Last month I talked to Tania Del Rio about her manga-style reinvention of the Archie character Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Those comics came out in the mid-2000s, but they have been so popular in Archie’s digital service that they have brought them back in a new format—a black-and-white, manga-size digest.
Here’s an exclusive look at the cover to volume 3, which is due out in September:
So, who’s that guy? And why does Sabrina look so young? If the manga version piques your interest, here are five things you need to know so you can jump right in:
It’s more like Harry Potter than Bewitched: The other Sabrina comics were mostly one-shot stories about ordinary teenage life with Sabrina throwing in some magical twists. In the manga version, Del Rio starts out with high-school stories but brings in more and more fantasy elements as she weaves a complicated plot set in the magical side of Sabrina’s world.
Sabrina has a double life: Don’t ask how she does it, but Sabrina goes to an ordinary high school (where no one knows she is a witch) by day and school in the Magic Realm by night. That means she has twice as much homework and twice as many awkward social situations. But there’s more: The folks in the Magic Realm know about the real world, but the real-world folks aren’t supposed to know about the magical world. The exceptions are Sabrina’s aunts, Hilda and Zelda, who are her guardians, and her friend Llandra, who goes to the same school in the Magical Realm but a different school in the mortal world.
That cute cat is an evil warlock: Sabrina’s cat Salem is a warlock who was sentenced to spend 100 years as a cat as punishment for attempting to take over the world. In the original comics, he was more cat-like, but when the characters were manga-ized (in a little intro to the manga series, which isn’t in the book but can be viewed as part of the preview to issue #1 on comiXology) Salem becomes so cute he looks like a stuffed cat—which means Sabrina can bring him to school. (Salem got his own mini-series after the manga-style stories ended.)
A double life leads to a romantic triangle: In the human world, Sabrina has a crush on her clueless classmate Harvey. He likes her too, but he doesn’t know how to express it. In the magical realm, it’s Shinji Yamagi who makes Sabrina’s eyes sparkle. And when he crosses over into the mortal world, things get complicated in a hurry.
Details matter! Del Rio wrote and illustrated 43 issues of the manga-style Sabrina, and she had a larger storyline in mind from the beginning, so she planted clues in the early issues that will become important later on. In volume 1, for instance, Sabrina has an encounter with a white fox that will have greater significance toward the end of the series.
Click the image below to read a preview of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Magic Within” Volume 2.