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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: how the comics and the TV show differ

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Megan Murray
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Chilling Adventures of Sabrina season two will be back in April, but we can’t wait until then to find out more. 

Sometimes when we really, really love a TV show, it’s easy to become obsessed with finding out as much extra detail as possible.

When the next series of your favourite show feels like it’s a million years away, fans can get caught up hunting out interviews with the cast and scouring Reddit for fan theories, all to get another tidbit of the story to work out what might happen next.

Which is why it’s good our latest obsession, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, has a whole other world of material behind it, in the form of the original comics.

Sabrina the Teenage Witch was first published by Archie Comics in 1983 and ran until 2009, before being given a dark reboot as the Chilling Adventures by Archie Horror.

Drawn up in Manga-style and focusing on much more gruesome themes such as cannibalism, murder and even incest, the 2014 comic book retelling of the Spellman family is what inspired our new favourite TV show – although many of the story lines have taken a very different turn. 

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Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who also works on the show), the comic book of Sabrina’s life is even more twisted and turbulent than the one we see on screen, and makes for great theorising on how the two story arcs may influence each other.

Here, we take a look at some of the differences between the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book and TV show, from the characters and their relationships to the story lines themselves, to unpick what might come in season two and learn more about the realm in which Greendale exists. 

When is the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina set?

For a while now, Netflix has been developing a cinematic style that makes it almost impossible to guess when a show is set. We witnessed it in Sex Education, where cultures and eras seemed to blur: the actors spoke with English accents while wearing typically American-style Letterman jackets; they used mobile phones while appearing decidedly Eighties. And we’ve seen it again in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Although the aesthetic is clearly retro, the characters have all the modern tech products we have access to in 2019, including mobile phones and laptops. What’s really clever, though, is that on the countdown to Sabrina’s dark baptism the show gives date updates on the screen which tell viewers it is 28 October of ‘this year’, so whenever you watch the show it feels relevant.

However, you might have noticed, as well as a generally retro feel, there are some Sixties vibes coming through. Sabrina’s outfits, especially in the glimpses of the second season, are made up of A-line mini skirts and polo necks, while Ambrose is rocking some pretty snazzy psychedelic shirts and a vintage looking leather jacket.

If you did pick up on this, you would be right for thinking there was a nod to this era in particular as the comics were actually set in the Sixties. 

Sabrina’s dad is not to be trusted

In the new Netflix series Sabrina’s parents’ death is shrouded in mystery and is a huge source of tragedy and misery to the teenage witch, who isn’t sure whether to believe her aunt’s claims they died in a plane crash or if something more sinister and secretive happened. She desperately misses them and even names herself after them both before her Dark Baptism.

But in the comics, it’s a very different story. Sabrina’s dad, Edward, is an evil warlock who only married her mother to further his power and sent her insane, banishing her to a mental institution, when she tried to stop him. He also takes over Harvey’s body to trick Sabrina and try to get close to her, and at one point even considers having sex with her under his guise.

In the TV series we’ve met Sabrina’s mum several times, not only in Limbo when she is looking for a lost baby, but also during a seance at Sabrina’s house and then again when she outsmarts the witch Gryla in the Christmas special. Every time her mum has tried to reach out to Sabrina, talk to her and be there for her. Sabrina’s dad on the other hand, hasn’t made much of an appearance. Could he a darker force in the TV series too, and not the parental figure she craves?

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic vs TV series

Harvey is flayed alive by Sabrina’s coven

And we thought the TV reboot was dark. Although the 2019 version may be significantly more sinister than the Melissa Joan Hart version, it’s a lot closer to the comics in tone, which are seriously, seriously chilling.

In the original story arc Harvey gets killed off pretty quickly. Intrigued by Sabrina’s mysterious birthday plans, he follows her down to Greendale woods and witnesses her Dark Baptism, but is found by her coven and flayed alive. Ouch.

He’s not in the ground for long, though. Sabrina attempts to resurrect him, which at least brings him back to the land of the living but instead of returning his usual, doe-eyed self, he comes back…wrong. So wrong in fact, he eats his own family. Ring any bells? This is where we’re thinking the TV writers got inspiration for Tommy’s story line, who is also resurrected and comes back as a soulless cannibal. 

There’s a reason Ambrose has a British accent in the TV series

The accents on Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are all over the place. Sabrina and her friends are very much American, while her aunts and her cousin sound British – but it turns out there is a reason for this.

In the comics Ambrose is a teenage warlock at boarding school in England and has to come and live with the aunts as punishment for cutting off the hands of a fellow student. Nasty.

In the show his crime is linked to a radicalised group who tried to blow up the Vatican. Ambrose reveals to Father Blackwood that he lacked direction in his life and fell for the charm of a charismatic leader, promising to follow him anywhere. But when the group were found out, Ambrose was the only one to take the flack. While the rest got away, he has been under house arrest for our 70 years and refused to give up their names. 

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic book story lines vs tv show

The Weird Sisters don’t appear in the comics – but Riverdale cheerleaders do

Hardcore Riverdale fans, you may already know this, but there’s monumental crossover between Sabrina’s town and the neighbouring Riverdale.

In the TV series we see this in the form of Riverdale posters pinned in the school hall, mentions of it being the next town over and even a character from Riverdale, Ben, making an appearance as a pizza delivery person to Madame Satan’s house.

In the comics however, the two worlds are completely entwined, with Sabrina even dating Archie Andrews at some points.

If you’ve read Archie Comics or seen the TV show, you’ll know that Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge are best friends and students of Riverdale High. Well, in the comics they are actually witches and part of Ms Grundy’s coven.

It is Veronica and Betty who help Sabrina when the going gets tough, assisting her in resurrecting Harvey from his greusome fate.

There is a mention of a trio of witches called The Weird Sisters, but they aren’t teenagers at Sabrina’s school. They’re a gaggle of wise witches who can foretell the future, and approve of relationships between witches and mortals, unlike The Weird Sisters in the TV series. 

Images: Netflix

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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