Comics Worth Reading » Archie Comics Independent Opinions on Comics of All Kinds Thu, 05 Mar 2015 15:04:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Archie Comics Moves From Riverdale to Superheroes Mon, 19 Jan 2015 02:29:25 +0000 The Fox #1 cover by Dean Haspiel

The Fox #1 cover by Dean Haspiel

The January issue of the Diamond Previews preordering catalog has an odd discrepancy when it comes to Archie Comics offerings.

They’re promoting two new titles in their Dark Circle Comics superhero line, The Black Hood #2 (with three variant covers) and the relaunch of The Fox with a new #1 (and five variant covers).

However, when you look at their comic offerings — items that aren’t digests or paperback collections or magazines — there are NO core titles listed. No Archie, and no Betty and Veronica, which were the only two left. The video game titles — Mega Man and various Sonic items — are still ongoing, though.

Has Archie finally decided that they don’t need to pay for new material in the Riverdale universe, since they can run their digests and collections for years on reprints? The February Previews is due out soon, so I guess I’ll have to check there to see if this is a temporarily hiatus.

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Archie Flagship to Relaunch With Mark Waid as Writer Mon, 15 Dec 2014 02:02:41 +0000 The New York Times has the scoop: Archie Comics is relaunching their flagship Archie title with a new #1 issue next year. (The most recent issue was #262.) They’re aiming for a “new look and an edgier tone”.

The effort is timed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Archie, who was introduced in 1941, and coincides with plans for a television series on Fox and an apparel line from the fashion designer Marc Ecko.

Archie art by Fiona Staples

Good luck with the TV show — I think the problem with branding Archie is that the CW has already shown that you can do the “normal guy tempted by a nice girl and a rich girl” triangle perfectly well without having to license a character with baggage and fees. However, Greg Berlanti (the show runner behind comic book adaptations Arrow and The Flash) is working on Riverdale for Fox.

Company head Jon Goldwater said, in light of the revamp, “I found Archie to be dusty, irrelevant and watered-down. It has taken me a while to really wrap my hands around where we are as a brand.” He wants to keep Archie relevant while still “lighthearted and family-friendly”.

However, reportedly, sales are up. “Since 2008, bookstore sales have increased 736 percent, and direct-market sales, which include those in specialty stores like comic book shops, rose 226 percent, according to the publisher.” I’d like to have more detail about that — they may be referring to non-periodical formats, since the comic book numbers don’t match that statement. And so few of the core Riverdale comic book titles are left — just Archie monthly and Betty and Veronica less frequently. They publish more reprint books now, which would do better in the bookstores.

Creators of the new version of the series will be Mark Waid and Fiona Staples (her art above). Waid plans to have the kids act like kids, instead of goody-goody brands (my words, not his), which should be refreshing.

Update: Fiona Staples has stated on Twitter that she’s only penciling the first three issues.

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Both Katy Perry, Katy Keene Playing With Female Archetypes Wed, 13 Aug 2014 21:32:07 +0000 Robot 6 had a short article about the video embedded below. It’s a comparison of singer Katy Perry’s many costumes with similar outfits worn by Katy Keene, a model character created by Bill Woggon and first published by Archie Comics in 1945.

Of course, because the internet, it’s phrased as asking whether Perry is “ripping off” or “copying” Keene. Well, no. While the comparisons are quite amusing, it isn’t much of a stretch for a female performer to dress up as a catwoman or a bride or a mermaid or a jungle girl (or much imagination from artists to wrap a character in a flag or have her straddle a rocket).

Some of the comparisons are quite stretched and demonstrate simple fashion trends — for example, everyone in the 80s had a big red jacket and in the 50s, a big crinoline skirt. And no matter what we do, leopard print keeps coming back. Still, I found it fun to see the costumes. (Also, the video maker doesn’t know his right from his left.)

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Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty Mon, 04 Aug 2014 13:02:17 +0000 Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty cover
Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty

Archie Comics is tackling the popular “illustrated diary” format (think Dork Diaries or Diary of a Wimpy Kid) with this hardcover starring the Riverdale girl next door, Betty.

It’s aimed for kids 9-12 years old, which is obvious. Although the stories are supposedly about Betty’s fears and struggles entering high school, she seems much younger. It’s a well-known saying that kids like to read up from their age, so that aspect doesn’t bother me; what does is how goofy Betty seems. She was always competent at so many things, from reporting to car repair, but that character is nowhere to be seen in these pages. Instead, this little girl is panicky and goofy, whether she’s starting a dog training service or dreaming of competing on a BMX bike or lying about having a little brother to give the school counselor a problem to help her with.

