Today is the release of the final issue of Archie Vs. Predator, written by Alex de Campi and art by Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, and Jason Millet. This was the comic that turned a lot of heads then proceeded to snap them off and claim them as trophies. While at San Diego Comic Con this year, Dark Horse was able to arrange for me to interview Alex de Campi and she was nice enough to spend some time answering questions all about the series, Archie, and Predator. Hope you enjoy!
Comic Attack: So whose idea was this?
Alex de Campi: I can take no credit for the idea. I wrote the story and the story is all mine. Archie was looking to do more stories. They had done Archie/KISS and Archie/Glee and were thinking “How do we outdo Archie/KISS?” I’m sure there was someone in the back who said said “ARCHIE/PREDATOR!” and it got a laugh then everyone went silent and someone went “YEAHHHH!”
They contacted Dark Horse and they contacted my editor becauseI write grindhouse which is more trash horror and teenagers dying. So they called me up. My editor goes “So were doing this thing that’s Archie/Predator. Do you want to do that?” and I said “Yeah, I guess so.” I get on the phone with Brendan (Wright) and Roberto (Aguirre-Sacasa), the chief creative officer of Archie and writer of Afterlife with Archie and Sabrina. Both of which you should read! They encouraged me to kill lots of kids. Which is new for an Archie crossover, because even in Archie Meets Punisher, the only thing that died was Frank Castle’s self-esteem. Not one murder. Then I started writing the series. It got announced at New York Comic Con last year and everybody lost their mind. That was the first indication that this was going to be a big deal. Before that we thought it would just be a fun book and then someone shined a spotlight on us and said “LOOK! IT’S A THING!” I get amazed when people are lining up, I’m a fairly obscure writer but now it’s this real thrill.
CA: How far could you push things for the book?
AdC: My job in this is to fulfill the blood-soaked fantasies of the Predator fanbase. Which I consider myself part of. I can almost recite the whole first Predator movie. Get a bit spottier on the other ones. I’m also an Archie fan so I wanted both groups to feel like they were taken care of. The Predators get a good Predator book and the Archie fans get a good Archie book with core Archie values and friendships. Archie tripping over things and having heart eyes for most of the book while Betty and Veronica are bickering. But also my job was to take this as extreme as I can. As the writer of the Grindhouse series they expected that. I took it as far as I humanely could, it’s the nature of work-for-hire that people will ask you to change things. Sometimes just because asking to change things makes you feel like you’re part of the process so I would push way, way, forward and they’d ask me to dial it back. I did dial it back but they didn’t realize how much territory they’d lost, I mean I totally annexed their Sudetenland and they didn’t even realize. Crazy things get approved, I hate writing nonsense dialogue but that’s what Predator speaks in so I had this Predator speak in emojis because he’s a teenage Predator and they said that was fine.
CA: You mentioned Predator being your favorite of that series.
AdC: I kind of have a stupid love for Predators because of how much it almost worked. It was so close! It’s one of those movies I constantly spend rewriting it. If only this role was given to him and this one to him! Never go see a movie with me, ever.
CA: How was it to balance out the two series?
AdC: I found it really easy. Again, teen slasher films, the teens all have trivial things on their mind and then something arrives and starts killing them. Some cope and some don’t. I think we see in issue 3 that it starts to sink in with Archie and the gang that they are really, really in trouble. That there is probably no way out. SPOILERS Convenient Spellman family side plot gets rid of the police. Turns them into goats. END SPOILERS The Archie characters are so well defined it’s very easy to work with them. You can pretty much figure out what they would do with zany things. That’s the thing about Archie books they are fundamentally nonsense machines.. You can have crazy stuff happen and that’s okay because it’s comics. There are very few places in comics where you can do that still. That’s one of my favorite parts of comics “And now something incredibly insane happens.”
CA: For the violent scenes did were you hands on or let the artists go wild?
AdC: I write full scripts. The art is always free to innovate and split panels or combine but the full scripts are there for them. I know Fernando mostly stuck with the full scripts, I know he only does five panels a page so we tried to keep it to that or a little bit less. Sometimes we went more but we tried to keep it less to balance it out for the action scenes. So I looked at his art and studied it so I knew how to work with what he was comfortable with working with the page and the amount of compression. So I tried my best to work with that, which is your job as the writer to check out your artist and work with them what they’re comfortable doing.
