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INTERVIEW: Alex Segura Talks Archie, Writing Mysteries & His Editing Philosophy

INTERVIEW: Alex Segura Talks Archie, Writing Mysteries & His Editing Philosophy

Alex Segura has had an fascinating profession inside and out of doors of comics. He’s at present the Co-President of Archie Comics; he wrote or co-wrote a couple of problems with Archie, together with Archie Meets KISS and The Archies, however a lot of his writing has been outdoors of comics. He’s written 4 novels that includes reporter-turned-private-investigator Pete Fernandez. He additionally co-wrote the podcast Deadly Lit, which was launched final yr.

Segura has edited many comics through the years, however he took over modifying the flagship title Archie with challenge #700, when Nick Spencer took over writing the ebook. Segura and I’ve recognized one another professionally for years, however we’ve by no means sat down and carried out an interview. Together with his new editorial job and a brand new novel, Miami Midnight, popping out in August, it was a chance to speak with Segura concerning the many hats he wears, approaching character and plot, and his editorial philosophy.

Alex Dueben: You’ve been modifying for years now, however you latterly took over modifying Archie with the brand new numbering as Nick Spencer took over writing. What was behind choice to relaunch the guide on this method?

Alex Segura: The thought was that Mark [Waid] had had such an epic, iconic run that reintroduced Archie and his associates for a extra trendy viewers – and it labored so properly. 32 points is a reasonably superb run today. We knew we needed to remain in that framework that Mark had laid out. We didn’t need to deviate an excessive amount of from it, however we needed a unique taste and to have a component of noir and darkness whereas nonetheless retaining the overall humor and characterization and friendship that had actually made the e-book a hit.

I knew Nick Spencer based mostly on his personal work and I knew he was an Archie fan. To me, the right individual to put in writing Archie is somebody who has a background with Archie however can also be gifted. We clearly need somebody who’s gifted, however familiarity with the characters is absolutely necessary. It feels stronger and purer, I assume, if there’s a way of character. You possibly can put Archie in several conditions – you’ll be able to have the Predator chase him, you possibly can have him assembly KISS, you possibly can have him interacting with Batman, but when Archie isn’t Archie, it feels pressured. It looks like a gag. Mark did such an incredible job boiling it down. That first scene the place Archie is opening his locker and saying, that is my life, that seems like Archie. I wanted somebody that was accustomed to the characters however was additionally going to return to the desk and alter issues up in a means that didn’t really feel like a seismic change however would really feel somewhat totally different. That might evoke the [Riverdale] present however didn’t really feel like an episode of the present.

Dueben: It looks like Nick’s run to date is taking cues from the TV present but in addition working and shifting in several instructions.

Segura: That was intentional. If it feels an excessive amount of just like the present, it’s the Riverdale comedian or it ought to simply be an episode of the present. I feel that’s one thing comics has hassle with. I’m not saying we’re doing it completely proper, however typically you’ll see the supply materials begin to veer in the direction of totally different iterations to tug in that viewers. Simply because there’s a TV present based mostly on this superhero with a supporting character that isn’t within the comics, doesn’t imply it’s a must to introduce that character within the comics. We needed to evoke the present and the issues that make the present work — the thriller, the drama — but in addition retain what stored the comedian fashionable and what stored individuals studying it. I feel it will have been very straightforward to say, this can be a new #1 and this can be a new leaping on level however I felt we might do this with #700. That was one thing we debated internally lots and our CEO Jon Goldwater stated, “let’s embrace historical past.” It tells followers that that is necessary and that every little thing that got here earlier than issues.

Dueben: A method it helps to distinguish is Marguerite Sauvage’s artwork and coloring, which actually assist set up a special tone from the present and assist to make the comedian its personal factor.

