Josie And The Pussycats Get Weird: Comic Book Explores Vampire Origin Story

Josie and the Pussycats have come a long way from “long tail and ears for hats” and “no time for purrs and pats” as mentioned in the 1970s theme song of the classic Hanna-Barbara TV Saturday morning TV series. Following in the footsteps of the creepy Archie Horror comic books, the new “Vampiric Josie and the Pussycats” origin story is featured in the Afterlife with Archie No. 10.

Yes, after all this time, it appears that Josie, Melody, and Valerie are not as squeaky clean as we once thought. According to Comic Book Resources, the trio have been introduced into the zombie apocalypse storyline by making them century-old vampires. The new story shares how Josie was orphaned in 1906 and left under the care of Alexandra Cabot, the character most fans remember for being the antagonist with skunk-like hair. In this new story, she is a mean headmistress who is already caring for young Melody and Valerie. The story also takes some time to introduce a long-forgotten fourth character of the band, Pepper, who was written out of the series long ago and was never featured in the original TV series.

It doesn’t take long for Josie to be bitten by a rich yet spooky socialite vampire, and she then turns the other Pussycats into felines from hell. The new storyline pits the Pussycats against KKK members, Nazis in World War II, and even Charles Manson. This is not the Josie and Pussycats you remember as a kid.

Afterlife with Archie has been a strange departure for Archie Comics, who created the series in 2013 and meant only to be sold in comic shops. It is the company’s first comic that isn’t aimed at children and comes with a TEEN+ rating. Unlike the other family-friendly fare, this series includes violence, gore, necrotic themes, and some harsh language. The series was written after Archie Comics dropped the Comics Code Authority standard in 2011. The code was created in 1954 by the Comics Magazine Association of America that allowed the publishers to self-regulate their own content and assuring that content was appropriate for kids. Archie Comics was one of the last to abandon the code along with DC and Bongo Comics.

The new dark version of Josie and the Pussycats also follows the company’s new take on Sabrina the Teenage Witch called Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Although the Sabrina tales feature many of the same characters as in the Archie stories, the two storylines are not related to each other.

Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson
Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson in Josie and the Pussycats (2001)

Archie Andrews and friends have found that keeping relevant with a super clean image can be difficult. In 2001, Universal Pictures and MGM tried to revive interest in the Josie and the Pussycats brand with a live-action movie that starred Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson. The film tanked, earning just $15 against a $39 million budget.

Josie and the Pussycats are also returning to TV in early 2017 in the new live action CW series Riverdale to coincide with Archie’s 75th anniversary. The new show is said to be more grounded with the classic Archie characters, but it too will have a darker theme. Screen Rant has reported that the new show will be set in the present but will explore the “surreality of small-town life,” meaning the “darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath Riverdale’s wholesome facade,” which is enough to make long-time Archie fans squirm.

The website continues to explain that the series will “showcase the eternal love triangle of Archie Andrews, girl-next-door Betty Cooper and rich socialite Veronica Lodge and will include the entire cast of characters from the comic books — including Archie’s rival Reggie Mantle and slacker best friend Jughead Jones. Popular gay character Kevin Keller also will play a pivotal role, with other characters from Archie Comics’ expansive library also slated to appear, including Josie and the Pussycats.”

This new Josie will also be different as well. Instead of the pale-skinned redhead, this Josie will be played by African-American actress Ashleigh Murray. The other two Pussycats will be played by Asha Bromfield (Melody) and Hayleau (Valerie).

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