Another element that seemed out of character to me was how boy-crazy Betty was about Archie. She’s constantly writing about how cute he is or coming up with some scheme to spend time with him. It felt overdone. We do get to see other familiar characters like Jughead, Reggie, and Veronica, who is portrayed as a stereotypical mean girl desperate to be accepted by the older high schoolers. As a result, Betty hangs out with Jughead more than she does anyone else.

As a cartoon, interspersed with the text, Betty looks extremely generic, one step up from a stick figure with a ponytail. Typical of trend-chasing, this book feels a couple years too late to really hit the market. The stories are cute, but they could have applied to any kid character, so there’s nothing uniquely Archie about any of this. It feels like a graft, as though the Archie gang was pasted into a preexisting book just to get something out in this format. New readers might wonder why these particular characters hang out together; Archie fans will find Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty unsatisfying and out of character.

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A Retailer Concerned About Archie’s Business Practices Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:52:24 +0000 Retailer Brandon Schatz, in a post at The Beat (no longer available), points out a lot of interesting observations about Archie Comics’ recent business practices. I hadn’t realized that they’d suddenly jumped their cover prices up to the now-standard $3.99, but the other concerns — eliminating digests and series, shipping late, missing solicitations — make me worry as well. He says

Afterlife With Archie #6 cover

It would be easy to say that the company is entering a period of creative and cultural renaissance. Unfortunately, this seems to be down to necessity more than anything else. A look at the various moves the company has made quietly in the background paints a picture of quiet desperation. …

The current Archie line consists of their flagship title (Archie, of course) and a bi-monthly shipping Betty & Veronica series — as the buzzy Kevin Keller ongoing has very recently joined the scrap pile. The rest is either licensed, or part of a new darker initiative that has been met with heavy delays. While the line still has some consistent performers, recent signs have pointed to the company having some cash flow problems….

These are all things publishers do or have done when they are in trouble. Low selling books get their production schedule slashed, books ship late as the company waits on money to come in. Writers start looking more and more like people from the editorial masthead (Alex Segura, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) as the overlap generally saves money.

He makes a significant case out of Aguirre-Sacasa’s Afterlife With Archie being planned as a monthly but not being solicited as one, but he doesn’t point out the likeliest reason why — this is what happens when you start working with writers from Hollywood to chase media attention. It happened with Kevin Smith at DC and J. Michael Straczynski at Marvel, to name two of the most obvious examples (and I never expect to see Jeph Loeb’s Captain America: White). The fact is, the Hollywood day job is more important and pays better. Then again, artist Francesco Francavilla is doing a lot as well, working on Hawkeye and his own Black Beetle as well as a number of covers.

Schatz goes on to promote the importance of regular shipping in building audience and thus sales. There are a lot of important ideas in his essay, although I hope he’s wrong about the company. If nothing else, I found out that Afterlife With Archie has its own website that includes a release schedule.

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Recent Archie Comics Serve as Character Catalogs Sat, 12 Jul 2014 20:55:54 +0000 The last two Archie Comic issues are quite interesting, in that their stories are less complete tales and more frameworks that they can hang as many character mentions as possible on.

Archie #657 cover

Cover by Dan Parent and Bob Smith

This week’s Archie #657 is a beach party issue written by Tom DeFalco with pencils by Pat & Tim Kennedy and inks by Rich Koslowski. Archie keeps falling down while trying to windsurf, while mentions are blatantly made of the Madhouse Glads band, Wilbur, Bingo, their girlfriends Laurie Lake and Samantha Smythe, and the Didit Brothers. (Who are the Glads, a connection I didn’t realize until KC explained it to me. And isn’t it interesting the girls are introduced with last names and their boyfriends aren’t?) Some of these are pretty obscure, although the main antagonist is Cheryl Blossom, back to being a scheming vixen.

Betty & Veronica #271 cover

Cover by Dan Parent

Last week’s Betty & Veronica #271 is even more of a catalog, and its cover even features a few additional logos, emphasizing the guest stars. It’s also written by Tom DeFalco, with pencils by Fernando Ruin and inks by Bob Smith.