Segura: Marguerite has finished a incredible job for us on the covers for therefore lengthy. I actually needed to work together with her on interiors for a while and it simply appeared to sync up completely. She brings this lovely line artwork and design sense and elegance. It’s very Archie. When she attracts Betty and Veronica, you are feeling, that’s them. It evokes the relaunch in some methods. We had Mark are available and we knew the story can be nice however in some methods it was Fiona’s visible look that recalibrated the entire thing. His story was pitch good and it labored rather well, however you wanted that trendy look. You wanted Fiona to return in and re-imagine the visuals. If it had been drawn in a extra basic means it will have felt like a special story.

I feel Marguerite had the identical impact on Nick’s story. It made it really feel totally different and particular. I remorse that she couldn’t be on the ebook for longer. We have been actually fortunate to have Sandy Jarrell who we’d had within the queue as the subsequent artist and he’s actually evoking her artwork in some methods nevertheless it’s additionally him. He’s not making an attempt to attract like someone else. He’s doing an ideal job. I feel it’s his greatest work.

Inside web page from Archie #703. Author: Nick Spencer, Artist: Sandy Jarrell, Colorist: Matt Herms, Letterer: Jack Morelli.


Inside web page from Archie #703. Author: Nick Spencer, Artist: Sandy Jarrell, Colorist: Matt Herms, Letterer: Jack Morelli.


Inside web page from Archie #703. Author: Nick Spencer, Artist: Sandy Jarrell, Colorist: Matt Herms, Letterer: Jack Morelli.

Dueben: And Marguerite stands out after Audrey’s nice run on the e-book as artist. There’s been this dialog about Archie having a “home fashion” regardless of having some very totally different artists.

Segura: When you have any information of the artwork — even “basic Archie,” which is such a broad time period — Samm Schwartz’s artwork doesn’t look rather a lot like Dan DeCarlo’s artwork doesn’t look rather a lot like Harry Lucey’s artwork. They’re all engaged on an algorithm, however even Bob Montana, who began drawing the characters a sure method at a sure level, began drawing them like DeCarlo drew them. [“Classic Archie” is] a really broad time period. Audrey did a implausible job. She was such a discover. Archie has typically been stumbling throughout these artists like Audrey, who began on Josie and simply knocked it out of the park earlier than engaged on Archie, or Veronica Fish, who’s drawing Sabrina. Marguerite has achieved work for just about everybody so I can’t lay any declare to discovering her, however she’s incredible.

Dueben: Whenever you have been taking up modifying the ebook and speaking to Nick, was the plan from the outset to inform a serialized story? As a result of this isn’t one thing that Archie had finished on this method earlier than the relaunch.

Segura: Proper. An enormous distinction between Archie and mainstream comics for many years was that Archie was far more of a sitcom strategy versus the dramatic saga going again many years. With the Mark and Fiona run, that modified, and it modified the road. Stuff like Afterlife with Archie had an ongoing narrative. We’ll proceed with that and Nick has an incredible deal with on the characters and we’ve a couple of surprises up our sleeves, too, which can be enjoyable.

Nick’s second arc on the e-book goes to be retitled Archie and Sabrina as a result of the large plot reveal from the primary few points is that Archie has been on this secret relationship with Sabrina Spellman and so it made sense to re-title the ebook for that arc. That lets individuals know, that is going to be the main target of this story. That may give readers an opportunity to know when to hop in and what the theme shall be for the subsequent arc.

Dueben: Having learn your novels, you appear very involved with construction and plotting. There are many crime novels and comics that do each poorly, however we love them anyway. However I really feel like this carries over into your modifying, and is necessary at Archie now.

Segura: I hate give it some thought in monetary phrases, however it’s concerning the worth of your greenback. If you purchased a digest 15 years in the past — or once I purchased them as a child — I used to be getting lots of tales for little or no of my mother and father’ cash. I put down a pair bucks and received 200 pages of comics. The standard and the amount was there. At present, individuals are paying Four-5 bucks for a comic book guide and it’s 20 pages and it needs to be vital. The problem is that we’ve decompressed the storytelling a lot.

