Alex Segura is a bit of a renaissance man at Archie Comics. His business card identifies him as Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing, but he's also the editor of Archie imprint Dark Circle Comics and the writer of several Archie comics of his own (Archie Meets KISS, Archie Meets Ramones). His latest is The Archies, a one-shot with writer Matthew Rosenberg that follows Archie Andrews as he attempts to turn his songwriting dreams into a reality, with a little help from his friends.
Featuring art by Joe Eisma, The Archies (out May 24) will test not only the limits of Archie's rock and roll dream but also his relationships with those closest to him. Think of the one-shot as an origin story that adds to the Archie mythos, as Segura and Rosenberg detail, for the first time ever, how Archie, Betty, Jughead, Veronica, and Reggie got the iconic band together. (Don't be surprised if you see The Archies pop up on The CW's Riverdale, too.)
"From what I recall as a kid, they've always been in the band, and it's just something they do," Segura told MTV News. "Sometimes they're touring the world, and other times, they're just playing around the neighborhood. So this is the first time we show them coming together, which was a lot of fun."
Segura's passion for Archie Comics started at a young age with the Archie Double Digest comic, which he would thumb through at the grocery store: "It was the first comic I picked up." Even as he got older and found Spider-Man and true-crime novels, Segura would often return to Archie and its small-town innocence because he had come to love the fictional teenage inhabitants of Riverdale, "the town with pep!"
With The Archies, Segura gets to make a bit of Archie history of his own. "We add a new element to the town, a nexus point for music," he said. "The name itself will be a hat tip to an Archie title gone past, but it's a new thing."
But like any classic Archie tale, Segura and Rosenberg have written a character-driven book. Sure, there are the typical romantic woes of Archie Andrews — Betty or Veronica? — but it's the accident-prone teen's commitment to the band, and his friends, that anchors The Archies and gives it real emotional depth. Segura, who played in bands in high school and college, had plenty of his own experiences to pull from.
"It's really hard to try and get a band together," he said. "There's that long-running gag that it's hard to find a drummer, and once you do, you have to hold onto them for as long as you can. Luckily, Archie has Jughead, but it is almost impossible to get four or five people to play music together who all have the same level of commitment.
"I can't count the number of drummers I played with," Segura added.
As the story progresses, Archie ultimately has to make a choice: his band or his friends? (He's never been very good at making big decisions.) For cowriter Rosenberg, it was about capturing that classic Archie sensibility of "growing up in the small town, hanging out with your friends, [and] falling in love."
It also gave Eisma, the arist, a chance to introduce some other classic characters who haven't made their new Archie debuts yet. "Alex and Matt's script gave me so many opportunities to draw the comedic and dramatic aspects of the Archie Universe that I love the most, and we threw in a healthy dose of obscure-character cameos and band shout-outs," Eisma said.
When Segura isn't writing Archie comics, overseeing the company's publicity and marketing, or editing the Dark Circle line, he's working on a gritty, Miami-set crime-noir series of his own: the Pete Fernandez Mystery series, which includes Silent City, Down the Darkest Street, and his latest, Dangerous Ends (out now). Fernandez, a private investigator with plenty of personal demons to keep him up at night, is at first glance the antithesis of wholesome Archie Andrews. He drinks too much. He's a mess and a total fuck-up, which makes for a nice reprieve from Riverdale.
"Writing prose is liberating. You can cut loose," Segura said. "You work on a novel for four or five months, and maybe you have a first draft. It's a marathon, whereas writing a comic or a press release is a sprint."
But in Dangerous Ends, Pete is trying to get his life back on track. He's quit drinking. He's attending AA meetings. "The cliché is the hard-drinking PI, so I wanted to show that there was an aftermath to that. He can actually try and get his life in order."
That same character-driven focus connects Archie and Pete, both messy protagonists in their own right.