Conventions | Although convention organizers rolled out an altered name — WonderCon Anaheim — and logo when they confirmed two weeks ago that the event will return to Anaheim, California, again next year, they insist they haven’t close the door on San Francisco. “We still want to get back to the Bay Area. [...] We are in touch with [the Moscone Center organizers] fairly regularly and we have an open dialogue,” says David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations. “They haven’t given up on us, either.” The convention was uprooted from the Moscone Center in 2012 first because of remodeling and now because of scheduling conflicts. WonderCon Anaheim will be held April 18-20. [Publishers Weekly]
Digital comics | I spoke with Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and iVerse Media CEO Michael Murphey about the new “all-you-can-eat” digital service, Archie Unlimited. [Good E-Reader]
Retailing | The rental chain Tsutaya and the bookstore chain Yurindo have returned Kuroko’s Basketball books and DVDs to their shelves after “X-Day,” Nov. 4, passed without incident. Someone has sent hundreds of threatening letters to convention sites, bookstores, the media and Sophia University (the alma mater of Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki), over the past year, and the most recent batch of letters said that “X-Day will be on the final day of the [Sophia University] school festival.” Meanwhile, police are checking security cameras near all the mailboxes in the districts from which the letters were mailed, looking for suspicious people. [Anime News Network]
Comics | Brian Steinberg looks at Archie Comics’ most radical move yet: the relatively adult Afterlife with Archie, which literally turned America’s most iconic teenagers into zombies. Steinberg talks to Archie CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, artist Francesco Francavilla and others about the significance of this comic, which sold almost 65,000 copies to the direct market. [Variety]
Creators | Jeff Smith, who was named last week to the board of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, talks briefly about the importance of the organization, and the 2010 challenge to his all-ages graphic novel Bone in a Minnesota school. [Comic Riffs]
Comics | Archie Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and artist Francesco Francavilla have a few things to say about the new zombie series Afterlife With Archie. “We are taking a series of characters known to be lighthearted and young adult-oriented and doing a horror comic with them, so the mood, atmosphere, and setting are very important to make this a believable horror and not a comedy horror,” says Francavilla, who’s also the creator of The Black Beetle. “Fortunately, I am really good at making things dark and ominous.” [The Associated Press]
“I think it’s going to explode. I think it’s going to be huge, and it’s going to turn a whole new generation of young kids onto Archie. And that’s going to help us in so many areas. It’ll help on the publishing side, on the digital side and with our general awareness for the overall licensing program. This animation to me is probably — well, we’ve done a lot of important things in the past few years, so I don’t want to say it’s the singular most important thing we’ve done. I don’t know if there’s any one thing you can label like that, but this is extremely important to our company, and we’re going to work very hard to make sure that this show is everything we all want it and expect it to be.”
– Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater, talking to Comic Book Resources about It’s Archie, a new animated series set to debut on The Hub in 2014
Nancy Silberkleit, the colorful co-CEO of Archie Comics, has entered the race for mayor of Rye, New York, a city of about 16,000 in Westchester County. News of her candidacy follows a report that she has filed a sexual-harassment against her longtime friend Sam Levitin, who served as her liaison following her bizarre yearlong legal feud with the publisher and Co-CEO Jon Goldwater.
A 22-year resident of Rye, Silberkleit is running as an independent against city councilmen Joe Sack and Peter Jovanovich after securing 1,000 signatures to be placed on the ballot for the November election; just 377 were required.
Silberkleit, who has no political experience, was an art teacher in New Jersey before the death in 2008 of her husband Michael Silberkleit, son of Archie co-founder Louis Silberkleit. She and Goldwater were the subjects of flattering media profiles when they assumed the roles of co-CEOs in 2009 (Goldwater’s half-brother Richard Goldwater had passed away in 2007), but it was what happened afterward that drew the most attention.
Publishing | Douglas Wolk uses a classic comics trope — who would win in a fight between Marvel and DC Comics, or rather, Batman and Iron Man? — to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the two companies and how their business models have evolved. [Slate]
Comics | Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater and writer and artist Dan Parent talk about the latest story arc, which takes the Riverdale gang to India for an encounter with Bollywood. [The Times of India]
Manga | Charles Brownstein, executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, spoke about manga and the importance of freedom of expression at the most recent Comiket, the world’s largest comics event, in Tokyo. [CBLDF]
Here’s one of the greatest things about being a comics journalist: Every month, I get a box delivered to my home that contains the entire Archie Comics output for that month. Really, it doesn’t get any better than that.