In it, Veronica’s mother Hermione is feeling insecure, since her old friend, a famous designer, is coming to town and staging a fashion show. Ms. Lodge says she feels “so plain and insignificant in comparison”. This is a very odd emotion for a fabulously wealthy woman who’s proud of herself, her husband, and her daughter to have, particularly since the fashion show is just an excuse to list off most every female Archie character.

We start, of course, with model Katy Keene and her supporting cast. Josie and the Pussycats are playing for the show, accompanied by Alexandra and her cat Sebastian. She’s back to having magical powers, it seems. Ginger Snapp wants to become a model. Sabrina the Teenage Witch pops in, as does Midge, Ginger Lopez, Cricket O’Dell, Trula Twyst, Nancy Woods, and a whole bunch more, half of whom I’ve never heard of. It’s something of an odd reading experience, with a whole page of full names used as though they’re significant although we have no idea who they are.

Overall, the message is one of friendship being important and being able to solve problems when your friends come through for you. Then again, friendship isn’t such a chore if the favor you’re asked to do is wear glamorous clothes and have people applaud you.

So, speculating on why Archie Comics would want to do this, two reasons immediately come to mind:

* Intellectual property maintenance. Trademarks, as on character names, can be lost if they’re not maintained, so dumping a whole bunch of characters into these stories allow the company to show that they’re still interested in using all of them.

* Sample giveaways. With an increasing push towards getting more Hollywood attention for the cast and publications, issues like these are great to give to producers and other licensing decision-makers. They can be used as a kind of catalog for them to select characters they might be interested in developing for other media or products.

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Sabrina Coming Back to Comics Thu, 26 Jun 2014 01:34:39 +0000 Sabrina #1 cover

Afterlife With Archie has been a smashing success for the publisher, so they’re expanding their horror line with a Sabrina comic relaunch, coming in October according to USA Today. It’ll be written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also writes Afterlife, although this one is described as darker than that.

Artist Robert Hack says, “Sabrina takes characters we know and love and pushes them in a new, ghastly direction.” So, not necessarily a comic for me, then. I don’t look forward to stories that “alternate between tugging at heartstrings and ripping them out.” I am curious about one aspect, though; Sabrina will be “a period book with a retro vibe set in the 1960s that acts as a retelling of her origin” as a teenage witch.

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What Is Going on With Archie’s Shipping Dates? Sat, 17 May 2014 15:17:45 +0000 Last Wednesday was May 14. Archie shipped the following titles to comic shops:

Kevin Keller #13 cover

Afterlife With Archie #5 (Andrew Pepoy Variant Cover), $2.99
Afterlife With Archie #5 (Francesco Francavilla Regular Cover), $2.99
Archie #655 (Fernando Ruiz Cosmo Merry Martian Variant Cover), $2.99
Archie #655 (Fernando Ruiz Regular Cover), $2.99
Archie 1000 Page Comics Bonanza TP, $14.99
Kevin Keller #13 (Dan Parent Regular Cover), $2.99
Kevin Keller #13 (Ryan Jampole Chibi Variant Cover), $2.99
Life With Archie #35 (Chad Thomas Burger Beast Variant Cover), $3.99
Life With Archie #35 (Fernando Ruiz Regular Cover), $3.99
Sonic The Hedgehog Archives Volume 2 TP (New Printing), $7.95
Sonic Universe #63 (Ryan Jampole Chibi Variant Cover), $2.99
Sonic Universe #63 (Tracy Yardley Regular Cover), $2.99

Leaving aside the increasing reliance on variant covers — a tactic that now takes up most of the “Everything’s Archie” promo page in the back of the comics — I found this list rather interesting for how many delayed titles were on it.

Let’s compare this list to the promotional copy on the line-wide page I mentioned. The “Everything’s Archie” page is meant to cross-promote the books, and it appears in all the comics coming out that month. It says:

In stores the week of April 22, 2014
Betty & Veronica #271
Mega Man #36
World of Archie Double Digest #39
Sonic Archives #23

In stores the week of April 29, 2014
Sonic Universe #63
B&V Friends Double Digest #238

In stores the week of May 6, 2014
Archie #655
Betty & Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest #223
Life With Archie #35

In stores the week of May 13, 2014
Archie’s Funhouse Comics Digest #5
Sonic/Mega Man Worlds Collide Volume #3

I understand that they don’t advertise Afterlife With Archie, given its adult material, but the rest of these dates are wrong, to varying degrees.

