Archie Comics launched the latest incarnation of Red Circle Comics as a digital app that combined comics from the 1930s to the 1980s, featuring early superheroes like The Shield and the Mighty Crusaders with new, digital-first comics starring a teen superhero team, the New Crusaders, composed of the children of those original characters.
Now, six months after the launch of the app, Archie is changing its strategy a bit to bring the digital comics in line with print. Instead of releasing The New Crusaders as a six-page digital comic once a week, followed by a print comic with the same material at the end of the month, the company will publish the complete comic digitally and in print on the same day. Archie is also moving its Lost Crusaders comics, which fill in the gaps in continuity between the old comics and the new ones, from a fifth-week to a monthly schedule.
Robot 6 talked exclusively to Paul Kaminski, executive director of editorial for Archie Comics and editor of The New Crusaders, about the changes and what lay behind them.
Robot 6: The Red Circle app is unlike anything in comics, so I’m guessing there has been a learning curve. Can you talk a bit about what parts of it are working and which ones still need a bit of work?
Paul Kaminiski: Red Circle is all about creating the ultimate comic book experience — and the subscription-based initiative was able to bring that experience to readers every week for the entire run of Rise of the Heroes. While the weekly six-page installments of New Crusaders were well-received, fans of the series and people looking to jump on let us know that complete issues, in both digital release and in print, were the way to go with New Crusaders! Now that the next step for the series is on the horizon (coming this spring!) we’ve got a unique opportunity to take what we learned, listen to the fans, and build on the app for the next series.
Conventions | Creators like Neal Adams, Tim Bradstreet, Howard Chaykin, Amanda Conner and Scott Lobdell will headline the Long Beach Comic & Horror Con, held Saturday and Sunday at the Long Beach Convention Center. “I think most of our artists are thrilled to come back each year,” said Phil Lawrence, principal sales director for the event. “This is the earliest we sold out our Artists Alley and we have almost 190 tables. By focusing on the artists and giving them their due, they seem to keep coming back and signing up earlier — and they promote the show, which helps us out, too.” [Gazettes.com]
Wait. Which talk were you thinking about?
Anyway, Templeton has the answer to his son’s age-old question and he’ll kindly share it with you. All you gotta do is click.
BuzzFeed has debuted Dan Parent’s cover for Archie #641, the first issue of a storyline in which the Riverdale gang meets the cast of Fox’s hit musical comedy-drama Glee. The image is kind of odd, in that it looks as if someone may have gone in after the artist to touch up the faces of Glee characters Rachel, Finn and Quinn. See the full cover below.
Announced in July, the crossover is penned by comics writer and Glee co-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Parent, and arrives on the heels of publisher’s much-publicized “Archie meets KISS” storyline.
“If you go back to the beginnings of modern music, if you will, with Elvis and moving forward with the Beatles and [Bob] Dylan – they established culturally the tone of what’s going on in the country,” Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater told Comic Book Resources. “That’s what I’ve been trying to establish in Riverdale. The characters stay the same, but Riverdale changes. And as musicians change in the culture, they can seamlessly integrate into comic books.”
Archie #641 arrives Feb. 27.
Manga | Hiroaki Samura will bring his long-running samurai revenge epic Blade of the Immortal to a close in the February issue of Kodansha’s Monthly Afternoon magazine (on stands Dec. 25) after 19 years. The series is published in the United States by Dark Horse; the 25th volume was released in North America in August. [Anime News Network]
Political cartoons | NPR talks to several editorial cartoonists about the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s decision to run cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The general sense seems to be that while the magazine had the right to do so, it wasn’t a good idea given the turmoil already caused by the YouTube trailer for Innocence of Muslims. Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker said, “Over the last few years, people have gotten the idea that cartoons are radioactive because they have the power to inspire riots. That doesn’t help cartooning in a certain sense.” And Daryl Cagle observes that the long-term effect is to make editors more timid. [NPR]
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
It’s an odd one for me this week; if I had $15, I’d probably just grab two of DC’s Zero Month books (Batman Incorporated and Flash, both $2.99) and then skip straight to the $30 portion of the week so that I could pick up the Showcase Presents Amethyst, Vol. 1 collection (DC, $19.99), if only to reassure me that the original series was good after last week’s revival.
