amazing to be a comic book writer. I have loved comics since I was little and it was always a childhood passion so it came back to my first love of comics. I think the other important thing is that when you work on a TV show you are ultimately beholden to the studio, the network, the budget, and all the cast and crew you work with. When you’re working on a comic, it’s really you and the artist and the imagination is the limit. I would say it’s probably a purer take on history than it is when you’re doing movies and TV and serving a lot of different gods and the like.
The comic book series came to a halt in the middle of the storyline for “The Witch War”, and, during the hiatus, you led the The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina television adaptation. Did this show tell the story of the comic book or was it something that was still already plotted?
No, after it was purchased by Netflix we took it up a notch and it was a nonstop ride for two or three years and quite tiring. TV shows are 24/7 jobs. After we were done with part 4 we talked about doing part 5 and the fans were so hungry for closure and said, “Is that it? Sabrina is in the afterlife? And I felt like the way to pick up the thread and end the story was to bring the comic back to life but the comic book version of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the Netflix version are not exactly one-to-one correlations, there are differences.
I felt like it would be cheating, after eight issues of the first comic [volume], to start with a new # 1, and yet it seemed like most people knew Sabrina from the The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TV show. This is where we came up with the two-pronged approach of rebooting the comic, where we left off where we left off, and later launching a separate title to pick up the Netflix story where it left off. was happening. Basically, as complicated as we can make it, we did it! [laughs]
I’ve always liked that the comic was darker and more graphic than the TV show, which is wild because the TV show had a giant spider woman. What was it like being able to lean into that again with the comic?
Without a doubt, when you write for actors and for a young audience, it affects your obscurity.
I remember there was a TV screenwriter on SabrinaThe first season of … We went so fast that all of the potential writers had only read the graphic novel with the first five issues. A television and film screenwriter joined on the basis of the graphic novel and, two or three weeks after the start of the [writers] piece, he said, “It’s not as hardcore as the graphic novel!” And, no, it was probably a little less. Shortly after, we broke up because he thought it was going to be really intense and super dark and twisted. While we got pretty dark on the TV show, we’ve avoided some of the taboos that the comics deal with much more easily. The comedy is much more sexual, transgressive, occult and it’s crazy to be able to go in there and push those limits a little more.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the artwork. How are things going again with Robert Hack and Jack Morelli?
Oh my god, Robert has only gotten better! When I got back there I was like, “Who was I when I wrote number 8?” I think, for Robert, it’s so great to get Robert’s pages back. It’s like Christmas – but it was so weird and he’s a real soldier. It’s true that he only improved in the meantime and I’m so grateful to him that he rallied around and it was pretty smooth.
Even with the flawless reunion with Robert, what was it like to regain the free space you had before the Archie TV explosion?
I would say it took a minute. I went back and read all the issues and other comedic work I had done for Marvel and Archie. I went back and started reading and rereading a bunch of comics to put them back in my muscle memory. I would say it took a minute for sure.
I remember when all the press kits first came out for Riverdale, it has been described as Archie’s subversive approach. When working on these characters, what do you want to keep in mind and what do you want to change in either medium?
Funny, there are no hard and fast do’s and don’ts, it’s instinctive.
Over the years we are now writing season 6 of Riverdale – things that we got very nervous about in Season 1, it feels like the characters have retained their essence. In season 6 Archie is kind of everyone’s hero and takes an everyone’s hero journey and there are still elements of the comics that are very true to the series – Veronica is a daddy’s girl, for example. It’s about letting the characters and the stories develop organically and the biggest difference is now the characters have aged. They’re in their 20s now and that changes the DNA of the show a bit and allows us to have Archie and Jughead sitting around drinking beer and it’s totally natural because they’re not teenagers now and we let’s not break any rules. It’s a very porous border in which we operate and discover it episode by episode.
I feel like coming back to comics is liberating for Sabrina just as the time jump is liberating for Riverdale.
Absoutely! Funny, I always say that, even though it’s season 6 of Riverdale, I always tell the writers room to act like we’re in season 1 of this show. Let’s keep this interesting for us and the actors and try not to regress but just keep moving forward and see what we find out.
With Sabrina Getting back to the comics, there are no budget considerations here. The story can expand or contract as much as we want. It is also a testimony of [Co-CEO and Publisher] Jon Goldwater and everyone in Archie Comics who gave me and Robert that freedom. We can go on strange tangents and directions and this part is so satisfying. It really is special. The truth is, I love these characters and still love to write for them and follow my obsession. It’s so rewarding and really special and I’m glad the race continues.
I have to ask: is there any hope for Kiernan Shipka to reprise her role as Sabrina in the future and for a potential crossover with Riverdale?
Yes, there is absolutely hope! I think Kiernan is up for it. I think it’s about finding the right story and making the timing work. I can’t say when but I really think it will happen.
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina # 9 goes on sale October 13 from Archie Comics.
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