Archie and Life With Archie were each a week late. Sonic Universe was two weeks late. This issue of Kevin Keller, according to one of my readers, was available digitally in *March*, two months ago. It was promoted in print as being on sale on March 25, which matches up. The B&V Friends Double Digest was similarly available in late April digitally, but the next month in print. (Oddly, comiXology lists the digital and print release dates as the same. Retroactive dating? Or different dates for different venues?)

The two books listed as now on sale are likely to show up later this month from Diamond. Now, it’s not surprising when the comic distributor ships a week late — it’s happened with other publishers. Sometimes they promote their books being available without taking into account the distributor’s processing time. But this in-comic list, which comes directly from the publisher, is incorrect more often than not. What value does it have as a promotional tool, then?

Let’s look again at that first set of books, scheduled for April 22. Betty & Veronica #271 hasn’t shipped through comic shops yet, making it at least a month late. Mega Man #36 came out April 30. And World of Archie Double Digest #39 came out last week, May 7.

When the dates are off by more than a week, I have to wonder what the reason for the delay is. If this was a smaller, less reputable company, I’d be speculating on which bills they are late paying, the printer or the distributor. But that can’t be the case here, can it? One fan reports that a notable mail-order dealer notified him that “pre-orders for B&V #272 were cancelled.” That’s likely a result of the book getting so late that orders needed to be resolicited, although others jump to the conclusion that the title could be cancelled without anyone much caring.

These delays also make the advertising outdated, as the May 14 issue of Archie is promoting Free Comic Book Day, which happened on May 3. At least that’s one outside company ad, since most of the rest (with the exception of a Batman bust and a Lego Star Wars book?) are for Archie’s own publications. That’s not a bad thing, except they’re all offered on discount — 20% or 33% or 48% off cover price.

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Archie Dies in the Latest Life With Archie Marketing Stunt Thu, 08 May 2014 11:24:46 +0000 KC’s latest Westfield column explains several things. First are the different ways to read Archie Comics’ “Death of Archie Andrews” story, appearing in July —

Life With Archie: Death of an Icon

  • Life With Archie magazine #36 will be the final issue of that title. The first part shows Archie’s death, billed as “the ultimate sacrifice to save a friend”; the second, how everyone is coping a year later.
  • The same content will also be printed in two comic-sized issues. Those, confusingly, are also labeled Life With Archie #36 and #37.
  • The comic issues will each have five variant covers (all visible at the link) from notable artists including Adam Hughes, Cliff Chiang, Jill Thompson, Alex Ross, and Walter Simonson.
  • A trade paperback version called Life With Archie: Death of an Icon: A Life Celebrated will include the two comic issues and all the variant covers in August.

I’m trying to be optimistic and assume that they’re making the material available in a variety of formats so everyone can get their preferred type, not to sell the same story over and over. Now they’ve had Archie dating interracially, getting married, now dying, even a series where the characters eat each other. What I wonder is, what next?

KC also uses this occasion to talk about an earlier death of an alternate-universe version of Archie, the infamous Goodman Beaver story “Goodman Goes Playboy”. The publisher Archie Comics had the rights and kept the parody out of print for years, until they accidentally forgot to renew and it became public domain. You can learn more about how it satirized Archie and his gang, as well as how to read it, at the link.

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Archie Sales Figures for 2013 Fri, 02 May 2014 21:14:04 +0000 I’m two months late — this information is usually available in March — because I’ve quit reading Archie titles as often. Then again, some titles are delayed so much that one of the statements of ownership was just published two weeks ago (although that issue had the “now on sale” notice for titles dated .

This is my seventh year compiling the Archie sales figures filed with the government from the Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation the company is required to include in their publications. These numbers appeared in issues published between February 26 and April 23, 2014. Here are previous years for comparison:

Note that these figures don’t cover the videogame titles — Sonic, Mega Man — or other non-Archie-character books. That’s because I don’t read those and so don’t have access to the data. Reportedly, those books do better than the core Riverdale line.

According to the online subscription store, Archie Comics currently publishes six double digests and two comic titles. However, there are a number of caveats to that, as I note below.

The comic line offers Archie (published monthly) and Betty & Veronica (published six times a year). Last year, there was a third, Kevin Keller, but that apparently ended with #12, published in January. (Update: KK is just incredibly delayed, see comments.) Afterlife With Archie is a direct market-only title, so it won’t have one of the Statements (which relate to mailing permits), although comic store sales are estimated about 24,000 for issue #3. That’s darn good for the company — no wonder they’re planning a movie based on the zombie concept.

