What Is Going on With Archie’s Shipping Dates?

Kevin Keller #13

Last Wednesday was May 14. Archie shipped the following titles to comic shops:

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.

Kevin Keller #13

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 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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