Behind the scenes of HAPPY HORRORDAYS with artist Butch Mapa!

This week’s HAPPY HORRORDAYS one-shot comic book is a festive fright-fest just in time for the holiday season, packed with three new yuletide tales of terror, all based on real folklore! We asked Butch Mapa, artist of “Cat Got Your Tongue” (written by Joanne Starer), to walk us through how he created the story’s distinctive look, especially the fascinating Icelandic monster at its heart. Take it away, Butch!

It’s such an honor to be part of the long list of talented creators who’ve worked on Archie and the gang, and I wanted to make an impression on my fellow Riverdale fans!

I like to tailor my style to fit whatever story I am working on, so I did some sketches using two approaches, with the first being a “classic” Archie style, with smoother lines, more stylized anatomy, and simpler rendering. Editorial decided to go with the second, more modern look: more delicate linework, detailed rendering, and realistic anatomy.

Our writer, Joanne Starer, wanted Reggie, Cheryl, and Veronica to all be wearing traditional Icelandic sweaters, but I also wanted each of them to still have their own unique looks. So, I researched street fashion from that part of the world, and came up with different outfits for the gang.

This panel on the first page is important for lots of reasons. My initial layout had Sheila being on the same plane as the others, but while working on the panel, I thought it’d work so much better if I elevated Ronnie and Co. a few steps above Sheila, as they were literally seeing her as being beneath them.

One of the subtle ways I depicted the time jump was to have Sheila’s coat fabric in uneven pieces, and literally held together by pins. One year later, as she’s gotten better at her sewing, her patchwork outfit is put together better.

My lovely wife has a background in fashion design, so she was able to help me out with Sheila’s tailoring set-up in her room, as well as her hand positions later on in the second page.

I also discovered Icelandic turf houses, and they’re perfect for Sheila’s humble isolated hilltop residence.

I sent in several designs for Sheila’s Yule Cat for everyone’s approval. Delightfully, they chose the least conventional look. This design can be cute and terrifying, while also having a distinctive appearance!

I’m looking forward to everyone seeing what we cooked up! Joanne wrote a banger of a story (I creeped myself out drawing the last panel — brr!), and I was so fortunate to have Archie vets Glenn Whitmore and Jack Morelli as collaborators for my first voyage into Riverdale.

— Butch Mapa


Thanks again to Butch for letting us look behind the scenes, and you can get your copy of HAPPY HORRORDAYS right here. Do what you can to avoid that gigantic cat out in the snow, and have a fun and festive holiday season!

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