Other periodicals include the magazine-format Life With Archie, which is ending with issue #37. Issue #34 is the last one released; it came out in February. (By my guess, if there are circulation numbers, they’ll be in #35; if so, I’ll update when that issue is available.) I didn’t realize that the larger-sized Super Special line is considered a series as well. It’s released quarterly and cover-priced at $9.99, which gives it a great cost/price ratio, since it’s all reprint.

That leaves us with two comics. These are the Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation figures that Archie files with the government. The first number is the Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months; the second is No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date.

TitleAverageNearest IssueTotal Published (Nearest)% Sold of Published
Betty & Veronica8,6809,82522,63143%
Kevin Keller5,5326,07515,53039%

About the best thing I can say about these numbers is that they’re selling more of what they’re printing, slightly, which is a good thing. Last year, Archie sold from 12-15,000, while B&V was about the same. I have long suspected that they’re still publishing Betty & Veronica for historical or brand reasons, since these are the numbers that got the Jughead and Betty titles cancelled.

Archie says it publishes six digests, like last year, but I don’t believe them, because Betty & Veronica Friends last released an issue in October with #236. (Update: I missed an entry — there was a #237 in December. None in 2014, though.) It’s still on the subscription site, though — I wonder what happens if you order it?

Archie & Friends became Archie’s Funhouse, and Jughead became Jughead and Archie as of last week. The trend is apparently to use the lead character’s name as much as possible. He’s now in the title of four of the five digests, and the only other one is Betty & Veronica. All are still “Double Digests”, although they rotate the “Double Double Digest” format through them as a way of temporarily raising the page count and price. Double Digests are $3.99, while Double Double Digests are $5.99. All publish 11 times a year, according to the company.

TitleAverageNearest IssueTotal Published (Nearest)% Sold of Published
Archie’s Funhouse34,16536,722132,69828%
Betty & Veronica40,94645,064139,17932%
World of Archie34,03139,579137,46529%
B&V Friends33,55334,407129,34827%

The Jughead number may be misleading, since that was a Double Double Digest to mark the 200th issue, and also the last issue before the relaunch with a new title. As with the issues, the percentage sold numbers are up, which suggests better judgment of demand. Otherwise, sales are slightly down compared to last year, but not substantially so. Although when I first started doing this, the two best-selling digests regularly cracked 100,000 copies sold, so I guess it’s a matter of perspective. That was six years ago, though.

Overall, this appears to be a status quo year, one holding relatively steady. I’d like to see more periodical comics from the company, personally, but I couldn’t demonstrate that the sales are there to support such an expansion.

Update: The Life With Archie figures are available in issue #35, but weirdly, the 15c (total paid distribution) numbers are both 0. Must be a typo. Total distribution numbers are 8,717 (average) and 8,656 (nearest issue) with about 160 free distribution to subtract.

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Archie Archives Enters 1948 With a Cover Surprise Sat, 22 Mar 2014 21:14:46 +0000 Out this week was the ninth volume of the Archie Archives series, and I’m glad to see it continue.

This installment reprints comics from 1947 and 1948, specifically Archie Comics #29-31 and selected stories from Pep Comics #65-66 and Laugh Comics #24-26. Most of them are drawn by Bill Vigoda, so we’ve still got buck-toothed, pop-eyed, grinning Archie in ridiculously slapstick situations. Many of them are funny but oddly death-defying, as one story features Archie shooting rifles incorrectly and another has him knocking someone out of an airplane.

Archie also babysits, wears a tux and stilts around town for an advertising job, delivers weenies for a weenie roast, watches Veronica’s pet cats, tries out for the football team, dances in a jitterbug contest (with Reggie, since it’s boy pair against girls), and other all-American-teen activities of the era.

The focus is firmly on the redheaded boy, and I missed the wider cast of teens I’m more used to seeing, particularly significant interactions with Betty and Veronica. The occasional story with just the pair of girls highlights their figures, as they fight over new baseball uniforms with short shorts (and a shower scene!) or exercise in their underwear to lose weight for a beauty contest.

Jill Thompson provides a lovely foreword talking about the influence Archie Comics has had on her as an artist and person.