I usually look at the comics one at a time, but this month, I thought it would be interesting to view the group as a whole, and see what it tells us about Archie and its product mix. (I should say right off the bat that this box doesn’t include graphic novels, which means there is no copy of the truly excellent Jinx 2: Little Miss Steps. If you don’t mind Jinx spoilers, go ahead and read my interview with writer J. Torres to find out what that is about.)
This month’s box contains 10 single-issue comics, six digests and two magazines. That looks like a lot, but it really isn’t because every comic and magazine this month has a variant cover. So in terms of what’s inside, that’s five singles, six digests (no variants there!) and one magazine, Life With Archie. All these have June cover dates, which means they came out in May.
Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside the box.
Legal | The Malaysian cartoonist Zunar has appealed a court decision upholding his 2010 arrest and detention, claiming police acted in bad faith when they arrested him under the Sedition Act because of his book Cartoon-O-Phobia, which had not yet been released at the time of his arrest. No charges were ever filed, as the police could not identify any actual seditious content in the books. A court ruled in July 2012 that Zunar’s arrest was lawful but ordered the police to return the books they had confiscated and pay him damages. An appellate court will hear the case next week. [The Comics Reporter]
Publishing | Heidi MacDonald takes a look at Marvel’s new graphic novel line, which will launch in October with Warren Ellis and Mike McKone’s Avengers: Endless Wartime. [Publishers Weekly]
Crime | Comix Experience in San Francisco was robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon, with two young men demanding that owner Brian Hibbs empty the cash register containing about $75 and turn over an iPhone used for credit card transactions. A Lower Haight neighborhood blog interviewed Hibbs about the incident: “Divis [Divisadero Street] is generally pretty safe these days, so I was a LITTLE shocked at, y’know, a ‘brazen daylight armed robbery’ of it — but I am kind of more shocked that anyone thought that a comic book store was a high value target about an hour after they opened. Hell, life is like 85% credit cards these days, so even at our fattest there’s seldom enough to risk that kind of jail time, in my opinion …” [Haighteration]
History | Scholar Carol Tilley gives a first-person account of her research on Fredric Wertham, the super-villain of comics history, and how looking through his papers led her to an unexpected conclusion: His published works misrepresented what his research subjects had told him: “For many hard-to-articulate reasons, I didn’t want to write the scholarly paper on Wertham and the problems I found in his evidence, but not to write it seemed a disservice to the young people whose words and experiences Wertham distorted to help make his case against comics.” [Boing Boing]
MAC Cosmetics has unveiled its full lineup of products for its much-anticipated Archie’s Girl collection, which Archie Comics Co-CEO Jon Goldwater characterizes as “truly our most important licensing deal in the last 30 years.”
Announced in July during Comic-Con International, Archie’s Girls is of course divided into two lines, one for Betty and one for Veronica. And while the products don’t bear as colorful of names as MAC’s earlier Wonder Woman collection — Athena’s Kiss lip gloss! Obey Me nail polish! — they’re still pretty memorable. For those in the Betty camp, there’s Girl Next Door lipstick, Kiss and Don’t Tell lip gloss, and Caramel Sundae eye shadow. For the Veronicas out there, MAC offers items like Daddy’s Little Girl and Boyfriend Stealer lipstick, and Spoiled Rich eyeshadow.
The Art of Betty and Veronica
Edited by Victor Gorelick and Craig Yoe
Archie Books, $29.99
It won’t take more than an hour or so to read The Art of Betty and Veronica cover to cover, but it will be a pleasurable hour. And to be honest, it’s not quite as light a read as I expected.
Archie Comics has been criticized in the past for not giving credit to artists and writers, and this book goes a ways toward correcting that. Victor Gorelick, who started at Archie Comics in 1958, kicks things off with an essay about the Archie artists he has met during his tenure, giving a bit of personal insight into each one. There’s also a two-page spread with photos of them, which is another nice touch. I like being able to put a face to the name (although Bob Montana is somewhat obscured in his photo).
