The Art of THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA

As we all come down from the high that was The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and its surprise holiday episode, I want to take a look at the glimmer of source material we saw on our Netflix screens; the art of the opening credits. Contrary to popular belief, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is not from the same series that birthed other Netflix hit, Riverdale, but is actually a part of the Archie Horror series along with Afterlife with Archie.  

Chilling Adventures is an intersection of a favorite genre and a favorite medium, it’s a horror comic.  The art of Chilling Adventures is as integral to the spooks as the story, and joint efforts of writer and artist, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack, made for an incredibly memorable comic that was adapted for the Netflix series.  While their work is peppered through the series, it’s time to talk to you specifically about the art as seen in the opening credits. The opening credits were created by series artist, Robert Hack, using some of his own original art work, and some new designs based on series actors.  

The first thing you’ll notice is that the title card for the series comes from the cover of the paperback/ second issue of series which is drawn by Hack.  Hack is more known for drawing variant covers, second or third covers for single issues that are gold for collectors and usually feature guest artists, than he is for drawing series.   

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Chilling Adventures is Hack’s first monthly series run.   His style really informs the show. You might recognize his work from this Dark Shadows poster.

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Or from this Dr. Who variant cover.

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That last shot? The one that appears to be the Netflix series cover art?

After the first issue of Chilling Adventures sold out, they ordered a second printing. Often when this happens, the comics will change the cover colours or sometimes order a new cover altogether. Hack created this new cover.  

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The credits also include a lot of shots of this skull eyed lady. This image is of Madam Satan, a very important character in the comic.  Though she is portrayed in the show, her appearance in the comics is a lot darker and more sinister, and she looks, well, terrifying.

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Madam Satan has appeared in Archie comics before. She first appeared in Pep Comics #16 in 1941. Here's how she looked then.

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Chilling Adventures issue No. 2 featured a variant cover by Francesco Francavilla where he paid tribute to the original Madam Satan. You might recognize his style from Zorro or his run of Detective Comics with acclaimed DC writer and artist Scott Snyder and Jock (who is a variant cover veteran).

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Francesco also draws Afterlife with Archie, the Archie comic in the same horror series as Chilling Adventures, which puts a horror spin on your pals from Riverdale.  

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But, of course, then there is that famous silver haired gal, the title character of it all, Sabrina Spellman herself.  You are probably familiar with multiple adaptations of the teenage witch from the 1996 movie to the beloved series and her appearance in decades of comic books.  Sabrina first appeared in Archie's Madhouse #22 in 1962 and was created by George Gladir and Dan DeCarlo. That last cartoony shot in the opening credits looks like Decarlo's original version of her.

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Comic books have so often been adapted for the small and big screen, and there’s certainly been a massive boom of the practice in the past 10 years.  Live action adaptations, and even cartoons, lean heavily on their source art, but each medium portrays something completely different. So the opening credits of Sabrina showcasing the source material art is a great way to display the art of the source material.  The medium of comics is a beautiful marriage between a specific form of writing and the art that tells the story, and this portrayal makes for an exciting deep dive into the art that informs The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.