As an business, there was that second when individuals realized, I can simply write to the commerce and I feel that novelty or that cushion has worn off. The window for fulfillment is far shorter. You need to seize individuals instantly as a result of you want to survive in a single market earlier than you will get to the subsequent one, if that is sensible. I really feel like every problem must be impactful. I take into consideration that when it comes to the novels, too. Individuals are paying $25 for a hardcover or $10 bucks for an e book and it’s a must to entertain — until the objective is one thing else, however for me, it’s about leisure. I would like individuals to be stunned by the ending. I would like individuals to really feel just like the characters have advanced sufficient to benefit their engagement. It doesn’t need to be fan service; you don’t have to only give them what they need. The saying is that you simply give them what they want or what they don’t know that they need. You need to entertain them. It’s a must to get a response.

Editorially, that’s a problem. I train this class on Litreactor about comedian ebook pitching, the place I assist college students type their concepts right into a pitch. Some have turn into comics, which is gratifying in some ways. One of many huge issues that I all the time inform them is that you must know easy methods to tempo the story. You possibly can’t simply say, this occurs after which that occurs. You must present the editor that you would be able to break it down by problem, and have a starting and center and finish and unfold out your twists. You’ll be able to’t simply info-dump the story. I feel that performs into any type of leisure. It’s a must to plan it. A whole lot of that may come on the entrance finish or it may are available revision, however it’s going to return someway. Or it’s simply not going to work. I feel it’s a lot more durable with novels since you need to maintain your self entertained. I feel readers get that. They will inform when a shock is deliberate or if it’s one thing you simply threw in there since you don’t know what you’re doing otherwise you’re determined to get a response. Which isn’t what you need.

Dueben: In every novel you’ve written, and in comics you’ve written as properly, the story has an arc however so do the characters.

Segura: With the novels individuals ask, how do you map your tales out? I feel, what’s the story I need to write, unbiased of character? What do I need to write about thematically? What are the issues I’m obsessing over? What do I would like the character to do? The place do I would like Pete be originally and the place do I would like him to be on the finish?

For one thing like The Archies, Matt Rosenberg and I actually needed to inform the story of a band. No frills. That is what occurs once you go on tour; these are the problems you face. We knew that the e-book wasn’t going to run endlessly, we simply didn’t know the place it was going to finish, so we all the time had the final problem in our again pocket. As soon as we knew the ebook was ending, we began planting the seeds for the ultimate one. We knew that the band would break up and that the story was actually about friendship. We had that character arc and the way it weaves into the mechanics of the story. That sounds mundane, however it’s concerning the character and the way it weaves into the plot. For me, it’s character first.

Dueben: Writing Archie books, you’re coping with characters who don’t change a lot so it’s a must to discover this emotional arc.

Segura: The phantasm of change, which was mentioned lots within the Bronze Age of comics. I’ve been rereading plenty of previous Batman comics. I don’t know why; it’s simply consolation. You will have these lengthy, epic runs by Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Doug Moench. They’re all writing the character for 20-30-odd points and so much “modifications” however then it easily comes again into place. I feel that’s what we’ve got to do, particularly with [intellectual property] that’s been round longer than we’ve been alive and doubtless will probably be round for much longer after we’re gone. You must write moments of change and drama and suspense, but in addition have the ability to capable of recalibrate it down the road with out being too dramatic about it.

With The Archies ebook, there’s change and drama and suspense, however by the top, they’re again to the place they have been earlier than. You would select to disregard the story utterly — and to not reduce the work all of us put in — however it doesn’t the change the characters. As a result of you’ll be able to’t. It’s not our place. We’ve got to be caretakers of those characters and that’s how I see it once we’re working, particularly on the mainline books. With a whole lot of the choice takes like Afterlife or Jughead the Starvation, we now have much more wiggle room. You’ll be able to kill a personality or you possibly can alter the connection dynamics, and that’s the place the enjoyable is, seeing the twists on the preconceived concepts of those characters. So you’ll be able to have your cake and eat it, too.

Dueben: I used to be going to say that Vixens takes these characters and their relationship however the story could be very totally different.

