By Chris Sims for Comics Alliance
This week, Archie Comics announced that they were teaming up with the animation company Moonscoop to bring Sabrina the Teenage Witch back to television. It's not exactly a surprising move; thanks to a previous animated series and a sitcom starring Clarissa Melissa Joan Hart, Sabrina's been one of Archie's most prominent properties outside of comics for years.
According to their press release, the new cartoon is going to see Sabrina "reimagined in the vein of Harry Potter, Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and while that might sound like they're just jumping on the bandwagon of the current darlings of supernatural pop culture, I'm actually pretty excited about it. After all, the last time they tried this with Sabrina, it ended up being one of the best Archie comics ever made.
It happened in Tania Del Rio's 42-issue run as the writer and artist of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch comic, which, just to give it a bit of context, is slightly more than Walter Simonson did on Thor, and just as much of a defining run. And during the years when the rest of Archie's line was stagnating, before their current push to embrace new ideas like the Kevin Keller stories, it was really the only comic they were putting out that felt fresh and new.
It came from such a simple idea, too -- the sudden realization that they could capitalize on the sudden boom of manga readership by taking advantage of the fact that they already had a Magical Girl ready to roll. Thus, Sabrina got what Archie termed "manga makeover," and Del Rio did an amazing job with it.
By turning the book into an ongoing series with a continuing storyline, rather than a series of one-issue gags, she was able to flesh out Sabrina's cast of characters and the world in which they lived in a way that hadn't really been done before. There was healthy dose of Harry Potter to it, in that it saw Sabrina attending everyday high school by day and then heading out to the Magical Realm for arcane classes at "Charm School" (get it?). If memory serves, there was even a story involving a hunky vampire, and while it could've been very easy for that stuff to come off as just a simple attempt to leech a little success off the extremely lucrative world of wizard learnin' and undead romance, it turned into something far more.
Not only did Del Rio build up a love triangle that Sabrina had never had -- pretty much mandatory for both Archie and shojo manga -- but she also crafted great adventure stories out of it, with Sabrina struggling not to be seduced by her own power. This was a run that built to Sabrina putting together an army to overthrow the corrupt government of the magical world. And this happened in an Archie Comic. It was revolutionary in both senses of the word.
Is that what they're basing the new series on? No idea. The designs that they've offered up in the press release are certainly more anime influenced than the last Sabrina cartoon...
...but the spiky hair, super-hero cape and dodgy tattoo could just as easily be a sign of X-Treme Sabrina. It could go either way, but given that they've got something so good that they could tap into for source material, I'm pretty excited to see where it goes.
If nothign else, it might lead Archie to shine a spotlight on Del Rio's run. There was only ever one paperback collection released, and it's well worth the $4.99 to pick it up digitally at ComiXology, but right now, there's no way to get the rest of the run. If the attention of a new animated series is enough to get those four years of Sabrina stories back in print, then it'll already be a good idea.
Tags: Archie - Sabrina - Sabrina the Teenage Witch - SabrinaTheTeenageWitch - Tania Del Rio - TaniaDelRio