How’s Life With Archie Doing?

We won’t know for sure until the year-end sales figures are out, but I’ve been wondering how Life With Archie has been doing. I’ve noticed a number of format changes in the magazine that concern me. Issue #12, shown here, changed its cover noticeably between solicitation (on the left) and what actually shipped (on the right).

Life With Archie #12 (Solicited) Life With Archie #12 (Shipped)

The feature promos are missing, with no celebrity pictures on the cover to draw teen attention. They came close to being false advertising at times in the past, but they gathered interest in venues like Toys ‘R’ Us. Speaking of which, has anyone seen it there lately? Are they still carrying it?

The interior paper stock has changed to cheap newsprint. Of its 64 pages, only nine carry ads, and those are all for Archie comic back issues or subscriptions or graphic novels sold at a discount, not any outside products that would pay for the space. Archie the publisher has even dropped the price on books that are only three or four months old by a third if you buy multiples. There were, however, two blow-in lap cards for subscribing to Tiger Beat magazine. You know, the teeny-bopper celebrity picture mag?

Beyond the two stories (one each for Betty and Veronica), there are only two pages of other content. One pinup has the cast drawn “as the cast of Mad Men” while the other is the now-standard “Everything’s Archie” promo back page. What happened to the magazine idea, with other pieces and features? Has the company cut the additional material to avoid the costs of generating it? At least it hasn’t gone to 100% reprints, as the Archie & Friends comic title has.

Meanwhile, Archie’s second planned magazine, Veronica & Betty, was supposed to launch this past spring. Looks like it’s been quietly cancelled.

23 Responses to “How’s Life With Archie Doing?”

  1. Anthony Says:

    On top of the above, they’ve dropped the “Jinx” backup feature (via moving it to digital-only on Comixology, etc., though it’s been awhile since the second issue came out… hoping it’s not been canceled). *That*, and looks like the price is going up to $4.99 an issue in October.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Guys, I am sorry to say this, but I believe the new generation is going to digital 100%. I was talking to a friend of mine today, he has two young kids. They do not buy comic books at all but they enjoy reading comic strips and other comic book stuff online.

    It would, therefore, be interesting to see how the digital sale is going for the Archie gang.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Archie’s been leading in the digital area, making their full line of publications available on the same day they’re in print, doing digital-only releases, and pricing sensibly. I would imagine that’s helping them in that area.

  4. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    i bought an early issue at Wal-mart, but haven’t seen the past few issues there at all. I though it had already been cancelled or made direct/digital only because of that disappearance. It was (is?) well-done, which is no surprise because Archie is very professional at what they do. However, it did seem sparse on content for the price. If the cover price is going up another dollar, it’s not long for the world as an actual print publication.

  5. Shannon Smith Says:

    My daughter has a subscription to Life With Archie and we both love it. I actually prefer the changes and think the comics have been getting better and better. However, I too had the same fears that the changes were because the mag was not doing well. We used to see it in Wal-Mart but we have not in months. The only place we see it is CVS and the nearest CVS is, well not near us. I was bummed Jinx never showed up in the mag.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Oh, yes, the WalMart distribution deal — shame that that seems to have ended as well.

    I’m not sure what happened with Jinx. I was contacted about some blog promotion they wanted to do, but it never happened, perhaps because they thought it wasn’t worth doing a push when their plans with the property changed. I would have liked to have read some of it, since writer J Torres is an old friend, but digital-only is more complicated for me to check out.

  7. Anatole Wilson Says:

    I’ve been wondering for a while, but have never been able to get am answer–what are the demographics of Archie readers these days? The comic book retailers and librarians I’ve asked say the Archie books don’t circulate well at all. Who is their audience?

  8. Johanna Says:

    I’m not sure we can find that out, other than anecdotally. If comic stores that stocked Archie were willing to say who they saw buying them, for instance, but that leaves out the mass market retailers.

