INTERVIEW: Timmy Heague Talks Archie Comics’ Toybox of Terror
Archie Comics may be the home of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, but make no mistake, the House of Riverdale has excelled in horror stories over the past decade. The 2013 series, Afterlife with Archie, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla re-imagined Riverdale in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, kicking off a new line in the publisher called Archie Horror.
The Archie Comics of today isn’t the Archie Comics you or your parents grew up with – it’s more expansive than ever.
This is certainly the case with a new horror anthology out just in time for Halloween, called Fear the Funhouse: Toybox of Terror. This one-shot aimed at middle grade readers focuses on the Archie character, Evelyn Evernever, who is rarely seen without her favorite doll in hand. Creepy dolls are certainly proliferating in pop culture right now (we love you, M3GAN), and it’s never been a more perfect time for Archie to do their own spin on it.
The creative teams on the book are rounded out by writers Timmy Heague, Danielle Paige, and Michael Northrop, and artists Ryan Caskey, Tango, and Ryan Jampole. The main cover is by Caskey, while Harley Quinn artist Sweeney Boo did the anthology’s variant cover. We spoke with writer Timmy Heague, who is making his comic book writing debut with Toybox of Terror on his inspiration for the story, his favorite horror stories, and what fans can expect for this spooky season special.
Tell us about the story that you’ve written for Toybox of Terror. What inspired it?
Archie Horror has been something that’s very close and dear to my comics lovin’ heart since its debut in 2013 with Afterlife With Archie. From there, came Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (the brutal horror comic that inspired the hit Netflix show) and tons more great horror comics from Archie like Jughead: The Hunger, Vampronica, and their many great anthology style one-shots. I love them all! One night I was rereading Afterlife With Archie for the umpteenth time and when I put it down, I decided to finally watch the new hit horror movie M3GAN that had taken the internet by storm. Upon turning it on, the ideas for a pitch came to life. The thought of killer dolls running rampant in Riverdale was just something I had to make happen!
Not only am I thankful for my pitch getting picked up in the first place, but I am especially over the moon with it all due to the massive amount of pitches Archie got for a killer dolls book after M3GAN’s release. Extremely honored that my concept was picked amongst them all. It’s an extreme honor working on a story for one of my favorite publishers and an absolute dream come true that my first published comics work is with Archie!
Once I got working with editorial, I was introduced to the classic little known Archie character Evelyn Evernever. Her appearances were few and far between in Archie Comics through the years. But one thing that was constant about her was that she always had a doll with her. Our story needed a creepy doll girl and it just had to be Evelyn.
What if your only friend was your favorite childhood doll? What if in a blink of an eye, your only friend was lost, smashed to pieces thanks to the cruelty of others? Wouldn’t you do anything to get your friend back? That’s how our story starts.. a Toybox of Terror is opened and once you open it, good luck closing it!
Toybox of Terror is a middle grade horror anthology. Are there any stories that you read around this age that have stuck with you as a writer?
How can I not say Goosebumps?! From elementary to early middle school, I was all about everything R.L. Stine! The books and the TV shows were being constantly consumed by me at that age.
On the comics reading front, I was a big Swamp Thing fan at an early age (and still am). I probably read Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing run at an age I probably shouldn’t have, but hey, it was love at first sight seeing those Bissette covers! That was my first taste into the world of comics horror and I haven’t been able to get enough since!
Archie Comics’ Toybox of Terror Is The Latest Installment In Archie Horror
What is it about the world of Riverdale and Archie in general that you feel is uniquely suited for horror?
The thing about Archie Comics that always puts a smile on my face is that Riverdale is a town that anyone can belong to and fit in, and Archie Andrews is a guy who can be anyone’s friend. It’s just so wholesome and heart-warming, we all want those things. Comic books are my favorite form of escapism, and sometimes you just want to escape into a world that makes everything feel better. NOW… put all that into a world of horror, and that’s Archie Horror. These characters are realistic, they can be your friends. Riverdale could be an actual American town to visit. Seeing these characters and this town put into frightening tales of suspense and horror shouldn’t be a thing – it’s so wrong, it’s right!
What’s your favorite killer toy from a horror movie or television show?
We have to take it back to Goosebumps! Sloppy The Dummy! The first thing to ever give me literal nightmares and keep me up at night. My parents sure did find out “the joys of parenthood” that evening. That scene where you find out he turned one of the kids into a dummy got me so good!… well bad, I should say. Couple years later I learned to embrace those nightmares, and soon enough I had read every book my school library had for Goosebumps!
Anything else fans should know about Toybox of Terror?
I share this comic with some truly amazing writers and artists. I am so thankful to be sharing my comic book writing debut with the likes of writers Danielle Paige and Michael Northrop. My story in the comic is what’s called “the framework story” and I’m so thrilled to have two great short stories that intertwine with the story I’ve crafted. The artist of my story titled LOVE EVERNEVER is Ryan Caskey who goes by the online persona THE SPOOKY KING. A name he so extremely deserves. He has brought my script pages to life better than I could have ever dreamed. He is a master of the craft and I couldn’t be more thankful to have him as my co-creator on this comic.
I put my heart and soul into this comic, giving it everything that I think a comic needs for the reader. I’ve been selling comics for half my life now and there’s nothing more important to me than a reader being satisfied with their purchase and I pray to the comics horror gods they feel that way with this comic! It’s available 10/18 just in time for Halloween and I thank you so much for picking up a copy! I hope this is the first of many comics to come from me and I promise for every comic I make, I’ll always give my best to the reader to make every page count!
Fear the Funhouse… Toybox of Terror is available wherever comics are sold on October 18th, 2023.