CA: Was there anything you wanted to put in the book but you just couldn’t make fit or have the space for?
AdC: I pretty much got everything in. I could have probably done another issue, I would have liked to extend the fight in Riverdale a little bit longer. There is something to be said about keeping it a tight four issues that leaves people wanting more. There is a tendency in comics to drag things on these days.
CA: So no ongoing with Predator as a main cast member joining the Riverdale gang?
AdC: I’d love to do an Archie ongoing. I’d write Betty and Veronica in a second, same with Josie and the Pussycats. I don’t think there’s going to be a teen Predator ongoing, not sure how on board Fox would be with that.
CA: What’s your favorite scene from the Predator films?
AdC: Oh gosh, pretty much anything with Jesse Ventura in it. Jesse Ventura is my favorite character in anything he does. Every line he says is gold. We got “Ain’t time to bleed” coming up in the book except it’s “Veronica ain’t got time to read.” cause Betty is the one who reads manuals and such while Veronica just doesn’t. She doesn’t have to.
CA: Who is your favorite Archie character?
AdC: I have a soft spot for a lot of them. I love writing Reggie because he’s such a tool. I could write Betty and Veronica all day long. I think I could exist online using only reaction images of Jughead. I love Dilton, I did a lot with him in issue 3 and feel like he’s a character you can do a lot with. I’d have to say Betty and Veronica though for favorites as a duo because they are so much fun to bounce off each other. When they are written badly they are written kind of interchangeably but when well done Veronica is a little nastier and a little edgier. Betty is a little more “Golly, gee!” but I think Betty has more hidden depths. Betty is obsessed with Archie and there are old Archie books where Betty makes a deal with the devil to get Archie to kiss and I just love stuff like that. There’s a lot in Archie, so many people think it’s just fluffy and light with no edge to it but that is completely wrong. The old books riffed on obsession, teen sexuality, and summoning the devil. These books are about people going nuts quietly in their corners and the rest of the world doesn’t realize how zingy it is. So pick up the big 1000 page Archie digest. There needs to be a “Craziest of Archie” collection, in fact, I’m going over to sign at Archie next and I’m going to tell them that.
CA: How often were you watching Predator while working on this?
AdC: I watched it twice, again. Raising my total Predator watch to the high 50’s but then I wanted to put it away. I do a lot with the Grindhouse books where I watch a lot of Z-movies as I’m writing Z-comics. I try to make sure I’m not watching anything too directly to get too much influence. I mean, there are a lot of hints in the book like Dutch’s bar in Costa Rica where the kids are and Shane Black reading Sergeant Croc, which I would totally write! I wanted to make sure the book was fundamentally its own thing.
CA: What was there you did while pushing the limit in the book that they immediately said “No you can’t do that!” that happened?
AdC: One of my favorite scenes is when General Keller is describing the Predator. He comes in like Basil Exposition to explain to the kids what’s going on and Archie, Betty, and Veronica are not paying attention to it at all. Just missing important information. I love that scene. The idea of someone explaining things about the monster like in so many movies and just saying “NAH!” we’re going to start doing that but NAH! Everyone knows it and the teenagers wouldn’t listen anyone because of teenagers. Betty sometimes goes into “Bettyspace” where she just spaces out and says stuff. When they say the name Predator Veronica says that’s a dumb name and Archie tells her to shush. Betty was going to say “My uncle was a predator, mummy said if he ever picked me up from school she’d kill him with a claw hammer.” They said “You can’t say that!” I thought it was funny but they told me we can’t have lines referencing child predation in our books.
CA: You’re off to save the day, what dinosaur do you ride in on?
AdC: Pteradactyl, cause you just can’t beat air support.
That was a fun interview to do and I want to thank Dark Horse, Archie Comics, and Alex de Campi for allowing me the chance to do this. I also want to thank you for reading and thanks to Comic Attack for letting me write about San Diego Comic Con. See you next time!