  9. Shannon Smith Says:

    My daughter is 9. She’s been reading Archie stuff either in the digests or in the Life With Archie mag at least monthly since she was 6. At one point we were buying a digest every week (if she got a 100 on her spelling test- she always got a 100 on her spelling test) but the local grocery store stopped carrying them. CVS seems to be the only place I still see Archie books. Their spots at the check out lines seem to be filled by soap opera and diet digest mags.

  10. Comics A.M. | Comic sales up in August; CDC looks to motion comics to fight HIV | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    […] Comics | Johanna Draper Carlson takes a look at some recent changes in the Life With Archie magazine, which has dual storylines in which Archie marries Veronica and Betty, respectively. With the 12th issue, she sees cheaper paper stock and the disappearance of both ads and celebrity features. [Comics Worth Reading] […]

  11. Kiel Phegley Says:

    We did an interview with Mike Pellerito a while back where he spoke some to the format changes in the magazine:

    Whether you take all this at its word or view it as spin is up to you.

  12. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for sharing that. I do tend to think “we’re giving readers more of what they want” is a bit spin-centric, but good for them that they found that way to express it.

  13. Jim Kosmicki Says:

    interestingly enough, I was at Wal-mart today and they had about 6 copies of #12, so maybe the changes aren’t more of what readers want as much as more of what Wal-mart wanted??

  14. Torsten Adair Says:

    Just a reminder… the rack space at the registers is golden, and just as pricey. Archie could be scaling back at stores where the sales are not as successful.

    The digests are the only comics I see at my local Rite Aid. I don’t recall seeing the magazine.

    The magazine is excellent! Archie soap opera! I’ll buy the Jinx collection when it comes out!

    Also… the comics content can be reprinted, either in a trade or a future digest. Not so the “teen beat” pages.

  15. Acer Says:

    ARGH!!! Why can’t we, as a society, do more in advancing socio-economic progress and keeping technological progress at a steadier pace? If everything didn’t go digital so quick all at once, we’d have a safer publishing industry. Honestly, couldn’t they have just offset costs by using recycled paper instead of either moving back to cheaper stock or using the higher-gloss material???? Would that have been so bad????

  16. F Dawson Says:

    ‘Life With Archie’ seemed to me a case of right format, wrong story content. I loved the magazine format and it felt to me that for a while Archie was the only comics company that had a clue at how to reach out to a mass demographic. I think though that the magazine would have been better served by a more ‘traditional’ take on Archie and the cast. I enjoyed the stories quite a bit but I think they were a bit dark and angsty to go across well with a young female market. I’m sad the Betty and Veronica mag has been shelved since I think that looked like a better mix of form and content.

  17. Johanna Says:

    I feel the same way, but as a counter-argument: the content of Life With Archie really reminds me of some of the CW-style shows that are hot among teens, like 90210 or Gossip Girl. The ridiculously over-the-top occurrences, with a new revelation every other page, seem to fit that soap opera style.

  18. Kevin Keller Gets Married; Life With Archie More Progressive Than Many States » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I was wondering about the future of Life With Archie magazine, it looks like they’ll be around for at least four more […]

  19. John Conley Says:

    At the website, artist Dan Parent commented a few months ago that the launch for the Veronica and Betty magazine has been rescheduled for 2012.

  20. Johanna Says:

    Thanks for sharing that information! I hope we do see it then.

  21. Chris Schillig Says:

    As a 42-year-old male, I doubt I’m the magazine’s target demographic, but I enjoy it anyway. Finding Life with Archie, however, has been more and more challenging. It’s no longer stocked at the Walgreens near my home or at any Wal-Mart store I’ve checked. I finally found #14 at Books-A-Million.

    More disturbing than the paper downgrade and the format tweaks is the rotation of artists. It looks as if Norm Breyfogle is gone, replaced by serviceable but less talented pencilers and inkers. The change is noticeable.

  22. Ed WItt Says:

    I love this series! I picked up issue 14 just to check it out and loved the concept, just got back issues and the 1st 6 that has been put into book format at my local comic store. But LWA is carrried at Barnes and Noble.

  23. Mark Moore Says:

    Someone at Archie Comics Fan Forum recently mentioned seeing Life With Archie #22 at a Wal-Mart, so apparently it’s not completely gone from the chain.




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