If I were to splurge, I’d step outside of DC’s purview and go for IDW’s Joe Kubert Tarzan Artist Edition. I was one of the many people who didn’t really “get” Kubert as a kid, but his linework won me over as I got older, and the chance to see some of his best-looking art in ”real size” is something that I’d love to be able to embrace.
If I had $15, I’d get Batman Incorporated #0, probably the only DC zero book I’ll get, and Vol. 11 of Yotsuba&!, because I could use some irrepressibly cute manga about an adorable green-haired girl right about now.
If I had $30, I’d put away Yotsuba&! and get Barbara, Osamu Tezuka’s manga about a would-be artist who takes in a lovely but strange homeless woman, only to become convinced that she is his personal muse. I know there was a bit of grumbling that DMP went the Kickstarter route in getting this published, but honestly, I’m just happy to have more Tezuka in print.
What constitutes a splurge purchase? How about six, hardcover, slipcased volumes of Robert Crumb’s sketchbook work, priced at about $1,600, courtesy of the fine folks at Taschen? Yeah, I think buying that would be a “splurge purchase.” It would also constitute sheer madness and a one-way trip to the poorhouse, but at least you’d have all those nice Crumb books to keep you company. I’m sure they’d make a fine pillow.
Yesterday, Johanna Draper Carlson noted the subscription for the Jughead comic seems to have disappeared from the Archie Comics website, and some folks at Archiefans.com say they’ve received e-mails stating the title has been canceled.
I decided to go straight to the source and asked Archie’s new director of publicity and marketing, Adam Tracey, what the deal is. Here’s his reply:
As you’re aware, Archie has been reinventing itself for the last three years. That reinvention process is most visible in books like Life With Archie, Kevin Keller, The Art of Betty & Veronica, the New Crusaders comic, the Sonic and Archie Super Specials, and much more. Because Jughead is a very important character to us, that reinvention process will also apply to him. So while we’re putting together exactly how to do that, we’ve put the Jughead comic on hiatus until the relaunch happens. Fans of Jughead can rest assured that they’ll definitely be seeing more of him in the future.
The Jughead comic has been running since 1949, making it one of Archie’s oldest titles. It’s a favorite of mine because it often features good writing and stories that break the Archie mold a bit, so I’ll be watching to see what Jughead’s new incarnation looks like.
Graphic novels | The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has written to the Enfield, Connecticut, school district to ask that Matthew Loux’s SideScrollers be reinstated to its summer reading list and to point out that the district did not follow its own procedures when it removed the book last month after the mother of a ninth-grader complained about the graphic novel’s profanity and sexual references. [CBLDF]
Digital comics | Digital distributor iVerse has unveiled a new deal to sell foreign-language translations of Marvel and Archie comics worldwide. iVerse will have exclusive global rights to Marvel’s foreign-language comics, both floppies and trades, while for Archie they will create apps in different languages for different countries, starting with Japan, China, and India. iVerse CEO Michael Murphy says that 50 percent to 65 percent of the company’s digital sales are to international customers (including Canada). Nonetheless, the comics will be “platform-independent”: iVerse will provide translation (through a combination of machine translation and human editors) and distribution, so the comics will be available through their Comics + app but also through other channels, such as Amazon or iBooks. [Publishers Weekly]
In this week’s What Are You Reading?, I mentioned that Jughead Double Digest #182 includes a strange, surrealistic story from 1990, “Jughead’s Diner.” The Archie folks were kind enough to share a couple of pages with Robot 6 so you can see what I was talking about. The intro to the story is done in blue and gray tones, and when Jughead is transported, on the page above, the palette shifts into full color and the panels start getting crowded. It’s written by Dan Parent (who later would create Archie’s first openly gay character, Kevin Keller) and illustrated by Bill Golliher.
Like Archie’s Mad House, this wanders off the Riverdale reservation but never gets too edgy. On the other hand, it’s fun to see Parent and Golliher playing with the basic ingredients and coming up with new characters, even if most of them only have a few lines.
Organizations | Jillian Kirby, the 16-year-old granddaughter of Jack Kirby, makes a pitch for Kirby4Heroes, a campaign to encourage donations to The Hero Initiative on Aug. 28, which would have been the legendary creator’s 95th birthday. [Los Angeles Times]
Comics | Roger Rautio, who’s spearheading an effort to establish a physical Comic Book Hall of Fame, said he’s received responses from officials in four cities — Chicago, Cleveland, New York City and San Jose — and he may meet with a Chicago city council member as early as next month. [North Country Now]
Creators | Cartoonist Reinhard Kleist discusses his graphic novel The Boxer, the true story of Polish Jew Harry Haft, who had to fight other prisoners at Auschwitz for the entertainment of the Nazi soldiers. [Deutsche Welle]
Archie Comics keeps coming up with new things, and here are two more: A deluxe, large-format Archie magazine and a Sonic the Hedgehog digest.