Archie Comics is old and new at the same time, still churning out comics featuring the Riverdale gang we all grew up with but mixing it up in interesting ways — with graphic novel compilations, the addition of the gay character Kevin Keller, and the dual-storyline Life With Archie magazine that ages the cast up into their 20s.
The end of the year seemed like a good opportunity to check in with Co-CEO Jon Goldwater about 2012 and the company’s initiatives for 2013. While Archie kept a pretty high profile in 2012, with a new Kevin Keller comic, the Archie Meets KISS miniseries, and the return of the Red Circle superheroes (in print as well as digital form), there was also quite a bit going on behind the scenes, both positive — Goldwater says they really figured out how to market their products in the current climate — and negative — a legal feud between Goldwater and Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit that bubbled out into the public eye last year but was settled in June.
Goldwater covers a lot of bases in the interview; one interesting nugget is that the monthly comics most people would think are the flagship Archie product are not a significant source of revenue for the company, although they are important both as a marketing tool and as the place where new stories run first. It’s also interesting to see how Goldwater regards the company’s deal with MAC Cosmetics as the first step toward global marketing of Archie products.
Robot 6: What’s new at Archie?
Jon Goldwatwer: We got a lot of great stuff coming up in 2013. 2012 was fantastic. I feel like every year we take these tremendous steps forward, from putting out Life With Archie and figuring out how to make that work — we have gained traction on that — to things like Archie Meets KISS, things like Kevin Keller, groundbreaking day-and-date digital. We look at 2013 being one of these big groundbreaking years
The first thing we have coming out is a partnership with MAC Cosmetics called Archie’s Girls. It launches February 2013, and it’s going to be a global launch. It’s going to be in every MAC store, not just in freestanding stores but in department stores as well. Wherever you want to go, you are going to have Archie right there. It’s truly our most important licensing deal in the last 30 years.
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.
Comics | The Greenville County (South Carolina) Library has removed two copies of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows’ Neonomicon from its shelves after a mother filed an official challenge to the collection’s sexual content. Carrie Gaske said that although her 14-year-old daughter found the horror book in the adult section, she thought “it looked like a children’s comic,” and would be fine for her to check out. Daughter Jennifer soon discovered Neonomicon wasn’t the “murder mystery comic book” her mother believed it to be. “It was good at first,” she said. “Then it got nasty.” How “nasty”? “The more into I got the more shocked I was, I really had no idea this type of material was allowed at a public library,” Carrie Gaske said. “I feel that has the same content of Hustler or Playboy or things like that. Maybe even worse.”
The library allows children age 13 and older to check out books from the adult section with their parents’ permission. The library system’s two copies of Neonomicon have been removed from circulation while a committee reviews the content. [WSPA.com]
The yearlong legal feud for control of Archie Comics has ended with a settlement that restores embattled Co-CEO Nancy Silberkleit to her position at the company. However, the confidential agreement was criticized by the granddaughters of Archie co-founder John L. Goldwater, who claim that both executives’ “hands are dirty.”
The Associated Press reports that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich approved the deal Wednesday, bringing to a close the bitter, and frequently outlandish, dispute between Silberkleit and Co-CEO Jon Goldwater that became public in July 2011, when Archie accused Silberkleit of bullying and sexually harassing employees and sued to bar her from the company’s Mamaroneck, New York, headquarters.
Silberkleit, who stepped into the role of co-CEO in 2009, following the death of her husband Michael Silberkleit (son of Archie Comics co-founder Louis Silberkleit), countered that Jon Goldwater is a chauvinist who was mounting a smear campaign to drive her out of the company, and sought $100 million in damages for defamation. The fight escalated in January when Goldwater, son of John L. Goldwater, sued to have Silberkleit removed as a director and CEO, claiming, “Unless Silberkleit is removed as a director and an officer, the company — an iconic American company — is in serious danger of failing and being liquidated.” That was quickly followed by a temporary restraining order prohibiting Silberkleit from “harassing, yelling at or abusing” anyone at Archie’s headquarters or having any contact with staff and vendors regarding matters other than those required by her employment contract.