Segura: Vixens was such a enjoyable e-book and I really feel prefer it’s between the mainline Archie books and the choice horror books. Conceivably, Vixens might have occurred in “continuity,” though we don’t have a tough and quick continuity. However yeah there’s that room to tweak issues and alter issues and take totally different approaches. It’s a check of how versatile the characters are, which is a variety of enjoyable.

Dueben: How do you examine that strategy in Archie to thriller novel characters like Lew Archer or Poirot who don’t change a lot?

Segura: I feel it’s very comparable. I feel the intentions are totally different. When it comes to a personal eye or a criminal offense novel protagonist, there are two paths. There’s the evergreen protagonist the place it’s very plot pushed, like an episode of Regulation and Order the place it’s extra concerning the case and fewer about these progressive plot twists that change the character. Then there’s the evolving character. I solely use these phrases as a result of I train a PI class and people are the 2 paths that I feel the style does. In trendy PI, novels you’re both one or the opposite. I’ve but to see a blended one.

The problem is that the evolving PI has a shelf life. You possibly can solely actually pull your character by means of the conditions so many occasions and alter them so many occasions earlier than somebody says, “that is exhausting.” You don’t know what the plateau is. You’ll discover that in some collection will begin as an evolving PI after which hit this level the place that is the place the character is and this would be the established order for 4 or 5 books after which begin evolving rather more slowly.

Then you’ve got the perennial PIs who’re by no means altering. Lew Archer does not likely change. Marlowe does not likely change. You get inklings of what their historical past was nevertheless it’s by no means actually affecting their day-to-day. It’s far more about evil and the psychology of the villain and issues like that, which is fascinating. There’s a number of consolation in studying these sorts of books as a result of you’ll be able to burn via loads of them. However for my very own writing and my very own pursuits, it’s about evolving and displaying these characters altering and failing and turning into one thing else.

Dueben: In that sense, these characters are extra like Batman. It’s concerning the case and the villain and the story, however then finally, they finish in the identical place they began.

Segura: In comics, I feel there’s virtually this resistance to erasing that. To saying that these characters are who they’re and you may have this phantasm of change. I really feel just like the viewers typically needs change, however then they get mad when the change is everlasting. Its virtually this push and pull. You’ve obtained these reboots and these earth-shattering modifications like character deaths or murdering supporting characters after which as a reader and as readers for many years, you begin to see that this stuff are usually not everlasting. There’s a type of cognitive dissonance there. You need to simply let go. You need followers to simply accept that this stuff are fluid. And that’s okay. And that each one this stuff can occur on the similar time. Simply settle for the multiverse and settle for these totally different iterations and there’s no definitive continuity — and that’s okay. It’s all a metafiction. That’s simply the problem we face placing these books out.

Dueben: Speaking about altering and the multiverse, Archie 1941 and Archie Meets Batman ’66 each simply wrapped up. The success of Afterlife with Archie actually appears to make everybody on the firm go, “individuals settle for and like variations on the characters, let’s mess around with it extra.”

Segura: I feel individuals are open to the pliability of the characters, so long as they really feel true to how individuals assume the characters are. It’s not simply the dynamics of the romance, however how they behave. Jughead is Archie’s greatest pal. Betty and Veronica are typically aggressive however they’re virtually sister-like of their friendship. Archie is that this everyman hero. With these parts, you’ll be able to put them virtually anyplace. You are able to do Jughead’s Time Police or make Veronica a vampire or make Betty a werewolf hunter. It looks like issues are being pushed in several instructions by levels and the exterior stuff is altering, however the characters are the identical. It additionally opens the door to loads of prospects when it comes to tales, so that you’re not simply locked into the teenager highschool cleaning soap opera.

I feel the primary time we noticed the potential for that was with the marriage, the place we jumped ahead and also you see Archie getting married and these two alternate timelines and that turned Life with Archie, which was for a few years the flagship when it comes to pushing the story ahead. Then Afterlife actually kicked the doorways down. Who would assume that one of many main horror publishers in comics can be Archie? I wish to assume it’s true. We put out persistently high-quality horror books and we’ve got for a while. There’s immediate familiarity with these characters and you then put them in these excessive settings which might be achieved rather well and that’s obtained a built-in viewers. I feel we’ll see much more of that.