The Archie Comics Super Special magazine is planned as a quarterly publication, full color, with 128 pages of stories “from the Archie vault,” i.e., stories that have run before, along with a new story, “Betty and Veronica Save Christmas (or Not!).” The Archie folks are certainly making good use of their vast library by repackaging the material in different ways for different audiences — comics, digests, themed collections — and this is a format that kids will probably find appealing, especially as they will most likely be seeing the stories for the first time. This first, Christmas-themed issue, which will include creator spotlights and other bits of Archie news, will sell for $9.99 and will arrive in comics shops Oct. 31.
• Of course you can’t have Comic-Con without news about Comic-Con itself. CBR’s Kiel Phegley spoke with CCI’s David Glanzer about the show, while Ryan Ingram spoke with Scott Morse about the Tr!ckster satellite event. And it seems like every non-comics media outlet reports on the show in some form or fashion; here’s an article by The Christian Post about religion and the show, for example. And finally, Tuesday brought the tragic news that a con attendee camping out for today’s Twilight panel was killed in front of the convention center after being struck by a car.
• I’m not 100 percent sure if it qualifies as Comic-Con news, but since it was officially announced in the Entertainment Weekly Comic-Con issue, let’s just go with it. Marvel’s big news going into the Con is that they plan to relaunch several titles later this year as part of “Marvel NOW!” Their recently released solicitations reveal they plan to cancel nine titles in October, but of course you can expect many if not all of them to come back in some form or fashion as Marvel NOW! rolls out.
• Mike Mignola and Hellboy return this December in Hellboy in Hell, the first four-issue miniseries in a series of miniseries about the title character’s post-demise adventures.
After partnering last year with DC Comics for a collection of Wonder Woman makeup — Themyscira mascara! Obey Me nail polish! — MAC Cosmetics is heading to Riverdale.
Archie Comics announced today that it’s teaming with the cosmetics giant to launch a line in spring 2013 called MAC Archie’s Girls that will “celebrate the iconic looks of Betty and Veronica.” Although fans will have to wait a while to get their hands on the products, MAC will be promoting the line Wednesday and Thursday in San Diego with an event at its Gaslamp Quarter store featuring Archie cartoonist Dan Parent. Apparently, you’ll be able to get a Betty- or Veronica-style makeover, and a sketch from Parent.
Retailing | Sales of comics and graphic novels in the direct market rose 18.6 percent for the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2011, reports the retail news and analysis site ICv2. John Jackson Miller adds that, “Retailers have already ordered more material through June — nearly $223 million in retail dollars— than they did in last year through July.” He also points out that the second half of the year has outperformed the first half every year for the past decade, by an average of 10 percent, meaning we can probably expect 2012 to finish strong. [ICv2.com, Comichron]
Publishing | The new Valiant Entertainment would like to follow the movie “blueprint” that Marvel has laid out, according to a new profile of the reborn company. “Investors like to be able to compare concepts to other concepts,” said Valiant chairman Peter Cuneo, former CEO of Marvel. “With Valiant, we very much have a blueprint to follow, which is Marvel.” The profile mostly focuses on the business side of Valiant, as well as some of its history. [The New York Times]
2012′s Comic-Con International wraps up on Sunday with its traditional focus on kids. Kid-friendly properties like LEGO Ninjago, video game characters Sonic and Mega Man, SpongeBob SquarePants, Carton Network’s Ben 10 and Level Up!, and many more are represented, along with creators like Raina Telgemeier, Art Baltazar and Franco, Shane Houghton and others who know a thing or two about creating great kids’ comics.
Comic publishers get their final chance to talk up their lines, as Marvel, DC Comics, Image, Archie, IDW Publishing and more are represented. The schedule also includes spotlight panels for Jason Shiga, Angelo Torres, Tom Yeates and Alison Bechdel.
Here are some of the comics-related highlights below; visit the Comic-Con website to see the complete schedule.