I don’t recall, since it’s been a year since the last book, whether this was true of previous volumes, but I liked the surprise I got when I slipped off the slipcover and noted that the book is designed to resemble the Riverdale high school yearbook. How perfect!

Archie Archives Volume 9 cover

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Archie Movie Confirmed on Hold Fri, 21 Mar 2014 02:37:55 +0000 ICv2 ran an interview with Jon Goldwater, Publisher and Co-CEO of Archie Comics, yesterday. As one would expect, it’s mostly generic puffery: Archie’s “still the #1 mass market comic book in the world”. Archie’s decades of history make it a well-known property. People are looking for quality entertainment. Archie’s broad-based, suitable for everyone.

Jon Goldwater

I found Goldwater’s mantra, “Archie is open for business”, interesting. He uses it to mean that he’ll consider new artists, new talent, new styles, and new approaches, if it “makes sense for Archie”, but considering “anything that makes sense for the company and for the brand” runs the risk of losing focus.

Case in point, the Archie movie announced last year is on hold, so they can look into an Afterlife With Archie movie instead. There’s also “a lot of discussion around Josie and Katy Keene”, which could be fun. Goldwater also elaborates a bit on what the new Chief Creative Officer announcement means.

In terms of the books, the new push is the upcoming Red Circle superhero comics, which I’m disappointed to hear. So many other people do those kinds of hero books, I’d rather see Archie expand more in their core areas of romance and teen comedy.

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Riverdale Podcast Covers Recent Archie News Sun, 09 Mar 2014 18:29:19 +0000 riverdalepodcast

I guested this week on the Riverdale Podcast (at that link, click the image to access the mp3) to discuss the recent news about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa being named Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics and Lena Dunham working on writing a title for the company.

The segment about these announcements starts at 9:55, with separate discussion segments with me (11:50) talking about Hollywood/comic connections and Chris Sims (25:14), who’s spoken with Aguirre-Sacasa about his love of the characters.

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Lena Dunham Working on Archie Comic; Archie Names Chief Creative Officer Mon, 03 Mar 2014 02:05:12 +0000 In this New York Times article about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa becoming the new Chief Creative Officer for Archie Comics, there’s an interesting tidbit near the end. Lena Dunham, creator and star of the much-discussed HBO sitcom Girls, will be writing an Archie story for 2015. Seems she’s a long-time fan and owns “the first Archie comic”.

Archie #641 cover

The majority of the story, though is about Aguirre-Sacasa being asked “to figure out the best way to exploit the company’s characters in comics, of course, but also in other media.” He wrote the Archie/Glee crossover last year (which only sold 4,500 copies for its first issue, which sounds ridiculously low) as well as the current success Afterlife With Archie (which does much better with 42,000 sold). Aguirre-Sacasa works on the Glee TV show and is based in Los Angeles, all the better for media outreach.

This is pretty good for someone who ten years ago was being threatened with legal action from the company for writing the play Archie’s Weird Fantasy (later renamed Weird Comic Book Fantasy) about the icon’s coming out. Aguirre-Sacasa has also written for Marvel Comics and will be seeking to enlist the right talent for Archie character projects. Given the Hollywood slant, strange that this article doesn’t mention the Archie film in development at Warner Bros.

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Archie’s New Focus on Boys, Not Girls Wed, 08 Jan 2014 01:53:31 +0000 Archie Comics logo

Here’s the list of what’s coming out from Archie Comics tomorrow:

Afterlife With Archie #3 (Francesco Francavilla Regular Cover), $2.99
Afterlife With Archie #3 (Tim Seeley Variant Cover), $2.99
Archie #651 (Dan Parent Regular Cover), $2.99
Archie #651 (Renae De Liz Battle Of The Bands Variant Cover), $2.99
Archie Double Digest #247, $3.99
Fox #3 (Dean Haspiel Regular Cover), $2.99
Fox #3 (Mike Allred Get Freaky Variant Cover), $2.99
Kevin Keller #12 (Dan Parent Regular Cover), $2.99
Kevin Keller #12 (Phil Jimenez New Years Variant Cover), $2.99
Sonic The Hedgehog Legacy Series Volume 3 TP, $16.99

It made me realize something. As Archie targets the comic market more actively — Afterlife With Archie, the zombie title, is direct-market-only, while The Fox is a revamped superhero, and variant covers are a long-standing DM trick to boost sales on the same amount of story material — its titles focus more on boys, not girls. Archie is the only monthly title the company puts out any more from its core Riverdale universe. The girls, who used to be a focus of multiple comics, are down to one title, the six-times-a-year Betty and Veronica. The new projects have gone to Kevin Keller and the Fox.

