A cult-favorite Archie Comics character is getting a grunge makeover for its horror line
You really can't keep Jughead Jones' cousin down, it seems
Move over, Sabrina. Take a hike, Salem. Archie Comics is expanding the line-up of its Archie Horror line with one of the least likely revivals of them all, with the April 2023 release of Chilling Adventures Presents... The Cult of That Wilkin Boy.
If you read that and thought, wait, 'that what boy?' then... well, you’re probably not alone. The new oneshot reimagines the That Wilkin Boy series, which Archie hasn’t published since 1982, outside of some occasional reprints in a digest collection. That series, which launched way back in 1968, focused on Woodrow 'Bingo' Wilkin, a counter-culture teen who just so happens to be the cousin of Jughead Jones, of all people… but in a manner keeping with the other books in the Archie Horror line.
“The story we're seeing in this book is closely related to the original stories; it starts in pretty much the same place for Bingo and his friends,” explains writer Cullen Bunn, “but I wanted to explore what might happen if the story took a dark, infernal turn, so I wove in some classic demonic folklore. What would happen if Bingo got everything he wanted, but he paid a terrible price to get there? The Bingo of this story is quite a departure — an evolution or de-evolution — of the wholesome character of yesteryear, corrupted by fame and power and guilt and jealousy. He's achieved what he thought was impossible, but his karmic payments are coming due.”
Of course, while the character of Bingo might be modeled after the original, he’s got a visual makeover, courtesy of Dan Schoening. "Music plays a big part in the character makeup of Bingo Wilkin, but instead of the classic late ‘60s pop rock aesthetic, we've updated him with more of a grunge/alternative rock vibe,” he says. “I pulled visual inspiration from bands like Weezer, Nirvana, Beck, and Green Day. With the touches of horror throughout the tale, I directed my attention towards Harry Clarke's Faust illustrations and the phantasmic work of Hieronymus Bosch. This one-shot is a haunting character study, and will relate to so many on a personal level. Sometimes the dreams we desire most, especially ones such as fame and fortune, can turn into dreadful nightmares."
"I'm ecstatic to reunite Cullen Bunn and Dan Schoening — the team behind 2022's hit one-shot Chilling Adventures of Salem — for this twisted tale of fame and celebrity,” adds Archie senior director of editorial Jamie L. Rotante. “Getting to work with Cullen is an honor, as he's a master of scripting horror, and Dan's vivid and detailed work helps accentuate the darkest and most disturbing aspects of Cullen's writing. I was inspired by cult-based horror movies like Mandy and Midsommar, but Cullen took it to the next level, using musician character Bingo Wilkin to tell a story that's about the darker sides of fame. This is an unforgettable story that I know will delight any and all horror fans."
Chilling Adventures Presents… The Cult of That Wilkin Boy is scheduled for release April 19, 2023. The publisher’s advance description of the issue goes a little something like this: “Bingo Wilkin is not just a world-renowned musician. He’s an icon. An iconoclast. A legend. A leader. He’s also a master of manipulation with fans and followers willing to do his bidding, now matter how evil it may be. Is too much ever enough when it comes to celebrity? The team behind The Chilling Adventures of Salem return with this psychological thriller about fame and fandom.”
Look below for a chance to see not just the main cover from Dan Schoening and Matt Herms, but also the variant cover from Robert Hack.
More Archie is always a good thing, especially when we’re still dealing with the upcoming farewell to Riverdale after seven seasons.