Comicbook: Sabrina the Teenage Witch
Sabrina The Teenage Witch
is a long-running character published by Archie Comics
, who first appeared in Archie's Mad House
#22 (October, 1962). The comic focuses on the adventures of Sabrina Spellman, a teenaged witch
who lives with her two aunts, Hilda and Zelda, who (being witches themselves) tutor Sabrina on the use of her powers. Sabrina's traditional adventures usually involved Sabrina getting into some magic-oriented hijinks either caused by or resolved by the use of her powers. Also appearing in the Sabrina comics were Sabrina's boyfriend, Harvey, and her pet cat, Salem.
After the debut of the live-action sitcom of the same name
and the subsequent animated series adaptation
, the comic was Re Tooled
to match the sitcom and animated series' interpretations of the characters. Sabrina's hometown was finally named "Greendale" (as it was named in the animated series; the earlier stories either didn't name her hometown or featured her living in Riverdale alongside Archie and the others, though Greendale is a neighboring town), while Hilda and Zelda were given makeovers to look more like typical modern women (before, they were drawn as traditional Halloween-style witches). Finally, Salem, until then a non-talking ordinary feline, was given the same backstory and personality as the character from the TV series (a warlock turned into a cat as punishment by the Witches' Council).
All of these elements were retained when the comic was Re Tooled
again by writer-artist Tania Del Rio, who shifted Sabrina
to a more manga-ish art style and introduced a long-running dramatic storyline over the course of three and a half years. The comic was canceled in early 2009 after its hundredth issue, though Sabrina continues to make occasional cameos in other comics (including Jughead
Most recently, the characters were darkened up significantly
in the new title, Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina
, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa and Francisco Francavilla, the same creators behind Afterlife With Archie
. Similar in several aspects, the book's tone now hews much closer to 1970's / early-80's horror, with direct shout-outs to works like Rosemary's Baby
, the output of Hammer Studios
, and the Cthulhu Mythos
This comic provides examples of:
- Adorkable: Harvey can fall under this at times. This is toned down in the sitcom and cranked Up to Eleven in the 1999 animated series.
- Animesque: Tania Del Rio's Re Tool.
- Artificial Human: It was originally explained in the comics that Sabrina was created by her "aunts" with a magic potion gone wrong (or right). Later issues retconned this to be like the TV series, where Sabrina was the daughter of her aunt's warlock brother and a mortal mother.
- Badass Princess/Royals Who Actually Do Something: In the newest cartoon Sabrina is shown to be a witch princess; destined to rule all of the magical world one day as queen. As result she's more active in solving problems in both worlds.
- Cats Are Snarkers: Salem.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Della the Head Witch. This is due to Retcon as the manga-based comics and later cartoons introduce Queen Seles and Enchantra as the leaders of the witches respectively.
- Cross Over: Many Sabrina stories from the early '70s had her interacting with Archie and the gang. She still occasionally shows up in Archie stories.
- Darker and Edgier: From 1972 to 1974, Archie published Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told By Sabrina. It had the odd combination of straight-up horror stories with art in the familiar Archie house style. Sabrina plays the role of Horror Host. One story in particular stands out, featuring a boy who teases a stutterer at school. The kindly teacher happens to be a witch, and gives him an enchanted book that melts his face off, and possibly kills him! The story probably violated several rules under The Comics Code, but somehow gained the CCA seal of approval (perhaps because Archie pretty much ran the CCA?)
- Chilling Adventures will be revived in Fall 2014 as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Afterlife With Archie writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.
- Demoted to Extra: Cousin Ambrose seems to have fallen prey to this, in favor of the increased use of Salem as a supporting character.
- Sabrina herself is this in a meta-way. Since The Nineties she's been on-and-off compared to Archie's. Her last few appearances have only been Crossover cameos.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first Sabrina comic emphasizes Sabrina's witchy qualities, such as finding joy in magically tormenting her classmates, demonstrating inabilities to cry or drown, and dodging romance out of fear for losing her powers. Each of these elements would soon become either underplayed or eliminated, to help make Sabrina a more relatable character.
- Gender Bender: In the Archie story "The Great Switcheroo", Salem casts a spell that changes the sex of everybody in Riverdale. The story plays a bit like a Gender Flip in execution, as none of the transformed characters know what their "true" sex is supposed to be, but it "really" happened, and Sabrina's eventual reversal spell isn't actually a Reset Button. There's even video evidence suggesting that the gang spent a day as the opposite sex, even if none of them remember it. Sabrina herself remains a girl in the story.note
- Hair Color Dissonance: Sabrina originally had white hair but it seems they were going for "platinum blonde".
- The Hecate Sisters: In the earlier comics, Hilda is portrayed dressed as and behaving in a more stereotypical witch manner, including being cranky, disliking mortals (particularly Sabrina's boyfriend Harvey), and prone to using her powers for revenge or resolving petty disputes. In the earlier comics, Zelda (like Hilda) also was dressed in stereotypical witch's clothes, but unlike Hilda, was the more compassionate and kindly of the two. In the original comics, Zelda was short and stout with green hair. Sabrina is a well-meaning girl, but she struggles with constant pressure to be "bad" from all the other witches around her, especially her aunts, as well as learning to master her powers.
- Horror Host: Sabrina, in Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told By Sabrina.
- Humans Are Ugly: Witches occasionally refer to Sabrina as being ugly. Which is really weird considering Della...
- This is explained early on as being the result of an "ugly curse" being place on her by a mean warlock. Of course in the witch world this results her being beautiful as they operate on an Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad mentality.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: With, of all things, Sonic the Hedgehog, in a story that spanned across an issue of the Sabrina comic◊ and a Sonic Super Special comic.◊
- Magical Gesture: The action Sabrina performs to cast a spell varies Depending on the Writer. Sometimes she tugs her earlobe, sometimes she points her index finger, sometimes she snaps her fingers.
- Magical Girl: Obviously. Complete with talking animal companion.
- Ms. Fanservice: Della the Head Witch, whose outfit from the early '70s on consisted solely of a swimsuit, boots and a cape.
- Progressively Prettier: Sabrina's aunts, who originally were depicted as conventional looking witches, were given makeovers in the late 90s, presumably either to update their look or to match their more normal looking portrayals in the TV series. Hilda lost her haggard, skinny appearance and long nose, and Zelda went from being heavy-set to slim, with both losing their traditional witches' clothes/hats in favor of modern women's fashions a la Sabrina.
- The most recent cartoon subverts this trope by returning the pair to their fat and skinny figures, only inverted, but keeps them looking vaguely like Sabrina and in clothing fitting modern witches.
- Rebellious Spirit: Especially apparent during the 1960s and '70s, when Sabrina constantly defied the status quo of witches causing evil and mayhem by trying to magically help people instead.
- Re Tool: Several over the series' run, including one set in Sabrina's junior high years (per the animated series) and the more recent manga-style series.
- Sexy Santa Dress: In a comic cover◊ that showed her in a pastiche of stuff from different holidays.
- Talking Animal: Salem, in modern comics; earlier comics (made before the TV show) showed Salem as a non-talking ordinary cat, akin to Jughead's pet Hot Dog.
- Vengeful Vending Machine: In one oneshot, Aunt Hilda gets cheated by a vending machine and kicks it in frustration. The machine retaliates by punching her, and Sabrina remarks that they're making vending machines that can fight back.
- Writer on Board: The Sabrina stories written and drawn by Al Hartley are full of Anvilicious religious messages, including a story where Sabrina learns that a "lack of faith" has ruined Christmas for Santa Claus. How this squares with Sabrina's witchcraft is never explained.