Where Are the New Archie Stories? Reprints and Reduced Publication Schedule
I’m looking at the Previews catalog for October, listing what publishers plan to sell in December, and I found the Archie Comics section a little odd.
Their big project this month is Archie Meets Kiss, with the first two of four planned issues offered in which their characters interact with the classic shock rock band. They’ve gotten a lot of attention for this unique project, justifiably.
However, when you look at the rest of the line… there are four digests, two collections, one magazine (Life With Archie #16, where Kevin Keller gets married), and only two standard comic issues. (I’m ignoring the video game titles, Mega Man and Sonic the Hedgehog.)
That’s not a lot for an entire month. Perhaps Archie thinks that they don’t get a lot of customers for their regular comics during the holidays, or they want to give their employees a light month, given the time period, or there’s some other reason. But when I look at the two comics, one is completely a reprint. (The digests are usually mostly reprint, but the comics previously have contained new stories, to feed the digests later.) Archie & Friends #159 has some Man/Girl From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. spy parodies that first appeared in Life With Archie #56 in 1966. The other comic, Betty & Veronica #257, seems to be new.
It started me wondering, though — with all the material they have in their vaults, with no creative costs since they’re a full-ownership publisher, Archie could go all-reprint all the time, and I’m not sure anyone would notice. It would certainly be a way to save money while trying to get more media interest in the properties.
At the beginning of the year, I took a survey of Archie’s titles. At that point, they had seven digests and seven comics (again, ignoring the video game books, counting Life With Archie as a comic). This year, from January through September, they’ve released
- 5 issues of Betty
- 5 issues of Jughead
- 4 of Betty & Veronica
- 4 issues of Veronica (2 of which are really Kevin Keller)
- 7 of Archie & Friends (although some of that is reprint, as noted above)
- 9 issues of Archie
- 7 of Life With Archie magazine
So it seems that Archie Comics now only has one monthly comic, their flagship title. The digests run more frequently, which would fit with my supposition that they’re concentrating mostly on reprints these days. Through September of this year:
- 9 issues of Betty & Veronica Double Digest
- 7 issues of Betty & Veronica Friends Double Digest
- 7 issues of Jughead’s Double Digest
- 7 issues of World of Archie Double Digest
- 8 issues of Archie Double Digest
- 7 issues of Archie & Friends Double Digest
In this case, there are two monthlies, one each for Archie and the girls. And Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest is gone. Shame, I liked that goofy title, but “World of Archie” probably plays better.
Can you run a major publishing company putting out 86 items over nine months? I guess so. Plenty of indy comic publishers have fewer releases, but they also don’t have two CEOs and a couple of Executive Directors on their mastheads. Then again, they don’t have Archie’s 70-year library of material to keep reprinting.