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 #200).

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, Creepshow, the output of Hammer Studios, and the Cthulhu Mythos.

On September 2016, Sabrina is set to appear in the Archie Comics (2015) universe via Jughead #9.


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.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Salem, after the upgrade to Talking Animal. Originally, he was just Sabrina's non-talking (save for the occasional bit of Inner Monologue) pet cat who only rarely got A Day in the Limelight. Post-Re Tool, he's a major character and an active participant in the stories.
    • To some extent, Zelda as well. In the original comics she was often left out of stories altogether, to the point where it would sometimes appear that Hilda was Sabrina's only aunt. Later comics gave Zelda more attention and more to do.
  • 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.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: A comic book cover shows Sabrina surrounded by bubbles and dressed as a valkyrie.
    Sabrina: This isn't what I meant in wanting to be in a soap opera.
  • Breakout Character: Originally introduced as a one-off character in the 1960s, Sabrina became one of Archie's major secondary characters over the years, often having her own comic book, several animated series and, most famously, her own sitcom in the late 90s/early 2000s.
  • Burn the Witch!: In a story, Sabrina thinks that her aunts had a great life in the "good old days" and as a result is given a magic mirror that can let her go back in time to colonial Salem. This trope is pretty much averted while there. Sabrina first comes across a witch stuck in the stocks and releases her. Sabrina is then put in the stocks herself for not stopping the witch's escape and is released by a perverted dude who demands a kiss for saving her. She's caught turning him into a toad and has to escape an angry mob that calls for her to be hanged.
  • 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.
  • Crossover: Many Sabrina stories from the early '70s had her interacting with Archie and the gang. She still occasionally shows up in Archie stories.
  • Cute Witch: Sabrina sometimes appeared in the elementary school-set Little Archie stories, where she'd be billed as "Little Sabrina: That Cute Little Witch." Of course, she's cute as her usual teenaged self, too.
  • 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 of Sabrina by Afterlife with Archie writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is a horror twist on Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
  • 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 '90s she's been on-and-off compared to the main Archie's crew. Most of her last few appearances have only been crossover cameos.
  • Depending on the Artist:
    • Sabrina is consistently blonde but what shade has constantly changed over the past few decades. Likewise her hairstyle has changed multiple times, though her classic bob haircut is the norm.
    • Whether Zelda has green hair or not.
    • Salem has been depicted as a black cat for twenty years now but the specifics aren't concrete. Is he completely black or does he have white patches? If so, how do they look?
  • 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, Archie Comics' 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.
  • Smart Animal, Average Human: The snarky and wise cat Salem and the average witch girl Sabrina, who is perky and well-meaning.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": When the comic came out it was "Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch". Over time the spelling of "teenage" changed and with it the series' title.
  • 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.
  • They Killed Kenny: If Sabrina is in a Darker and Edgier Alternate Universe story you can bet she will be killed or in some other way incapacitated so as not to have a simple Deus ex Machina ready to wave her hands.
  • 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.