Dueben: Sabrina, I feel, has been modified probably the most. The comedian greater than the TV present, which is admittedly horrifying and nicely executed.

Segura: It’s terrifying, psychological horror. I feel it may be extra disturbing than Afterlife, which is saying rather a lot. Then you could have the present, which pulls from that in nice methods. It’s been actually thrilling to see that evolve and to know that followers are snug with totally different iterations of the character. That basically terrifying horror model is there, however they’re fantastic with the teenager, enjoyable, comedic model. This stuff can coexist and there’s no definitive model that trumps the remaining.

Dueben: One factor that Archie has executed sporadically through the years is superheroes and also you oversaw a revival few years in the past.

Segura: Once I got here again to Archie, we rebooted the heroes and it turned Darkish Circle and we revealed The Fox, The Black Hood, The Defend and The Hangman. It’s a troublesome marketplace for superheroes. With the primary superhero publishers growing their output — a number of the core titles like X-Males, Spider-Man, Batman are being revealed twice a month — I can’t fault the retailer for going with a recognized commodity over one thing unknown with a restricted monitor report. I’m actually pleased with these iterations. They did okay within the direct market they usually’ve flourished within the ebook market as a result of the tales are good. It’s a problem. The profit at Archie is that we’ve got this secure of characters for such a very long time courting again to the Golden Age. The problem is, how can we put these on the market in a brand new means and set them up for fulfillment? It made sense to give attention to the stuff that was working just like the horror books, the primary Archie books, and let the heroes relaxation. It’s a difficult marketplace for a brand new collection.

Dueben: You’ve gotten a brand new novel out this summer time and in every of your novels you cope with a number of timelines. Pete’s journey is echoed by means of the trauma and confusion of when he was youthful and the way it performs out within the current. Are you persevering with to mirror that sense of private historical past and bigger historical past mirrored within the tales on this one as properly?

Segura: Undoubtedly. I feel in some ways, this fifth guide is a concluding chapter of this primary arc of his story. It’ll cope with a narrative that I wasn’t prepared to inform about Pete till now. I noticed after writing the primary guide that we don’t find out about this a part of the character’s life. It was simply discovering the suitable solution to discover it. With this e-book, it felt like the best time.

The story is principally, what occurred to Pete’s mother? We by no means hear about his mother or know her story. We presume that she died when he was younger and that’s it. A part of this new novel is his discovering that there’s extra to her demise than what he thought. That throws his whole worldview into disarray. His father — who Pete worships, who he thinks was this legendary detective — gave him the flawed info and that basically shakes him to his core. That ties right into a case he’s engaged on within the current day and this journey he’s been on to determine what he needs to do. I really feel prefer it’s been in entrance of his face however typically the issues that your folks or your loved ones inform you that you must do, you ignore till you will have your personal second of discovery.

That’s what this guide is about. Pete lastly determining what he needs to do now that he’s gotten previous the preliminary chaos of habit and restoration. So he wants to determine how you can proceed and stay with this. There’s extra to it than that, clearly. Violence and conspiracy and gunplay. I’ve been listening to jazz, so there’s loads of that in there. It’s been enjoyable to write down, however undoubtedly the toughest to put in writing. You begin to really feel hooked up to those characters and from one perspective, you understand that it’s time to place them away for some time. A part of you doesn’t need to. It was arduous to say, “now I’m going to put in writing this scene the place this individual dies,” or the scene the place Pete discovers this factor that may change him ceaselessly. No one stated it was straightforward.

Cover of Miami Midnight by Alex Segura

Dueben: Are you planning to write down extra Pete novels?