Girls also used to be a core part of Archie’s audience. Now, that’s not so big a deal, since there are many more graphic novels for young women to read, so they’re no longer relegated to the “Archie ghetto”, but I thought it was worth noting as a comic market change.

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Sexual Assault in an Archie Comic Sat, 16 Nov 2013 15:38:43 +0000 I don’t have much to add to this, other than that it entertained me. Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep has posted about a simple 1980 Archie story in which Reggie has plans to frame Archie for kissing Midge. Sounds innocent enough, until you realize it involves sexual assault and setting someone up to get beaten. (There’s a reason we don’t see Moose much in modern-day stories.) The punchline is particularly odd, as the blog points out, and I won’t spoil it here. My, how times have changed — sometimes for the better!

Reggie kissing Midge

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KC Reviews Afterlife With Archie Thu, 24 Oct 2013 13:03:05 +0000 The Art of Archie: The Covers cover
The Art of Archie: The Covers

KC’s latest Westfield column presents his thoughts on the recent Afterlife With Archie (which I also reviewed). He also talks about Archie’s other current comics and what’s going on with those titles, including the new The Art of Archie: The Covers coffee table book.

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I Guest on Riverdale Podcast to Discuss the Sabrina Cartoon Sun, 20 Oct 2013 19:13:39 +0000 riverdalepodcast

The new Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch cartoon debuted last week on the Hub network. I watched it as preparation for guesting on the most recent episode of the Riverdale Podcast, where we discussed the show and the character.

The Riverdale podcast is a weekly show dedicated to all things Archie. The Sabrina cartoon segment, and my guesting, begins about 22 minutes into this extra-long episode of the podcast. I fear we spent more time talking about the premiere episode, “Dances With Werewolves”, than it ran!

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Afterlife With Archie #1 Thu, 10 Oct 2013 03:14:09 +0000 I wasn’t encouraged when Afterlife With Archie was first announced, since I’m not a fan of zombies, and blending that type of monster with teenage hijinks seemed to indicate the publisher was a bit desperate for attention.

Afterlife With Archie #1 cover

Now that the first issue is out, though, I have to say, it’s a pretty good read. Mostly because the kids shown here feel more like teens than the usual Archie stereotypes. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Archie Meets Glee, the planned Archie movie) knows teens, and the ones here are, if not actually three-dimensional, a bit more realistically emotional than usual.

The whole thing starts, in a plot reminiscent of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, when Jughead’s pet Hot Dog gets run over. He goes to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to get help, but it’s too late. Except not — while she can’t heal the dog, she’ll raise it from the dead. But it comes back wrong, and … more on that next issue.

In the meantime, though, the kids are getting ready for the Halloween dance. Betty and Veronica’s sparring over Archie has a real bite to it, for once, and Reggie and Jughead display various shades of grief and concern.

Afterlife With Archie #1 variant cover

The art, by Francesco Francavilla, is moody and expressive, with closeups hitting the tension. The restricted color palette, mostly red and black, adds to the suspense. And you have to see Veronica in costume as Vampirella!

I didn’t like everything about this story. The way Sabrina’s written out, for example — she has to get the plot going but then it would be inconvenient to have her stick around and be able to do anything else — smacks of plot heavy-handedness. I knew I wouldn’t like her portrayal, though, when I saw the marketing had the writer talking about how she always gets spells wrong, which demonstrates ignorance of the character.

As you might gather from one of the variant covers (shown right; there are three, plus the standard), Archie’s aiming a bit older with this one, rating it (on the back cover) “teen+” for “violence and mature content”. It’s not often we see Betty in see-through negligee in official Archie titles.

Overall, this issue, like many Archie comics, doesn’t do much new. Instead, it translates familiar items (a fad, one might even say) to the familiar setting. But it does that well, and Archie fans will appreciate seeing the characters drawn with skill and spookiness.

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Moose’s Secret Origin, Part 2 Wed, 10 Jul 2013 21:13:49 +0000 In his latest Westfield column, KC finishes telling the story of Moose Mason he began last month. Find out his real name, and the real reason he struggles in school. (No, it’s not “too much football without a helmet”.)

Laugh #84 cover

Moose, always good for a dumb pun. Love the crew cut and flat hat!

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