An Interview With ‘Archie Vs. The World’ Creators Aubrey Sitterson And Jed Dougherty
by Rachel Bellwoar
Coming this January … it’s a Mad Max world and the residents of Riverdale are just trying to survive in it. From writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Jed Dougherty comes a new one-shot set in a post-apocalyptic universe. Archie vs. the World might not be the town with pep you remember, but it is a Riverdale you won’t soon forget.
With colors by Matt Herms and letters by Jack Morelli, find out more about what’s in store in this interview done over email with Sitterson and Dougherty.
Rachel Bellwoar: According to the press release, it was editor Jamie L. Rotante who raised the idea of doing a Mad Max-inspired issue of Archie. What about that idea captured your imagination the most?
Aubrey Sitterson: Truthfully, the biggest thing that appealed to me was the opportunity to once again work with Archie generally and Jamie specifically. I’m almost exclusively known for my creator-owned work like Jed and my Savage Hearts, so I’m accustomed to a significant amount of freedom that doesn’t always exist when working with already established characters. However, I was blown away by the experience of working on The Best Archie Comic Ever and the incredible freedom that Jed and I were trusted with to tell our story. The opportunity to once again cut loose in the Archie sandbox – this time with a full issue to spread out in – was irresistible. The fact that we also got to play around with Mad Max and apocalyptic wasteland tropes was icing on the cake!
RB: Traditionally, Archie usually derives strength from his friends, but the title suggests he’ll be on his own for this one-shot. What does the world have against Archie, and will his newfound martial art skills help even the odds?
AS: I’m wary of giving away too many details before the book is in readers’ hands, but suffice to say that you are speaking directly to what this book is really, truly about: The importance of friendship and community when the entire world has fallen apart. It’s not so much that the world has something against Archie but, rather, that the world has become a hostile, violent, inhospitable place for absolutely anyone trying to carve out a life for themselves. As you mentioned, our Archie is in possession of incredible martial arts talents and, over the course of this issue, you’ll see him struggle with the difficult questions of how and when to use them and for what purpose.
RB: When it comes to opposites, the focus tends to be on Betty and Veronica. Why explore the relationship between Archie and Reggie?
AS: I believe that fictional characters – like much else in our world – are often best defined by their opposites. If you’d never seen the color black, could you fully appreciate the color white? Likewise, if we want to position Archie as noble, selfless, and valiant – a hero – then we need to juxtapose him with the opposite, a figure consumed by resentment and jealousy, with a sense of entitlement as big as the chip on his shoulder. But still, even with the drastic differences between the two, I think it’s the similarities that really cause this rivalry to take form and sing over the course of our story: Archie is a reluctant hero and Reggie resents his spot as second best. Neither is content or happy with the life they find themselves living; their differences arise from their similarities even as their similarities spring forth from their differences.
RB: Reggie was also the antagonist in your story for The Best Archie Comic Ever! (“Jughead the Burgarian”). Do you think Reggie is capable of reform, as some stories have explored, or will he always be more “enemy” than “frenemy”?
AS: I think Reggie is capable of whatever a creator chooses to do with him! This is precisely the strength of Archie’s cast of characters: They’re powerful archetypes that can be placed within any genre imaginable, as long as the creators are up to the task of balancing the truth of the characters with the requirements of the genre. And when it comes to the requirements of a sword and sorcery story or a high-octane, post-apocalyptic, martial arts epic … the hero simply must have a villain to square off against.
RB: In regards to character designs, which Riverdale resident was the most fun to Mad Max-ify?
Jed Dougherty: We have a pretty good rapport after working on Savage Hearts together – early on Aubrey and I toss ideas back and forth to sort of build up a world for the story. For this project, Aubrey’s pitch was “Archie seen through the lens of Fist of the North Star.” Working from that, I was able to rough out some ideas for the main cast in a day or so. It’s always a delight when an idea just coalesces like that. The Pussycats as feral metalheads were also a joy to draw.
RB: Were there any other visual cues you took from the Mad Max movies or that inspired how you approached the art for this one-shot?
JD: Of course, Josie’s flamethrower guitar is an homage to the Doof Warrior. Tina Turner’s disheveled glam in Beyond the Thunderdome inspired me while drawing Cheryl Blossom as Queen of the Wasteland. The dog skulls from Blood of Heroes make a cameo appearance. The numerous bits of action with Archie’s Model-T are my best attempts at matching the automotive lunacy of Fury Road.
RB: Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Aubrey and Jed!
Archie vs. the World goes on sale January 18th from Archie Comics.