Segura: I feel, sure. Perhaps down the street I’ll come again and see the place he’s. By the top of this ebook, he’ll be at some extent the place he’s achieved a brand new established order. We’ll see him at full energy as a personal investigator which recalibrates issues. I can see myself revisiting the collection, however it in all probability wouldn’t be for a short while.

I’ve a number of concepts for stand-alones that I need to do the place the tales don’t must be 5 books lengthy. I’ve obtained a couple of creator-owned comics which are in several levels of existence. I wrote a podcast final yr that did rather well and it was a brand new world and means of writing that was actually enjoyable. However I’m actually grateful to the Pete books as a result of writing 5 books in about 5 years is a crash course in plot and character. And forcing your self to write down as an alternative of ready for lightning to strike, which I feel is a superb lesson to study.

Dueben: As you stated, you helped write a podcast collection which got here out final yr. It was episodic, it was a thriller, however audio drama actually is its personal beast.

Segura: Heather Einhorn and Adam Staffaroni, who run EEP — Einhorn’s Epic Productions — reached out to me. We’ve recognized one another a very long time. They needed to do a thriller YA podcast and we did a whole lot of brainstorming and introduced in Monica and laid out the story. We needed to break it down by episode and we needed to be aware of time. In comics, you possibly can write much less and let the artwork drive it, and in a podcast it’s the audio. The door creeping open, footsteps down the corridor. All this stuff that you simply don’t take into consideration when writing a comic book. There was a whole lot of studying there along with making an attempt to construct a compelling thriller that felt significant and arrange this world and these characters and was entertaining. It was fascinating. I might do it once more.

It provides you a way of what it’s wish to work in Hollywood. With novels, you’re very remoted and also you’re in your personal head. By the point someone else will get to it, you’ve created it and it exists so that you’re going to get suggestions nevertheless it’s a lot later within the recreation. With comics and podcasts, individuals are alongside for the journey. It’s collaborative and it’s a must to be open to that. Working with Monica and Adam and Heather was enjoyable. It was a very good group effort and it’s very totally different from engaged on a novel, however I appreciated it.

I’m all the time up for collaboration. I co-write comics rather a lot, which I feel is enjoyable. Working with Matt on The Archies, we each had very totally different types and we have been democratic with how we cut up up the script, however then we’d commerce off and tweak one another’s work and it turned larger than the sum of its elements. I’m all the time up for collaborating with somebody who’s prepared to step away from their ego and let go. You need to be okay with somebody altering your phrases, which not everyone seems to be.

Dueben: Making creator-owned comics is someplace in between writing novels and these very collaborative efforts.

Segura: Should you’re doing company-owned characters, there’s all the time somebody who can say, Jughead gained’t do this. You’ll be able to’t inherently alter the character. Whereas within the novels, if I would like Pete to do one thing, I’m the arbiter of that. With creator-owned comics you are able to do that too, however you need to get the sign-off out of your co-creators and the individuals within the trenches with you. You need to construct a staff they usually should all be invested. There’s extra consensus constructing in creator-owned comics, or at the least enjoying nicely with others, whereas with novel writing, the one individuals you must log off on it are your editor and agent, however at that time it’s your creation you’re altering.

Dueben: From our dialog and listening to the way you’re speaking, it sounds such as you discover modifying rewarding, creatively.

Segura: I really like speaking to gifted individuals. I really like seeing how they work. I’ve a very good group at Archie which have their experience. For me, the enjoyable is speaking to expertise and going forwards and backwards and seeing what they produce and being within the trenches with them. Editorially, my intuition is to not micromanage, however to seek out individuals who match the task and watch them succeed. Nick has an excellent resume and as soon as we obtained by way of that first script, I stepped again and let him do what he’s good at. Similar with Kelly Thompson on Sabrina. Her take was so good that when the shakedown cruise is over, you allow them to go and be good at what they do. As a author, I hate to be micromanaged. I hate for somebody to be altering what I do, so I take that under consideration when managing expertise. In case you’re going to offer notes, you need to clarify why. Transparency is admittedly essential. That’s my philosophy in a nutshell — let gifted individuals do gifted issues.

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