Wednesday's New Thing: Rucka and Lark (SQUEE!)

Lazarus #1 by Greg Ruck and Michael Lark, who, you know, are two thirds of the team that brought us this

Francesco Francavilla Draws Archie Back From The Dead

These have been floating around for a while now, more than a week I think, but they're so great that they're worth sharing anyway:

Here's the solicitation: 
WRITTEN BY: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
ART BY: Francesco Francavilla, Jack Morelli
COVER: Francesco Francavilla
PRICE: $2.99
NEW ONGOING SERIES! “Escape From Riverdale”—This is how the end of the world begins… Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Stephen King’s Carrie, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) and Eisner-winning artist Francesco Francavilla (Batman, Black Beetle) take Archie and the gang where they’ve never been before—to the grave and back! A horrific accident sets off a series of grim events and Sabrina the Teenage Witch must try to repair the unspeakable evil her spell has unleashed. Gasp in horror as Riverdale faces an impending zombie Arch-pocalypse in this brand-new, spine-tingling ongoing series—but be warned, kiddies, this one’s not for the faint of heart! For TEEN+ readers.
I think that this is an absolutely fabulous idea. Archie may be just a little late to the most recent, Walking Dead catalyzed, zombie game (the undead are eternal, I guess) but something like this must be a good way into a couple of demographics who tend to stay out of Riverdale. There's the eternally hungry zombie folk, obviously, the people attracted by the sheer absurdity of an Archie zombie comic (what could that be, even?!), and those people (I count myself among this group and also the previous one) who are so impressed by Francesco Francavilla that they'll buy an Archie zombie comic. While the first group probably intersects pretty well with bookstore buyers, therefore also intersects with the group of people who tend to see Archie comics on an at least somewhat general basis, I wonder how often the other two groups (and those in the first group who pull The Walking Dead every month) encounter those comics, or Jughead, or Betty & Veronica, or Sabrina the Teenage Witch, outside of their local drugstore. 

The last time I encountered an Archie comic in my natural habitat, I was in Austin, at a comic book store of considerable size (everything really is bigger in Texas). Noticing a book of significant girth on the new collections shelf, and thinking about the then-new Lone Wolf & Cub omnibus I had shelved (and then thought about buying and passed on, something I have since done two more times, both in Colorado Springs this past week) at Jon's Carmine Street Comics, in Manhattan, a couple of days earlier. When I walked over and picked it up, intending, apparently, to think about buying Lone Wolf & Cub and put it back down, I realized that it was, in fact, a six-hundred page Archie triple digest, which I did indeed put back down. In hindsight, I think that it's not only the last time I've met Archie in a comic shop, it's also the only time. I don't even think I've ever actually read one, which seems like a real shame, and I don't think I know anyone who reads them regularly. I don't even really have a good idea of who buys Archie comics-- my initial impulse is that kids by it, or that parents buy them for their kids, but I'm not really sure that that's true.

Surely, the company knows this; looking over their September solicitations (which, tellingly, are most readily available at Major Spoilers and not CBR or Newsarama), you'll see a second book with a little bit of crossover appeal, Archie #648: "The Clod of Thunder," written by Tom DeFalco. Notice also that Afterlife With Archie is written by a veteran of the television show Glee for TEEN+ readers, and it becomes clear that their are two separate target demographics for all of the Archie books; teens and nostalgia readers (for whom a DeFalco written Thor parody with a Walt Simonson variant cover is probably doubly appealing, or which, perhaps instead, is appealing to two different kinds of nostalgics). The question, of course, is how readily do those folks buy Archie comics? How readily are they even available to those people? And is it possible to get other people interested? In this context, series like Afterlife With Archie, and the company's recent turn towards archival 'Best Of' trade paperbacks for bookstore distribution, which, again, should be appealing to the casual drug store buyer, the Archie faithful, and comics people of other sorts, make complete sense, and, moreover, seem like instant winners. They've certainly managed to get me, snobby snit that I am, interested.