The CW’s Riverdale premieres on Thursday, and it looks bizarre. Like, intentionally, David Lynch-y bizarre–essentially Twin Peaks with teenagers, with the classic Archie Comics characters and their hometown of Riverdale the backdrop for the investigation of a murder. Archie’s gotten weird in recent years–it explored alternate timelines (killing off its namesake hero in one of them), and thrust its characters into a zombie apocalypse–but it’s a bold move to connect classic characters who are essentially synonymous with the concept of “Americana” and putting a Lynchian version of them on television.
But Riverdale isn’t just the product of someone buying the Archie Comics license and slapping a story together that uses the character names. The show’s creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, is also Archie’s Chief Creative Officer. He’s got a lot of reason to want to make sure that fans of Archie Comics identify what they see on Riverdale as part of the Archie brand, in other words, and to make sure that people who like Riverdale might find something they’d like if they pick up Archie’s adventures in print, too.
To that end, The interactive “Riverdale Comic Creator” looks to connect the comics with the show–and, most importantly, to connect all of that to you, the reader. Visitors to the Tumblr page on which the comic lives can log in with their Facebook account, which gets read for some personal info–their name, their location, their likes, etc–and then that info gets plugged into the script, Mad Libs-style, so the new kid visiting Riverdale and meeting up with Archie and the gang at Pop Tate’s Chocklit Shoppe is you. Archie calls the character by your name, Betty talks about your favorite band, Jughead makes fun of your favorite movie, etc, before everybody goes off to the club to see Josie & The Pussycats play together. Nobody sleeps with a teacher, or gets murdered and washes up on the shore of the lake–as happens in the trailer to Riverdale–but it pegs Archie to Riverdale a little more, and if the show is able to pull off being both as bizarre as it looks and as authentic to the characters as the comics tie-in suggests, it could be something pretty unique on television.