Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa channels ’60s horror for new ‘Sabrina’ comic

Oct. 02, 2014 | 12:34 p.m.
sabrina 01 covvar Roberto Aguirre Sacasa channels 60s horror for new Sabrina comic

This variant cover art for "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" No. 1 by Robert Hack takes a "Rosemary's Baby" approach. (Archie Comics)

sabrina 01 01 Roberto Aguirre Sacasa channels 60s horror for new Sabrina comic

Page 1 of "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" No. 1, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Robert Hack. (Archie Comics)

It’s a rather different incarnation of the well-known young witch who will headline “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” the latest Archie Comics series to enjoy a bit of a spooky reboot under the direction of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

The company’s chief creative officer, who last year brought zombies to Riverdale with the ongoing “Afterlife With Archie,” took some interesting inspiration when bringing Sabrina back to the forefront of her own comic — he principally looked to Roman Polanski’s landmark horror film “Rosemary’s Baby” for the 1960s-set origin tale, which presents a darker take on the characters and their adventures than previously seen.

Hero Complex caught up with Aguirre-Sacasa to learn more about the narrative direction and tone of “Sabrina,” and the contributions of artist Robert Hack. Issue No. 1 is set for release Oct. 8.

HC: It’s been five years since Sabrina last had an ongoing series – why is now the right time for her headline her own title?

RAS: I think the best answer is “Afterlife With Archie,” which showed that there’s a definite appetite for taking these beloved characters and putting them in strange, life-threatening situations. And though Sabrina’s a supporting player in “Afterlife,” we all felt strongly that there was enough there, in terms of her character and her mythology, to support an ongoing title, a companion book to “Afterlife.”

HC: “Rosemary’s Baby” was an inspiration for “Sabrina” – that’s an interesting place to start. Why begin there?

RAS: It’s one of my favorite movies, for one. Also, Rosemary’s baby, when it’s born at the end of the movie, is half-mortal, half-diabolical, much like Sabrina is half-mortal, half-witch. So that became a parallel to explore. Also, there’s a great betrayal at the heart of “Rosemary’s Baby,” which I love — Rosemary’s husband betrays Rosemary, which is as scary as anything else in the movie. I wanted that kind of action/gesture in “Sabrina,” between Sabrina’s father Edward and her mother Diana, which is how we open the first issue. Also, I wanted the series to be a period piece, set in the 1960s, so “Rosemary’s Baby” became a touchstone in terms of style and look.

HC: “Afterlife With Archie” stays true to its characters while putting them in an extraordinary situation. Can readers expect a similar approach with “Sabrina”?

RAS: Oh, definitely. Sabrina’s still going to be Sabrina, the aunts are still the aunts, Harvey’s still Harvey, Salem’s still Salem, though they will find themselves in much darker, more psychological stories than they’ve ever been in… And they, themselves, will probably be shaded a bit darker, as well. By the way, the tones of “Afterlife” and “Sabrina” are very different. “Afterlife” is more of a romp, for lack of a better term; “Sabrina” is a slow burn, comparatively. We slowly unwrap the layers of this onion.

HC: What other details can you share about what’s in store in the early installments in the series?

RAS: The first arc, titled “The Crucible,” is an origin story, Sabrina’s dark origin. We meet her as a baby, and follow her as she approaches her 16th birthday. We meet our supporting cast, which is quite expansive, actually. We meet a rival coven of young witches. We also resurrect her first big nemesis for Sabrina — an incarnation of Madame Satan, who’ll be plaguing our girls for many years to come.

HC: What’s the key to writing Sabrina’s interactions with her aunts Hilda and Zelda, and do you plan to tweak those relationships?

RAS: I certainly hope to do a bit more with Hilda and Zelda than we’ve seen before. I’m really using the “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” template with them. These two older spinster women who have never been married — or has one of them been married?— living together, constantly bickering. What do they do for fun? Do they ever go out on dates? What if they both fall for the same gentleman caller? Would they fight? These are all juicy questions which we’ll explore in the series.

HC: Robert Hack is the artist working on the series – what qualities have you seen in his earlier work that you’ve especially enjoyed? Why was he the right artist for “Sabrina”?

RAS: Robert was the first and only artist we reached out to for “Sabrina,” and luckily, he agreed to go on this mad ride with us. We were Facebook friends, I’d seen — and loved — some of the art he’d posted there, and he’d done some covers for us, including a retro-style one he, cheekily, called “Riverdale Confidential,” which I loved. When it became clear that “Sabrina” was going to be a period book, Robert’s style seemed like the perfect fit. The fact that he’s doing all of the art chores on the book — drawing, inking, coloring — really is spectacular.

– Gina McIntyre | @LATHeroComplex | Facebook


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