Alex Segura on Dark Circle Comics and the Future of Archie’s Superhero Line

As Archie prepares to launch their Dark Circle Comics superhero line, we spoke with editor Alex Segura.

For the past couple of years, Alex Segura has been an instrumental figure in shaping the course of Archie Comics. He’s worked as a writer on various storylines from the company — including the headline-grabbing “Occupy Riverdale” story of Archie as well as the incredibly fun Archie Meets Kiss mini-series — and is also their Senior Vice President of Publicity and Marketing. The latest entry on his impressive resume is his new role as editor of the new Dark Circle Line, which will feature revitalizations of the classic MLJ superheroes, as well as gritty and adult storylines that are as far away from Riverdale as possible.

In advance of the imprint’s launch next week (which will kick off with The Black Hood, to be followed later in the year by The Fox and The Shield) we had the opportunity to interview Segura to find out what he has in store for readers. Here’s what he had to say:

What has been the toughest challenge you have encountered so far while prepping the Dark Circle launch?

I think the toughest part is being patient! I’m so excited for not only these first three titles to hit, but for the NEXT wave to come out. It’s driving me up the wall. I also can’t wait for people to read that first issue of The Black Hood. I think it’s a game-changer, not only for Archie, but for how readers perceive these characters.

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One thread that ties all of the Dark Circle titles together is that they all are being crafted by A-list talent. I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about how you recruited the writers and editors of each book?

Well, I’m the editor on the books – Paul Kaminski is a big part of Dark Circle editorial team, too, and is running point on The Fox, but I think your question is more about talent, so I’ll just talk about that. Basically, I reached out to talent that I wanted to work with, who I enjoyed reading and tried to match their work with the characters that were in play. Some people we reached out to couldn’t do it, or are working on stuff that’s coming out down the line.

But it was really about not only reaching out to established comic book voices, but bringing in talents that had something new to bring to the table. I think Duane Swierczynski, for example, is a superb noir and crime writer. It was something I hadn’t seen really utilized in his comic work, which struck me as a no-brainer. And Michael Gaydos is one of my all-time favorite artists, and we are extremely lucky to have him onboard The Black Hood. I could go on, creator by creator, to explain why we picked them, but suffice to say we brought in the talent that we thought would reinvigorate these properties and make them appealing to new and returning readers.

Are you looking at The FoxThe Shield and The Black Hood as a sort of Dark Circle phase one? That is to say if these books are successful can we expect to see other classic MLJ/Mighty Crusaders getting solo books. Will any of these outside characters make appearances in the three announced titles?

The door is open. That’s my mantra with this. All bets are off. This is definitely a “wave one” or first phase of publishing. We have another one in the works, and we’ll see that roll out carefully. I think you’ll see some familiar characters show up – perhaps not as we left them and not in the way readers would expect, but that’s part of the fun, I think.

The Fox was one of 2014’s best comics, largely due to its reluctant hero and Dean Haspiel’s often zany art which complement the offbeat storytelling. Will the new Fox stories retain that same tone?

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I think you’re going to get a certain amount of DIY/indie/irreverence from a Dean Haspiel comic. That’s what you look for when you work with him – he has such a unique and independent voice. That said, this Fox series is a continuation of his adventures – which means he’s moving forward and facing different challenges. I think if we did Fox: Freak Magnet 2, we’d just be covering the same ground, which isn’t what we – as an imprint – or Dean as a creator are about. So, tonally, you’ll see some similarities, but it’s a new series and a new starting point that keeps fans on their toes.

The most anticipated of the Dark Circle titles seems to be The Black Hood. Why do you think people are reacting so well to this book before its even been published?

People like crime stories. That’s what this book is, more than a super hero title. Think The WireThe SopranosBoardwalk Empire, etc. This book is about a flawed, dangerous character’s descent into a deeper darkness. Not about capes and cowls. I think people have an affinity for that kind of Breaking Bad-esque fall from grace. Plus, Duane and Michael are a killer team. Pun intended.

Dark Circle made a lot of news recently when they announced that The Black Hood would be returnable for retailers, a move that many insiders feel shows a real confidence in the title as well as just a good business move that will encourage stores iffy to stock it to take a chance on the book. How did this decision come to be?

I think we just wanted to clear any hurdles in terms of getting retailers to buy into this initiative. And look, we’re aware that these characters have shown up before in various iterations and not always knocked it out of the park. But we are supremely confident in this book and in this plan because the content is there. Story comes first. These added tweaks – returnablity, for example – are added to an existing, solid book that we think people will enjoy.

We’re trying our best to make sure fans will be able to pick up this book once it gets rolling. I think it could be the sleeper book of the year.

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Finally, is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about Dark Circle? 

I’d just like to add that these books – this first wave – really offers something for everyone. From dark noir to acid-soaked super heroics to high-octane action, there’s something for every comic reader. I hope people enjoy them and I look forward to hearing what they think!

We’ll have much more on Dark Circle in the weeks ahead! Thanks to Alex Segura and Archie’s Ron Cacace for making this interview happen.