Sabrina Spellman, the infamous teenage witch from Archie Comics, has recently seen a spike in popularity thanks to the Netflix series, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Fans old and new binged the intoxicatingly beautiful series, and tuned in again for the holiday special. With a season 2 on the horizon, it’s safe to say Sabrina has cast yet another spell on the public! To celebrate our favorite teenage witch, let’s take a look back at her humble beginnings as a character in Archie’s Madhouse #22.
Archie’s Madhouse #22 hit shelves in October of 1962 as a single story feature. Interestingly, the comic also features a witch named Hilda--who made her first appearance in Archie’s Madhouse #19 (thus pre-dating Sabrina), but any kind of relation between the two was not mentioned. Sabrina explains to the readers that being a witch comes with some weird traits, such as the inability to cry, or sink in water. She was also a little more mischievous than modern readers are used to. Sabrina was sent to a mortal (and unnamed) high school by her head witch Della to hex the students of the school. The story ends with Sabrina feeling a little sorry for herself since witches weren’t permitted to fall in love, thus concluding the Sabrina story. Sabrina was originally intended to just be a one shot for Madhouse, but Archie Comics had other ideas.
Created by writer George Gladir and artist Dan DeCarlo, Sabrina’s later exploits showed her to be a softer and gentler witch. Hilda was revamped and eventually added to the cast, with Zelda making her debut in Archie’s Madhouse #65. Sabrina enjoyed a healthy run in the various Archie titles, and finally got her own solo book from 1971-1983. Sabrina made her television debut in 1970 via The Sabrina the Teenage Witch Show from Filmation, which was popular with young audiences. The show would even have its own spinoff series--The Groovy Goolies.
Sabrina had made appearances in the many different Archie Filmation cartoons as well, showing audiences that she was as much a part of the Riverdale crew. Fans of Sabrina could buy toys, coloring books, puzzles, and paper dolls of her as well. Interestingly enough, in the 1977 Mattel Archie line, Sabrina is included in the promotional artwork on the packaging--but not Betty.
After her initial run, Sabrina took a backseat to the main cast of Archie characters. Finally in 1996, Sabrina got her chance to shine again in the live action Sabrina the Teenage Witch series. A comic adaptation followed in 1997, and since then Archie has found success with her various comic and television adaptations. The new Netflix series follows the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic, which is a far cry from her 1962 debut. But despite all of her changes through the years, Sabrina Spellman remains one of the most spellbinding characters in the Archie Comics universe!