The Archie Horror line began with a zombie infestation of Riverdale in Afterlife With Archie, and since then, the imprint has expanded by fusing classic monster concepts with Archie character. Jughead became a werewolf in Jughead: The Hunger, and the new series Vampironica turns Veronica Lodge into a deadly bloodsucker. Vampironica is the writing debut of Dream Thief and Moon Knight artist Greg Smallwood, and he’s partnering with his sister Meg as co-writer to lead Veronica into this terrifying new stage of her life.
“I approached the folks at Archie about doing an Archie Horror book after working with them on covers for their New Riverdale line and seeing the inventive way they were using the characters in various horror genres,” says Greg Smallwood. “I lobbied for the Vampironica job and brought my sister on board to help. Meg is a natural storyteller with an excellent ear for dialogue and I knew she would elevate the writing. She’s also the biggest Archie fan I know so she brings an encyclopedic knowledge of Riverdale denizens to the table as well.”
“I believe that the Riverdale TV show has really added to the excitement of the Archie Horror universe,” says Meg Smallwood. “I’ve conversed with other fans of the show who have never picked up a comic book in their life, but now find themselves seeking out the Archie Horror titles.”
“There are a lot of comics out there that rely solely on gimmicks to pull people in but Meg and I were careful not to do that with Vampironica,” says Greg. “It would have been easy to deliver some novelty-driven scenes with Veronica randomly biting her friends and looking sexy but we were determined to write and draw a coherent story with strong characterizations and real heart. Vampironica is Veronica’s chance to shine as a character and show off dimensions to her personality that haven’t yet been revealed. In my mind, vampirism is about temptation. It’s lust for power, sex, and whatever else the vampire might want. Veronica is tempted throughout the story to turn on her friends, take want she wants, and kill her enemies. How she reacts to those temptations reveals her true character.”
This exclusive preview of next week’s Vampironica #1 introduces readers to this new Veronica, who is channeling a lot of Buffy despite being one of the monsters she’s slaying. Greg’s artwork brings a lot of style, energy, and tension to these pages, and he’s does phenomenal work channeling the classic Archie spirit within a more modern visual aesthetic. Red and blue contrast heighten the intensity of this opening action sequence, and there’s a strong tonal shift when the story jumps back in time to Veronica’s carefree time as a human cheerleader.
“Working with my sister on Vampironica has been an absolute blast,” says Greg. “We’ve had disagreements regarding storytelling in the past but we’re of the same mind when it comes to Vampironica. The comic is written by both of us but it reads like a singular vision. Because we both grew up on Archie comics, we didn’t have to waste time figuring out who these characters are. Meg especially has Veronica’s voice down pat. When it comes to Veronica’s dialogue, I usually defer to my sister.”
“Vampironica is such a labor of love for me,” says Meg. “I was a die-hard Archie fanatic when I was little, so it’s amazing for me to experience how Archie has grown with me. The Archie Horror universe presents teens dealing with very adult concepts. Part of being a teenager and growing up is learning to wrestle with more adult concepts, so why shouldn’t their comic book counterparts wrestle with adult concepts as well? I believe that horror is the best genre for evoking this growth. Seeing how your favorite characters experience and survive horrific events serves as a great metaphor for what it feels like to have to grow up.”